Brain foods are important because the cells in your brain require twice the amount of energy required by the other body cells. According to the Franklin Institute Resource for Science and Learning, glucose, which is a form of sugar, is the only fuel required by your brain. As such, dietary changes to your diet that also encompass adequate volumes of brain foods is very important. Incorporating these power foods for the brain can help enhance your overall brain health, memory recall, and also improve the learning process. In this article, you will discover the top 33 power brain foods. By including these foods into your daily diet, they help protect the brain from getting damaged, support the health of your brain as well as boost its alertness, mood, and memory.
Why Is Brain Nutrition Important?
Different foods have different effects on our cognitive performance and general behaviour. Scientists have known this fact for very many years now and are something that does not need to be examined closely. For instance, it is well known that when kids are allowed to ingest too much sugar, they become hyper. Caffeine, on the other hand, helps stimulate the brain. Health experts have known these experiences for very many years. Human dietary behaviour actually helps reflect this.
In the last few years, there have been new developments on the kind of effects that nutrition can have on the brain. Further research has indicated that brain development can be influenced by our daily nutrition. In essence, it means that certain brain foods can impact our cognition, mood disorders, ageing, and disease states. It is something that has promised to be an interesting area of non-pharmacological treatment, development, research, and preventative measures.
1. Brain Energy Demands
The human brain happens to be an extremely active organ. It tends to demand a greater proportion of the overall daily energy requirements that are provided by nutrition. MRIs and PET scans are able to show the areas of the brain that normally use up most of the energy. By monitoring glucose utilization, it has become possible to understand the brain development and maturation process.
For instance, when you look at the best brain foods for infants, you will note that 87% of their daily glucose intake is used up by the brain. For children between the ages of six and twelve years, 30-45% of their energy intake goes to the brain. Between the embryonic stage and early childhood, the synaptic connectivity tends to be at its highest levels. Glucose utilization, therefore, ends up being very high.
By the time a person is approaching adulthood, the cortical organization will have started to stabilize. The brain energy demands begin to decrease until they are between 20 and 25%.
2. Food and Cognition
One of the biggest effects that brain nutrition has on its functions can be seen in how we approach cognition. A poor diet can negatively affect your mood, energy levels, and sleeping patterns. The thinking process is also indirectly affected by the growth of other essential brain functions. For instance, nutrition plays an important role in the growth of important sensory systems, e.g., vision and hearing.
It is also crucial to the integration of the two processes into what later comes to be known as the sensorimotor system. This system plays an important role in cording both motor and sensory functions. A good example of a sensorimotor function is when you see a ball (sensory) coming your way, and you move out of its path (motor).
Traditionally, the two processes should mature before your thinking processes. The reason is that they are important memory boosters and are also essential for learning. As such, without complete and fit the development of the sensorimotor systems, it becomes impossible to achieve optimal cognitive maturation.
Brain nutrition effects are mainly seen during the neurodevelopment process. They also come into view during the ageing process. The two processes require nutrients to help optimize the brain functions and thinking processes.
What Nutrients Are Good for The Brain?
The brain is an essential part of the human body. As such, it is bound to greatly benefit from everything that you do to try and keep it fit. This can be by eating well or by exercising on a regular basis. The two are critical elements that help keep your mind sharp at all times.
According to a new study published by the American Geriatrics Society Journal, scientists discovered that mature adults who followed the MIND diet and the Mediterranean diets often scored higher in cognitive tests than their counterparts. The Mediterranean diet happens to focus on eating lots of vegetable and fruits. Poultry and fish are the main protein sources.
It also encourages participants to limit their intake of sweets and red meats. Therefore, by following the MIND or Mediterranean diet, your brain should have all the nutrients it needs to keep developing. But if you are looking for a good memory-booster, try and get as much of the following nutrients from brain foods as you can:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that provide very many benefits. Health experts believe that they can help reduce the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology recently published a study that indicated that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, e.g., beans, wild salmon, and herring helped lower the beta-amyloid protein levels.
