The brain, as our bodies’ most complex organ, has held many mysteries throughout medical history. Today, new advancements in preventative medicine are increasingly prevalent as trends lean towards more natural and holistic health treatments. Society is becoming ever-more health conscious, with special diets and therapies being constantly developed to help strengthen our bodies. Studies continue to show that eating well is vital for physical and mental health.
All organs in the body require particular nutrients that are sometimes lacking in everyday diets. Just as the heart, skin, muscles, and lungs thrive when given proper nutrition, the brain’s cognitive function improves with certain types of food. The following is an introduction of just a few brain foods that carry tremendous neurological benefits.
EFAs, better known as Essential Fatty Acids, cannot be made within the human body. Therefore its essential to obtain enough of these nutrients through diet. Many of the foods listed below will indicate that they contain omega-three fatty acids, but the most effective of these fats, EPA and DHA, occur naturally in oily fish. Eating fish such as salmon or trout allows the body to process these vital fats easily. It should be a key food source in any diet promoting brain health, and is linked through research to helping fend of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
Nuts, particularly walnuts, are a rich sources of omega three fatty acids and vitamin E. They also packed with folate, melatonin and antioxidants. These antioxidants can decrease oxidative stress that occurs in aging as well as improving inferential reasoning in younger adults. All nuts have been shown as beneficial to overall health, but the walnut is the clear winner in the brain health category.
All berries are delicious and have essential vitamins for overall wellbeing, and they all have positive effects on the brain because of their antioxidant level. Berries with darker skins, like blueberries carry the most antioxidants. This high level of compounds protects against damage from harmful free radicals. Berries can also reroute neuron signals when the brain communicates which prevents inflammation.
Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Seeds
Both of these small seeds contain a hearty helping of protein, B vitamins and omega fatty acids. They also contain tryptophan, best known for the sleep-inducing effect it carries after a turkey dinner. Tryptophan is converted by the brain into serotonin which combats anxiety and depression, both of which can be harmful to brain health. These seeds also contain an entire daily amount of zinc, which enhances memory and cognitive ability.
Broccoli is high in a phytoestrogen compound called lignans, which has been proven to benefit brain health in areas such as reasoning, remembering, and learning new words. Broccoli also has a high level of glucosinolates. This group of compounds has been proven to stop decline in neurotransmitters which help the central nervous system function. Glucosinolate compounds are also found in brain foods such as potatoes, apples, radishes and other cabbages.
The spice turmeric has an age old reputation for boosting brain health. It contains the chemical circumin which has been proven through extensive research to stimulate the production of new brain cells. Because it can boost memory and potentially lessen inflammation in the brain, it is being studied as a treatment for Alzheimers. Turmeric is most commonly found in curries and is known for it’s distinctive bright orange color.
Healthy fats like the kind found in avocados are an essential brain food. They regulate the balance of good and bad cholesterol, halting the hardening of blood vessels and allowing proper blood flow in the brain. Avocados also contain high levels of vitamin K, which helps with blood flow. The combination of these fats and vitamins produces a significantly decreased risk of a stroke. They even contain folate which is an essential nutrient for maintaining brain health in areas like memory.
It’s incredibly important to feed our brain with these vital nutrients if we want to avoid risk of stroke, dementia or alzheimer’s disease. But these diseases aside, advancements in health are predicting humans to live longer and longer lifespans. So as societies continue to grow older, it’s important to consider that good cognitive function is vital to not only an individual’s health, but to the health of communities as a whole.