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5 Foods You Must Eat for Maximum Brain Power

5 Foods You Must Eat for Maximum Brain Power

Human intelligence is a beautiful thing. It’s the reason we’re all still here today, and why we continue to do so, so successfully.

However, it doesn’t only help us as a whole – but also individually. How smart you are, and how you choose to apply it can change your situation dramatically for the better.

So what’s the secret to being the sharpest tool in the box? How do you get the most out of your brain?

There are so many answers to this question—mainly suggesting that you solve daily brain-teasers, get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly.

But what about the food you eat? Sure, a healthy diet plays a big part in how your brain performs – but are there any foods in particular that you could be added to your plate that could give you that extra edge?

In this article, we look closely at the top 5 foods that you could be eating to improve your brain and it’s performance.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Almonds

    Credit: Flickr.com, HealthAliciousNess

    Almonds are arguably the best type of nut you could be eating for brain power – and this is why you need more of them.

    Reason #1 – It’s a lean protein

    Protein is a part of the core foundation of your diet. It helps to promote energy levels and helps to rebuild muscle mass after a workout.

    But did you know that it can also help rebuild brain cells?

    The protein that almonds provide also helps to improve and repair brain cells,[1] which can help with both your overall cognition, and memory.

    Reason #2 – It’s full of Zinc

    Zinc is a great mineral for your body and your mind. The main reason it’s so good is that it helps to strengthen your immune system.

    By keeping the illnesses at bay, you’ll have less chance of suffering the cloudy mind that comes with a cold or flu.

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    Not only that, it’s a potent antioxidant. This means its good at stopping free radicals in your blood stream.

    These are essentially weak molecular bonds in your body that split. The problem is they’re unbalanced, which can lead to them breaking down brain cells.

    To counter this, zinc can inhibit these free radicals and stop them from doing further damage, allowing you to retain more brain power.

    Reason #3 – It contains both Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E

    You don’t need me to tell you how good vitamins are for your overall health – but how do they help your brain?

    Vitamin B6 has been seen to help promote overall brain health. Whereas Vitamin E has been seen to lessen cognitive decline and the aging of brain cells.

    Reason #4 – Fatty Acids

    Almonds are packed with fatty acids – which is serious fuel for your brain.

    Fatty acids have been seen to not only help with overall brain health, but to also strengthen nerves in the brain.

    It’s a powerful addition.

    2. Dark Chocolate

      Credit: Flickr.com, Urban Wired

      Despite what you may hear about chocolate being bad – dark chocolate has numerous health benefits.

      It’s lower in sugar, higher in cocoa and can help your brain for numerous reasons.

      Reason #1: Tryptophan

      Dark chocolate is rich in Tryptophan, an amino acid that is linked to both releasing serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ hormone) and endorphins in your body.

      This can help to greatly influence your mood and give you that extra motivation and confidence in yourself to complete tasks more thoroughly.

      Reason #2: Flavonoids

      Flavonoids are components found in dark chocolate that help to increase overall blood flow to the brain.

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      With more blood rushing to your brain, the better it can operate. One of the main advantages to better brain circulation is improved short term memory and focus.

      Reason #3: Antioxidants

      Like we’ve already mentioned when we talked about almonds, antioxidants are great for your brainpower.

      By controlling unattached oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, the antioxidants in dark chocolate can help to neutralize them.

      This reduces the damage it can cause to your brain cells.

      Reason #4: Magnesium

      Rich in the mineral magnesium, dark chocolate is great for reducing stress.

      Magnesium has been linked to helping lower cortisol in your body – the stress hormone.

      The more stressed you are, the higher your cortisol levels will be. High cortisol can stop your focus and concentration and make you feel distracted and pressured.

      With less cortisol, you feel calmer and better throughout the day.

      3. Broccoli

        Credit: Flickr.com, Steven Lilley

        Now there’s a new reason you should always eat your greens. Broccoli isn’t just good for overall health, but it’s great for your cognition too.

        Reason #1: Choline

        This is a great nutrient. Choline is a molecule that does wonders for your cognition.

        After being ingested, choline is converted in CDP-choline, a neurotransmitter that promotes both learning and focus.

        It’s a solid choice for brain development, and something you want to be getting a lot of in your diet.

        Reason #2: Anti-inflammatory Properties

        Another benefit of broccoli is its ability to reduce inflammation.

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        Typically when you hear inflammation, it’s easy to think of swollen joints or bloating – but it can also help your brain as well.

        By reducing inflammation, broccoli can help support sensitive areas of your brain and prevent against cognitive decline.

        4. Rhodiola Rosea

          Credit: Flickr.com, Tero Laakso

          Rhodiola Rosea is a Scandinavian herb. There are numerous health websites out there like Muxcle.com that recommend Rhodiola Rosea as a nootropic.

          This isn’t a food you’ll typically find in your diet – but if you want to go the extra mile and supplement it, your brain is going to thank you.

          Reason #1: Mood

          One of the main benefits of Rhodiola Rosea is the effect it can have on your mood.

          Numerous studies have shown that this herb has been seen to raise feelings of ‘well-being’ in subjects while also reducing stress levels and depression.[2]

          This allows you to have a more positive outlook on your day, and get more done.

          Reason #2: Mind

          Another reason why Rhodiola Rosea is so popular is that it can also help reduce fatigue and improve memory.[3]

          This makes your mind a lot sharper and allows you to continue being productive for longer.

          How much Rhodiola Rosea should you use?

          As this isn’t a typical food, it can be hard to know where to start with Rhodiola Rosea – and you don’t need much.