These are the same proteins that are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. The fatty acids also act as potent anti-inflammatory agents that have been seen to help reduce depression and ease stiffness and pain in the joints. The two ailments are known to affect seniors all over the world.
2. Vitamin B12
B12 is a crucial vitamin that assists in maintaining proper nerve function in the body. Seniors and the elderly are in many cases not able to absorb it from the food that they intake. Rush University Medical Center published results of a B12 study conducted on seniors which indicated that elderly people with low levels of this vitamin are likely to experience brain shrinkage. With time, they are also likely to start losing their motor skills.
Mediterranean style diets happen to feature numerous foods that are very rich in this vitamin. They include eggs, fish, and shellfish.
3. Vitamin D
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is crucial in helping maintain a healthy and fully functional brain. However, studies indicate that close to 3 out of every 4 US residents tend to lack this essential nutrient. Seniors lacking this vitamin are likely to start losing their cognitive levels very fast. Low levels can also lead to the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
We all know it is important to ensure that we are properly hydrated at all times. But do you know the kind of effect that fluids have on your brain? As is the case with all bodily organs, the brain is mainly made up of water. This means that for it to maintain an optimum function, it has to be replenished on a regular basis.
A study conducted by the University of Connecticut indicated that dehydration, regardless of how mild it may be, it has the potential to alter an individual’s ability to think. It can also affect their energy levels as well as their mood. This is in addition to messing with their memory recall abilities.
What Does the Brain Need to Work Properly?
We have all experienced occasions when we felt as though our brains were not working the way they ought to. It could be that you are finding it hard to concentrate of late, or you are walking into a room only to forget why you are there, or you have started feeling as though something is wrong with your mind.
It is normal for human beings to every once in a while feeling as though their brains are not firing on all cylinders. When this happens, it should not be a cause for alarm. Apart from including power foods for the brain in your diet, you can also try observing the following tips.
1. Good Nutrition
The amount and type of brain foods you eat are instrumental in the development and functioning of your brain for the rest of your life. Even though the best brain-boosting foods will differ from one individual to another, there are several rules you need to observe:
- Make sure to eat meals that have been moderately sized. The meals will need to be spaced out through the whole day.
- Ensure each meal has some proteins. They are vital in helping to boost your blood sugar levels. There are studies that have linked high blood sugar levels to an increased likelihood of developing memory recall problems.
- Reduce your consumption of refined sugars, white rice, and white flour. These are high-glycemic foods that are likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
- Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats into your everyday diet.
- Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Colourful fruits are said to be rich in antioxidants, fibre, and vitamins as in a plant-based eating
2. Social Connection
Human beings have always been social creatures. Interacting with other human beings provides you with an opportunity to communicate your feelings and thoughts. It is also a unique way of understanding others as you get to integrate their nonverbal cues with their spoken words. In the process, you get to help exercise various parts of the brain.
Additionally, socializing on a regular basis helps maintain a healthy brain. This is by reducing cortisol levels—the stress-causing hormone.
3. Stress Management
It is not only about missing good brain foods, but depression, anxiety, and chronic stress have also all been linked to increased chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, some studies have indicated that long-term stress can stimulate the production of proteins that may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s. In part, this occurs when your sleep patterns become compromised.
Poor management of stress can also lead to brain impairment by compromising its overall health. In many cases, such an individual will find themselves engages in less productive methods of managing stress, e.g., smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, overeating, or use hard drugs. All these are capable of impairing your cardiovascular health and may even result in a stroke.
Eating the best brain foods that can help increase your memory and exercising on a regular basis are essential ways to preserve your brain’s overall health. Every time your heart beats, some of the blood generated is sent to your brain. This is the same blood that also gets to transport essential nutrients and oxygen required to keep the brain healthy.
A healthy heart is able to effortlessly supply your brain with all the substances that it needs to remain healthy. Additionally, staying active aids in the release of various hormones, e.g., endorphins (they make you feel happy and exhilarated), serotonin (they help in regulating appetite, mood, and sleep), and dopamine hormones (associated with motivation and pleasure).
If the above were not enough, exercising can also assist in stimulating your brain’s plasticity. This is by promoting the growth of new connections between the various cells spread out across your brain.
What do Brain Foods Actually do to the Brain?
Research on how certain brain foods affect the brain is still at an early stage. As a result, each passing day helps us learn why certain foods are considered beneficial for brain development while others are said to be bad for it. As of now, we do know that certain diets, e.g., the Mediterranean diet are considered to be good for your brain. However, understanding why this is the case is still a work in progress.
But what we do is that what you eat has a very big impact on various aspects of your body. When it comes to brain foods, the impact can also be seen in the total amounts of food consumed. Studies indicate that there are very many foods that can interact with a human brain. But of all the known foods, only four (nutrients and chemicals) are able to interact with it in a positive manner.
Mainly found in vegetables and tea. They assist in regulating the oxidative stress associating with destroying your brain cells. The stress occurs when the body is attempting to convert glucose into energy. In the process, extra energy is produced, which then ends up being referred to as free radicals. The antioxidants are able to block the radicals which means that you will not have to work very hard.
Your brain gets all its energy from glucose. The brain can, in this case, be compared to motor vehicles. If the vehicle is not supplied with gas on a regular basis, it will eventually come to a halt. The same case applies to the brain. If it is not supplied with sugars and fats, it will not run as it ought to run.
- Amino Acids
Amino acids are derived from foods rich in protein. Their main job is to help connect the various neurotransmitters that play an essential role in ensuring that your brain remains sharp at all times. Neurotransmitters include:
- Serotonin for learning, memory, sleep, and mood.
- Dopamine for nervous system functions and proper immune
- Norepinephrine for concentration and alertness
- Acetylcholine for memory recall and information storage
- Fatty Acids
Here, we are specifically talking about polyunsaturated fatty acids, e.g., omega-6 and omega-3. They assist in strengthening the brain synapses. These are the same synapses that assist with your memory recall.
33 Power Foods For The Brain; To Boost Memory, Brain Health and Concentration
Food fuels the brain. Eating a healthy diet is essential to nourish your brain for optimum performance. Here are foods to incorporate in your menu for a healthy brain.
Coldwater fish including tuna, salmon, mackerel and halibut are the best types. They have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that help in brain functioning. These fish obtain the omega-3s obtain the other fish, algae and certain plankton found in cold water which they feed on. According to research, some oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which decrease depression symptoms thus great for a healthy brain.
Dark-coloured vegetables and fruits especially blueberries, are enriched with antioxidants. Antioxidants are among the best brain foods. Blueberries help with learning and development and can prevent age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s. Research carried out by James Joseph PhD on rats indicated that older rats which consumed blueberry extract improved motor skills and short-term memory. Older adults should include more blueberries in their diet.
Greens contain vitamin B12 and folate which might protect your brain against dementia. People who have increased levels of homocysteine have a higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. High homocysteine levels are linked to low Vitamin B12, B6, and folate. Scientists speculate B vitamins might protect your brain.
Turkey contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps in the maintenance of dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a major memory neurotransmitter. À research done by the U.S military showed that soldiers who had consumed food with high levels of tyrosine performed better on a memory and multitasking test.
They are a rich source of choline which could improve memory. College students who consumed 3-4g of choline performed better in tests than those who took no choline.
Oatmeal is rich in carbohydrates. According to researchers from the University of Toronto, eating oatmeal has similar effects to a glucose shot injected into the brain. High glucose levels in the blood yield to better concentration and memory.
They contain a lot of vitamin E which reduces brain deterioration as you age. Consuming 2 ounces of this nuts everyday is enough for the amount of vitamin E you need.
