We all know that whatever we eat affects our bodies directly or indirectly.
Have you ever asked yourself how the food you eat can affect your brain functions? Not until now, I never thought about it!
The search into the best kinds of foods that can boost your brain function has been on for a while now.
Researchers have been studying different types of foods to get the ideal brain foods for optimal brain functions.
Let me tell you, your brain is such a big deal. Just like CPU in a computer, it is the central processing unit of the body that controls your major bodily functions such as heartbeat, lungs functions, your movements, and senses.
Therefore taking adequate care of your brain and ensuring it functions well should be your major concern.
The kinds of food you eat are very important in helping you keep your brain and mental functions optimum.
Most foods that improve brain functions are rich in antioxidants, good cholesterol (HDL), minerals and vitamins that provide the brain energy and protection against diseases.
The truth is, not all foods have the same capacities to boost your brain functions, and some work better than others.
Below are 16 evidenced-based foods that boost your brain and memory:
Fish oil popularly known as omega-3 is a well-known supplement that is extracted from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and of course anchovies.
The brain is an organ that contains about 60% of fatty tissues. Research has shown that a major part of these fatty tissues is made up of omega-3 fatty acids.
These fatty fish are very rich in omega-3!
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for your normal brain and mental functions. These fatty acids help to develop your brain and nerve cells as well as maintain your normal brain and mental functions for the rest of your life.
Omega-3 also helps in boosting your intelligence and memory and reduces brain aging.
To cut the long story short, eating fatty fish comes with a lot of health benefits for both young and old whereas not eating enough omega-3 will lead to learning and memory loss, faster brain aging and depression.
Avocado is also known as butter fruit. It is very rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
It also contains high levels of folic acid which helps to reduce the risk of depression. Folic acid interferes in the formation of substance homocysteine, this substance affects the circulation of blood and nutrients to the brain.
Too much of homocysteine can prevent the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine that control the state of mind, sleep, and cravings.
Broccoli is one of the best brain foods out there. It comes as a leafy green vegetable. Broccoli contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, and the popular powerful antioxidant (vitamin c).
The brain is densely populated with fat called sphingolipids. Broccoli contains fat-soluble vitamins that are required for the formation of this fat.
Research has shown that vitamin K levels are very high in broccoli and Intake of this vitamin will give you a better memory.
It is very rich in vitamin c, an antioxidant. This antioxidant helps to protect your brain from being damaged by free radicals.
It is very rich in nutrients such as good fats, antioxidants, and tocopherol (vitamin E). These vitamins offer a lot of benefits to your brain.
Research has shown that eating walnuts will boost your cognitive functions and helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Turmeric contains an active ingredient called Curcumin. Curcumin has high blood-brain penetration which will help your brain benefit greatly from its brain-protective and boosting effects.
These benefits include:
- Improves memory in Alzheimer conditions
- Improves mood in people that are depressed
- Helps to delay mental decline in elderly people.
Use turmeric as a spice or in making turmeric tea to enjoy the benefits of this active ingredient curcumin.
Blueberries contain anthocyanins compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. These anthocyanins effects help to protect the brain from aging, inflammation, and stress.
Studies have shown that antioxidants in Blueberries accumulate in the brain and helps with the proper functioning of brain cells.
Dark chocolate is my favorite. It may come in different forms, but one striking thing about it is that it contains flavonoids. These flavonoids concentrate on the part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine and antioxidants.
Studies have shown that people who ate chocolate regularly performed better, and their moods are enhanced.
Majority of us take coffee either in the morning or at any other time of the day as the case may be without a full understanding of its immense benefits to us. Taking coffee is good for you!
It contains caffeine and antioxidants. Some of the many benefits of coffee include: Boosts your mood and brain alertness and increases your focus.
Long term use of coffee has shown to reduce the risk of parkinsonism and Alzheimer’s.
My first experience with eating beetroot was memorable. The shape was crazy, the smell was nice and eating it was like ouch! for real?
The fact still remains that beetroot is one of the most nutritious plants you can consume.
Beetroot is very rich in antioxidants, and nitrates. These antioxidants help to reduce inflammation and cancer-related inflammations. The nitrates content help to increase blood circulation to the brain as well as help the brain to function properly.
Want to boost your energy levels and performance during your regular workouts? Eat Beetroots!
Green tea is one of the major tea products used in weight loss and brain functions.
It contains caffeine which has shown to increase brain alertness and performance, concentration and memory.
It also contains amino acid (L-theanine). This L-theanine reduces stress and anxiety and keeps you calmed and relaxed.
It is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols that protect brain aging and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
Eggs contain a lot of good nutrients that help with brain development and functions. It is a rich source of vitamin B, folic acid and choline.
Choline is found mainly in egg yolk and is a good ingredient for the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps to regulate mood.
Vitamin B may help to reduce brain aging in older people.
Folic acid deficiency occurs mostly in aged people with dementia, and folic acid supplementation has shown to reduce brain aging and mental decline.
