Eating well is good for one’s physical health as well as mental health, i.e., memory, mental clarity, and intelligence. The human brain requires food and nutrients just like the muscles, lungs, or heart do. However, one must eat the right foods. When it comes to boosting brain power, there are some nutrients and foods that studies show have an edge for keeping kids and adults sharp and fueled for most of the day. Research shows that what people eat is one of the most potent influences on brain skills. In fact, the right foods may stave off Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory age-related conditions such as dementia.
Nutrition should become a normal, everyday part of mental health care. The brain is the platform for the mind, and thus, the platform for people’s mental health. However, the current scientific understanding of the workings of the brain is less advanced than the understanding of how other body organs work. This presents a wide range of wasted opportunities to improve mental health in the society. It is common knowledge that the brain is largely made up of water, fatty acids and other nutrients. Everyone knows that food affects how one feels, behaves, and thinks. In fact, dietary interventions may hold the key to several mental health issues affecting the society. Unfortunately, most people rarely invest their time and effort in expanding this knowledge.
Fortunately, the growing body of evidence concerning the role of nutrition in relation to brain power, and a number of prominent voices are championing the role of diet in the treatment and care of individuals with mental health issues. Some of the top foods for brain power include:
Omega 3–Rich Foods
EPA and DHA, 2 types of omega–3 fatty acids, are associated with better mood and lower risk of depression, as well as brain development. The body cannot produce these essential fatty acids; thus, people must obtain them through diet. EPA and DHA, in particular, occur naturally in fatty fish such as salmon. Seafood like mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon are packed with omega–3 fatty acids, versatile and powerful nutrients that are important for a healthy mind. Research shows that people who eat fish three times a week have higher levels of DHA in their blood, which reduces their risk of Alzheimer’s by about 39%.
Like every other organ in the body, the brain cannot function without energy. The ability to focus and concentrate comes from the steady, adequate supply of energy in form of glucose. Fiber–rich oatmeal, brown rice, oat bran, brown pasta, granary bread, and wheat bran help to stabilize blood glucose levels. Since glucose is the brain’s primary source of energy, it is essential to keep levels steady to stay mentally alert throughout the day.
Vitamins for Vitality
Research shows that certain vitamins, such as vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and folic acid, reduce the level of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine can increase the risk of cognitive impairment, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Some of the foods rich in vitamin B6 include pork, fish, poultry, whole cereals, eggs, vegetables, milk, and peanuts. Vitamin B12-rich foods include meat, milk, cod, cheese, and eggs. Good sources of folic acid include broccoli, liver, spinach, peas, and asparagus. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is believed to have the power to improve mental agility. A great source of vitamin C is blackcurrants.
Cruciferous Veggies and Leafy Green
Pile stir-fries, salads, and side dishes with cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. These foods are packed with antioxidants and carotenoids, which are powerful brain protectors. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging the brain. Free radicals are waste products produced when cells use fuel to create energy. Since the brain produces a large amount of these waste products, enough antioxidants are necessary to defuse and disarm them. Cruciferous veggies are especially effective at doing this.
Other foods that can boost brain power include avocado, nuts, seeds, oils, chocolate, curry, and berries. Interestingly, alcohol in moderation can Protect the brain. However, chronic, heavy drinking causes serious dementia. A recent study shows that people who took one to six drinks each week were 54% less likely to suffer from dementia than people who never drink at all. Water is also important for the brain. Every cell in the body need water to survive and thrive, and brain cells are no exception.