They are enriched with boron. Researchers recommend 3.2mg boron intake each day for better memory and attention. Nuts and apples are also loaded with this element. Consuming raisins is an excellent method of keeping blood pressure down.
9. Dark Chocolate
You finally found a good excuse to enjoy your chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which preserve brainpower reducing the risk of developing brain-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Turmeric is not only delicious but also healthy. That explains its usage since the ancient years. One of turmeric’s numerous benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties and easing Alzheimer’s symptoms.
A 2012 study found that people who fed on juicy berries regularly delayed cognitive ageing. Include strawberries in your grocery list for a healthy brain.
Kale makes yummy smoothies and salads. It has ample nutrients and antioxidants that aid in the growth of new brain cells. Kale also slows down cognitive decline associated with ageing.
They are loaded with folate which helps your brain stay sharp through the years.
Avocado contains fibre, lutein and monounsaturated fats that improve cognitive health. If you eat one avocado every day, you will witness a great improvement in your problem-solving skills and your memory.
Broccoli has lutein, a pigment linked to intelligence. It allows older people to manage using the knowledge and skills they learned throughout their life.
Beets are a great source of nitrates which boost mental performance by enhancing blood circulation in the brain.
Beef contains numerous proteins. Protein-rich foods increase phenylalanine and amino acids tyrosine levels which are a memory-booster.
British researchers confirmed that a cup of coffee improves problem-solving skills and attention.
Walnuts are among the well-known power foods for the brain. They are particularly recommended for brain health maintenance as you age. They have various nutrients including fibre, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids that are extremely important to the brain.
This watered-down stick is a major source of luteolin, a compound that lowers age-related inflammation. Luteolin helps in the prevention of memory problems.
Whether green or purple, all cabbage contains antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein that is known to reduce cognitive decline as well as free radical attack.
Just like lentils, peanuts contain folate. Eating unsalted peanuts as a snack or consuming peanut butter will earn you a better memory and help you fight depression.
23. Olive oil
This edible oil is known for its immense benefits. Research says olive oil helps in brain development by protecting your memory. It also prevents the formation of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid –beta plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s.
24. Red wine
Drink yourself to a powerful brain! A glass of wine could protect your brain neurons and in turn, slow down ageing. Wine contains resveratrol which is associated with reducing mental decline.
25. Sunflower Seeds
The baseball player snack is loaded with vitamin E. Vitamin E is a memory booster, helps you attain a healthy brain and also prevents cognitive decline.
The crunchy veggie contains luteolin that may help with brain inflammation for better memory as you age.
Reap off vitamins and folate by eating asparagus. Asparagus could protect age-related cognition and improve performance in cognitive performance in older adults.
Don’t like strawberries? Blackberries also contain flavonoids which keep the brain healthy by delaying cognitive ageing.
Chard comprises of balatains, the water-soluble pigment in plants which is good for brain nutrition. The pigment is responsible for the bright colours in chards. It protects brain cells against neuro-cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
30. Brussels sprouts
Packed with antioxidants, Brussels sprouts will help your cognitive health to retain your memory as you grow older.
31. Pumpkin seeds
They are full of zinc, a metal that supports memory function keeps the brain healthy and helps with ADHD.
32. Green tea
Green tea is one of southern Asia’s most popular beverages. Drinking green tea lowers cognitive impairment which explains the reduced cases of dementia in countries like Japan.
Staying hydrated is extremely important for brain performance. Drinking enough water is the simplest way to ensure your brain functions well.
Brain Development Foods for Babies/Kids
A child’s brain develops as fast as the young one is able to move from one room to another in the house or from one activity to the next while at school. What this means is that the foods eaten by children are very important. What they eat determines how their brains will develop, how they think, and how they attend to tasks assigned to them.
Some of the foods that can help a developing child remain sharp and assist their long-term brain development include:
According to Beth Saltz, a chef based in Los Angeles, eggs contain nutrients and proteins that contribute to the growth and development of the young ones. Eggs are not only a good protein source, but their yolks also happen to contain choline, which has been seen to aid memory recall and development.