You might say, no, the egg is not good for me because it may increase my cholesterol levels. Yes, that’s true, because research has shown that eating eggs can increase your good cholesterol levels and don’t get me wrong, am talking about eating good organic eggs.
Bone broth has ancient benefits of enhancing immune, healing guts and improving memory.
It is very rich in collagen and amino acids such as proline and glycine. Its collagen content helps to limit intestinal inflammation while its amino acids help in the normal functioning of the immune system and improve memory.
Pumpkin seeds contain numerous amounts of antioxidants and serve as a good source of micronutrients that help with brain functions such as magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper.
Coconut oil has a lot of health benefits and is very good for your brain health. It has anti-inflammatory activities and improves memory.
Oranges are one of the commonest fruits available and a rich source of antioxidants (vitamin c).
Vitamin C has shown tremendous benefits in preventing age-related mental decline and improving brain health.
16. Green, Leafy Vegetables
Regular consumption of leafy green vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce according to research can assist in reducing mental decline.
Green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins A and K which can suppress inflammatory cells from causing inflammation and helps you build strong bones.
Foods that are bad for your brain:
Your brain is the most important organ in your body which supports all the functions of the systems in your body. Ensuring that your brain functions properly should be your main responsibility.
Not all foods are good for your optimum brain functions, some foods impact negatively on your brain functions and increase your risk of mental decline, memory loss, and mood disorders.
Below are 7 foods that are bad for your brain:
1. Sugary beverages
Excessive intake of sugary drinks predisposes you to type 2 diabetes and increases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Most components of sugary drinks contain a high amount of fructose corn syrup (55% fructose and 45% glucose). A high intake of fructose increases brain inflammation and affects intelligence and memory.
Examples of such beverages include energy drinks, fruit juices, soda and of course sports drinks.
Alternative drinks that you can use include water, unsweetened iced tea, vegetable drinks, and unsweetened dairy products.
2. Refined Carbohydrates
These are carbohydrates that have a high glycemic index and glycemic load which has been shown to increase the risk of dementia, impair memory and learning.
Intake of high amounts of such foods causes poor memory. These effects may occur due to inflammation of part of the brain that is responsible for memory and increases your risk of brain-related diseases such as dementia.
Examples of refined carbs are white flour products such as white bread, pasta, rice, and cereal.
Alternative foods to eat are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
3. Trans fats
These are foods high in unsaturated fats that cause brain damage. These fats are used in foods to increase their shelf life and give it flavor.
Naturally occurring Trans fats are not bad but artificial trans fats are the major problems.
Examples of foods that contain artificial Trans fats include margarine, snacks, readymade cakes, and pre-packaged cookies/desserts.
My advice to you is, Remove these Trans fats totally and increase the unsaturated fats in your meals e.g. dark chocolate.
4. Highly Processed fast Foods
Why highly processed fast foods? Because these foods are usually high in carbs and contain a very minimal amount of other nutrients which may cause brain cells damage and makes it impossible to fight Alzheimer’s.
Highly processed foods increase brain inflammation, impairs intelligence and memory.
5. Sugar substitutes such as Aspartame
Aspartame is a sugar substitute found in most beverages and unsweetened products. Although it is considered safe it has been shown to impair memory and learning and cause cognitive decline.
Although when alcohol is taken in moderate amount comes with some health benefits, too much intake of alcohol can impair memory, cause sleep disturbances and mood changes in all ages.
7. Fish High in Mercury
The sources of mercury in humans are mostly seafoods, not the common varieties but the weird ones such as shark, tuna and swordfish.
Mercury is a heavy metal that causes neurological problems. When consumed either by animals or humans it stays in their tissues for a long time. Mercury metals concentrate in the brain, liver, and kidney.
My advice to you is that you should as much as possible reduce the consumption of seafoods that are high in mercury.
Best Nootropic Supplements to Boost Brain Power
Nootropics supplements are supplements of natural origin that can boost memory and intelligence, as well as reduce age-related brain damage.
Below are some of the best nootropics you can use:
- Fatty fish: fish oil contains omega-3 which can promote good brain health and reduce brain aging.
- Resveratrol: Animal Studies have shown that Resveratrol helps to improve memory and brain function. Although no evidence has shown that it can have the same effects when used in people.
- Noocube Nootropic supplement: this is the most effective nootropic supplement in the world. It enhances cognitive capacities, focus, and concentration and boosts your understanding.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is found in many brain foods. It improves your brain function and keeps you alert.
- Phosphatidylserine: it improves your learning and memory. These supplements reduce age-related brain decline.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine: This supplement is a good fit for the elderly and people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It helps their brain to function properly.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Taking this supplement may improve your memory and thinking skills. It may also be suitable in age-related brain decline.
Others include S-Adenosyl Methionine, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa monnieri.
Lifestyle modifications /Non-food measures that boost the brainpower and memory
Below are some of the lifestyle modifications that when engaged will boost your brain and memory:
- Adequate sleep,
- Continuous hydration,
- Regular exercises,
- Meditate to reduce stress,
- Reduce alcohol intake,
- Avoid long term use of coffee.