There’s no doubt the brain is one of the body’s most important organs. As the main control system, it’s responsible for a number of actions and reactions. The brain not only allows us to think and process information -- but also creates the memories and emotions that enrich our lives.
Because of this, it’s crucial to keep your brain in optimal condition. Although word games and cognitive exercises are helpful, you can also boost brain power with a variety of nutrient-rich foods. From blueberries to turmeric, here are the best foods to make you smarter, improve your concentration and help with memory.
When it comes to brain food, at the top of the list is fatty fish. Cod liver capsules and herring oil supplements are popular options for those trying to improve brain health. But eating a variety of fatty fish the old-fashioned way is much more effective. Sardines, trout and salmon are rich in omega-3s. This fatty acid is found naturally in our brains, and there’s no harm in adding more of it. Here are some benefits of eating fish rich in omega-3s:
- Improves communication and social skills
- Fights depression and anxiety
- Slows down of age-related mental decline
- Helps keep Alzheimers and heart disease at bay
A lack of omega-3s has been linked to learning deficiencies and emotional instability. There are many ways to incorporate fatty fish into your diet. For example, this tasty salmon yogurt spread is perfect as an appetizer, along with salmon and quinoa patties. Or this cod and potato croquette recipe can be prepared in advance, and served over a bed of baby spinach!
Who knew these little guys could pack such a punch? Blueberries offer a number of benefits for the brain. They deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds that provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These properties help combat general aging of the brain. They also fight a number of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzhmeimer’s and Huntington’s. Blueberries have proven to be particularly helpful for improving memory in older adults.
Take advantage by eating blueberries on their own, or try incorporating them into a smoothie or pudding. If you’re not a fan of blueberries, all dark-coloured berries provide many of the same benefits. This wild rice salad with blackberry dressing is the perfect complement to a side of fatty fish!
This deep-yellow spice is popular in South Asian cuisine. A key ingredient of curry powder, turmeric can cross the barrier between blood and brain. This means curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells living there. It’s anti-inflammatory properties can also ease depression, improve memory and trigger the growth of new brain cells. To experience the benefits of curcumin, try adding curry powder to your favourite meat or potato dishes. Or make a cup of turmeric tea a few times a week to keep the brain active and healthy.
For those who can’t start the day without a big cup of coffee, you’ll be happy to know it’s good for you. Coffee contains two key components -- antioxidants and caffeine, which have positive effects on the brain. Research has shown that drinking coffee long-term can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It can also increase alertness, sharpen your focus, and elevate your mood by boosting serotonin production. So next time you reach for that cup of joe, don’t feel guilty. Savour it, and know your brain is thanking you, too!
Broccoli is a superfood that provides incredible benefits. Packed with Vitamin K, this vegetable can improve memory and strengthen your cognitive abilities. Broccoli also contains a healthy dose of folic acid, which can help ward off neurodegenerative disease. Eating plenty of broccoli can help with depression and keep you happy.
If you don’t enjoy the taste of raw broccoli, try blending it into a smoothie with your favourite ingredients. It also works well in a stir-fry or as a BBQ’d side dish with grilled steak. Meanwhile, broccoli sprouts contain even more nutrients than regular broccoli. Packed with sulforaphane, these powerful little sprouts will certain boost your brain into high gear. You can easily grow your own in a mason jar filled with filtered water.
Pumpkin seeds are often overlooked, but you just can’t deny how advantageous they are for the brain. They’re an excellent source of iron, zinc, copper and magnesium -- all crucial for healthy brain function. Pumpkin seeds are beneficial because they:
- Help control nerve signals
- Boost iron production to increase alertness and focus
- Improve sleep by triggering the production of melatonin
Eat pumpkin seeds throughout the day on-the-go. You can also sprinkle them into your salad or yogurt for some crunchy texture. This homemade granola recipe is another excellent way to incorporate these powerful little seeds into your diet.
At Physiomed, we understand good food is the cornerstone of healthy living. That’s why we offer nutritional counselling to ensure our patients are eating right. Whether you want to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or boost your cognitive abilities, rely on our team of expert dieticians and naturopaths to improve brain function. By incorporating the right foods into your diet, you can maintain your brain’s vitality for years to come!
For more information on nutritional counselling or to book an assessment, contact us here.