Parents are, therefore, advised to send their children to school with a hearty breakfast inclusive of eggs. It could be in the form of a burrito, scrambled eggs, and toast, or as an egg-muffin.
2. Peanut Butter
Butter and peanuts are great vitamin E sources. This is a very potent antioxidant that plays a very important role in protecting the nerve membranes. In addition, they also contain thiamin, which helps the nervous system and the brain to use glucose as an energy source.
For this, you can prepare a banana and peanut butter sandwich. You could also take a few apple slices and dip them into some peanut butter. Alternatively, considering topping off your child’s favourite salad with some peanuts. The choices as you can see are endless.
Brain Foods for Students/Exams
Finals week happens to be the most dreaded period by college-going students. This is one time of the year when all that the learners care about are their grades. Learners are, therefore, forced to go through various revision stages before they can sit for their papers.
But one common mistake made by many students during this period is failing to eat properly. Crisps, junk food, chocolate, and energy drinks tend to replace normal everyday meals. Learners do this hoping that these foods will help them sustain high energy levels.
But the reality is that these foods often end up doing more harm to their bodies than good. Additionally, they are also capable of negatively affecting the performance of a learner sitting for a crucial paper. If you are about to sit for an exam or are revising for one, consider the following brain foods for revision:
1. Oily Fish
Mackerel, sardines, and salmon are some of the healthiest fish that you can find. They are ideal foods for your brain in that they contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Both of these are important in helping ensure that your brain will remain operational.
Other viable alternatives include trout and herring. But given that students are always looking for the cheapest meal they can find, you should consider taking sardines on a toast. Make sure that the bread is whole-wheat bread. It will provide you with a long-lasting meal that contains a complex combination of protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Broccoli, spinach, chard, and kale are just but some of the available choices. Dark leafy greens are great vitamin sources especially for someone preparing for an upcoming exam. The dark greens come packed with lots of vitamin K. This vitamin helps create pathways in your brain. It also contains naturally occurring antioxidants and nitrates.
Brain Foods for Seniors
Brain diet and health is an essential topic for individuals in all age groups. However, its importance only becomes more relevant to our health as we start to age. Luckily, promoting brain health and development can be fun and delicious. Recommended brain foods for seniors include:
1. Whole Grains
In order to improve your concentration level, the human body needs a regular supply of energy and uninterrupted blood circulation. Whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice can help ageing individuals maintain an alert and active mind. For this, you can try to include half a cup of brown cereals to your normal breakfast diet. Wheat germ, brown wheat bran, and bread ought to be regular features in your breakfast.
Tomatoes are good brain foods as they happen to be very rich in an antioxidant known as lycopene. The antioxidant helps in ensuring that the cells present in your brain are not damaged by the many free radicals roaming all over your body. Tomatoes are considered to be the best food care for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s due to their ability to destroy free radicals. Keep in mind that colourful fruits and vegetables can help you improve your memory and prevent further degeneration.
Scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts recently discovered that these fruits can assist in improving short-term memory. You need to adopt a diet rich in blueberry extract or filled with blueberries. In the study that was published in the Neuroscience Journal, it was established that regular consumption of a diet rich in blueberries can help improve memory coordination and balance.
Final Words About Brain Foods
As seen above, there are very many brain foods that can help you maintain a healthy brain. Certain foods like vegetables and fruits, as well as coffee and tea, contain antioxidants that can help protect the brain from getting damaged.
Other brain foods like eggs and nuts contain nutrients that aid brain development and support memory recall. You can, therefore, be able to support the health of your brain as well as boost its alertness, mood, and memory by including these foods into your daily diet.
More Brain foods References
Youtube Videos on Brain Foods
- Eating to Remember: Memory-Boosting Brain Foods
- Secrets to a super memory