The brain controls all of your bodily functions. Without a healthily functioning brain, virtually every aspect of your body will be affected. With that in mind, it is important to keep your brain in tip-top condition. As the saying goes – you are what you eat! What are some of the easily accessible and affordable foods that you can consume to boost your brain function and memory?
Coffee contains both caffeine and antioxidants that can help support your brain function if consumed in moderation.
Coffee can lead to:
- Increased alertness. Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you feel sleepy.
- Improved mood. Caffeine may also boost some of your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as dopamine.
- Sharpened concentration. One study found that caffeine consumption led to short-term improvements in attention and alertness in participants completing a cognition test.
Drinking coffee over the long term is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
However, it is important to note that too much coffee can also have adverse physical effects and one should be mindful about how much to consume. For more information on the potential negative side effects of over coffee consumption, please read our article on this here.
Blueberries are not only tasty, they also play a vital role in maintaining brain health. Blueberries and other deeply coloured berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants act against both oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that can increase the risks of brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.
Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells.
Broccoli is rich in antioxidants and vitamin K. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells.
Vitamin K intake to better memory and cognitive status. Further, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage.
4. Green tea
Just like coffee, the caffeine in green tea can boost brain function. In addition, green tea also has other components that make it a brain-healthy beverage.
One of them is L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed. L-theanine also increases the frequency of alpha waves in the brain, which helps you relax without making you feel tired.
Green tea is also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that could protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Several nutrients in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, may explain their beneficial effects on brain health. Vitamin E protects cells against free-radical damage to help slow mental decline. While all nuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an extra edge, since they also deliver anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
6. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are packed with powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free-radical damage. Further, they contain magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper which are so beneficial to brain health.
- Zinc. This element is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraine, depression, and epilepsy.
- Copper. Your brain uses copper to help control nerve signals. And when copper levels are out of whack, there’s a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
- Iron. Iron deficiency is often characterized by brain fog and impaired brain function.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. This potent antioxidant and the anti-inflammatory compound has been linked to the following brain benefits:
- May benefit memory. Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease.
- Eases depression. Curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which improve mood. One review found that curcumin could improve symptoms of depression and anxiety when used alongside standard treatments in people diagnosed with depression.
- Helps new brain cells grow. Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help delay age-related mental decline, but more research is needed.
Oranges are a rich source of vitamin c and vitamin C is a key factor in preventing mental decline.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Vitamin C supports brain health as you age and may protect against conditions like major depressive disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
You can also get high amounts of vitamin C from other foods such as bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries.
*This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice