This spongy mass of fat and protein is responsible for helping you think rationally, interpret sensation, coordinate body movement, manage behaviour, store memory, and more—all of which makes you human. Because of researchers and scientists’ dedication to studying the brain, people are now able to determine the various areas of the brain and how to bolster brain performance as you age.
Cognitive decline can be caused by genetics, environment, or both. Despite this, there are lifestyle adjustments you can make to decrease the risk for these illnesses. Among all these activities, eating a healthy diet is one of the most effective and easiest ways to boost brain power and focus.
Whether you’re a student studying for major exams or a senior attempting to preserve as much grey matter, keep your brain healthy by filling up your plate with these foods:
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has dietary flavonoids, which are believed to be responsible for shielding the brain against injury induced by neurotoxins, decreasing the potential of neuroinflammation, and boosting cognitive abilities such as learning and recalling information.
Research published by the National Library of Medicine indicates that cocoa improves cognitive fitness and verbal fluency of aged people experiencing a mental decline. Furthermore, cocoa harbours stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, which is said to provide quick bursts of energy to your brain.
The best ones are dark chocolates with higher cocoa content.
2. Green Tea
Aside from being rich in antioxidants and good for the heart, green tea can keep you awake and alert. This is because of its caffeine content. As it’s commonly known, caffeine is a stimulant that’s thought to be responsible for increasing reaction time, mood, and even memory. Likewise, caffeine supports both dopamine and norepinephrine, the neuromodulators that help you pay attention, learn, and process information.
Unlike coffee, green tea contains just enough caffeine that allows you to focus without the jitters, headaches, and insomnia associated with consuming high amounts of caffeine. It’s the perfect alternative to coffee, especially if you’re trying to limit your daily caffeine intake.
Green tea also has an amino acid called L-theanine. According to a study from the US National Library of Medicine, both caffeine and L-theanine could help in enhancing brain function. Additionally, a 2017 longitudinal study initiated by Assistant Professor Feng Lei showed that daily consumption of tea is believed to minimise the potential for cognitive decline in older persons by 50%.
With that said, make it a habit to drink green tea. However, make sure that it’s freshly brewed to make the most of its benefits. Refrain from bottled or powdered teas as they often contain high amounts of added sugars. If you’re not a fan of the earthy taste, you can put a bit of honey to add some sweetness.
3. Nuts And Seeds
If you’re craving something crunchy, the healthiest you can grab is a small bowl of nuts and seeds. They’re rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E. They’re also packed with amino acids and essential oils, which are substances thought to support brainpower.
According to another study from the US National Library of Medicine, as you age, your brain becomes more vulnerable to oxidative stress, which causes ageing and cognitive decline. Nonetheless, by incorporating adequate amounts of vitamin E into your diet, you could potentially help protect brain cells against damage and other external threats while improving cognitive function.
Moreover, a 2015 study from UCLA associated higher walnut consumption with better cognitive test results. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which is known to be helpful in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Consequently, this helps well-functioning arteries facilitate healthy blood flow to and from the brain. In turn, this is said to improve brainpower.
The bottom line is that the best food for supporting healthy cognitive function and sharpness are ones that aid in blood flow to the brain, similar to what you’d consume to keep your heart in good condition.
Berries are abundant in kind and in colour. They’re also easily available from supermarkets. Besides their sweet taste that has a bit of tang, berries are said to improve brain power and concentration. This is mainly due to their flavonoid content.
Inflammation contributes to brain ageing and neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and the like. Fortunately, by consuming food rich in flavonoids, you could help minimise the risk of inflammation and combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Antioxidants commonly found in berries are catechins, caffeic acid, anthocyanins, and many others.
Antioxidants could potentially increase brain plasticity. As mentioned, this amazing ability can help create new neural pathways and enhance communication between brain cells—all of which are thought to boost the brain’s capacity for learning and recalling information.
Some of the best antioxidant-rich berries you can stock in your fridge are blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and mulberries. While you’re studying for upcoming tests or just reading, you can enjoy these as a snack or blend them into a wholesome and refreshing smoothie.
5. Fatty Fish
As previously mentioned, your brain is partly made of fats. Hence, to support its complex functions, it’s recommended to consume foods that are rich in healthy fats.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, just to name a few, contain omega-3 fatty acids and healthy unsaturated fats. Your brain uses omega-3 to build membranes around nerve cells, which enhances brain structure and, in turn, aids in a sharper memory.