          Some recommend taking 288 – 680mg per day of the herb; this is more than enough to have an effective impact. When it comes to herbs and supplements, you should always consult your physician to determine what dosage you should take (or if you should take it at all).

          5. Blueberries

            Credit: Flickr.com, mellow-stuff mie

            Finally we have blueberries. This fruit isn’t just great as a snack or in a smoothie – it’s also great brain food.

            Here’s how something as delcious and as simple as blueberries can take your cognition to the next level.

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            Reason #1: Antioxidants

            As with almonds and dark chocolate, blueberries are another food that contains antioxidants.

            This can help to control any free radicals in your bloodstream and can help reduce damage to your brain cells.

            Reason #2: Anti-Inflammatory Properties

            Like broccoli, blueberries are a great anti-inflammatory. Much like broccoli, this can help with inflammation in certain areas of your brain.

            This can help with memory formation and in making your brain more effective as a whole.

            Reason #3: Anthocyanin

            Blueberries also contain Anthocyanin. This is great for long-term cognitive benefits.

            Anthocyanin has been seen in several studies to help as a natural aid for reducing the chances of Alzheimers in later life.[4]

            It’s a good nutrient to have on board.

            5 Foods You Must Eat for Maximum Brain Power Review Conclusion

            As you can see, if you’re looking to sharpen your mind, there are several foods you can start eating today to further your mental agility.

            One of the main things you need to remember is that antioxidants are your friend.

            Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables that are packed with these nutrients and let your brain do the rest.

            As a safety reminder, please consult your physician before taking any herbs or supplements.

            Featured photo credit: Flickr.com via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on December 2, 2019

            7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

            7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages

            Forgot a name? Misplaced your keys? Taking longer to find the right words? Don’t panic. There’s plenty you can do to improve your memory.

            You’re probably expecting us to reveal 7 little known and newly discovered herbs from the forests of the Amazon, the peaks of the Himalayas and the Arctic tundra. No such luck.

            Despite Americans spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Ginkgo Biloba, Ashwagandha, Periwinkle, Bacopa, Vitamin B’s, Omega 3’s and memory boosting supplement cocktails, there is very little scientific evidence they actually work. [1]

            So, how do we remember?

            The first process in remembering is creating a memory.

            This is where our brain sends a signal, associated with a thought, event or piece of information our mind is processing, over our brains neural pathways, called synapses.

            Think of our neural pathways like roads and information like trucks. The better the roads, the more trucks can be driven.

            The second step in remembering is memory consolidation.

            Consolidation is when the brain takes that thought, event or piece of information and actually stores it in the brain. So now we’re talking about taking delivery of the trucks and storing its contents in the warehouse.

            Consolidation helps us store information and label it properly, so its organized and easy to retrieve when needed.

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            The last step is memory retrieval.

            That’s the step whereby we try to retrieve the information stored in our brains. You know when you have the name of someone on the tip of your tongue.

            You have the information; it’s been stored, but you just can’t find it. Our memory recall is typically better the stronger the memory is and the more often we’ve used it.

            Memory decline is a normal part of aging. However, new scientific research is discovering many new ways for us to improve memory creation, consolidation and retrieval–no matter our age.

            I’m going to offer you 7 completely natural memory boosters, backed up by scientific research. It may take a little more effort than a magic memory pill, but the benefits will transcend your memory and improve your overall quality of life as well, making you more fit, energetic, happy and sharp.

            1. MIND Diet

            Healthy eating, particularly more dark colored fruit, vegetables and oily fish has been shown to improve memory and stave off cognitive decline.

            The MIND diet is proven to reduce the risk of dementia. It’s a mix of the popular Mediterranean diet and the low blood pressure DASH diet.[2]

            The study kept track of the diets of almost 1,000 older adults. They were followed for an average of 4½ years.

            The study concluded that “people whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style.”

            The study also showed that people who followed the MIND diet in the study reduced their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in half.

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            So what does the MIND diet consist of? Lots of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine.

            2. Aerobic Exercise

            Aerobic activity is about as close as we get to a magic pill for our memories. Exercise helps your brain create new capillaries and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new brain cells and connections. To put it in plain english, aerobic activity changes our brains and helps it grow.

            Studies have shown that exercising increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. In fact, even if you start exercising as an older adult, you can reverse cognitive decline by 1 to 2 years and protects against further decreases in the size of the hippocampus, which is essential for memory.[3]

            In another study, reviewed by Dr. Ian Robertson of the University of Dublin, they looked at a group of people of 60 years and older, who engaged in “active walking” for four months.

            They compared them with another group of people who only stretched over the same period of time. After testing both groups before and after the 4 month period, the walkers improved their memory and attention considerably more than the stretching group.

            So which exercises are best and how much do we have to exercise?

            Turns out, it doesn’t really matter whether you run, swim, row or bike. What does matter is that you push yourself beyond your current abilities, keep doing more, keep getting better. Set yourself short term goals and keep pushing the goal posts.

            3. Sleep

            You need your sleep. The deeper the better. Sleep helps improve your procedural memory (how to do things, like how do I navigate my iPhone) and declarative memory (facts, like what’s my password).[4]

            Even short naps from 6 to 45 minutes have been shown to improve your memory. In one Harvard study, college students memorized pairs of unrelated words, memorized a maze and copied a complex form. All were tested on their work. Half were then allowed to take a 45 minute nap. They were then retested. Those who took a nap, got a boost in their performance.[5]

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            Another study showed that getting REM (deep) sleep can increase your memory and mental performance by 33% to 73%. Getting a deep sleep helps the brain consolidate memories through dreams and “associative processing”. However, the study also revealed that heart rate variability in deep sleep also contributed significantly to increased memory performance.[6]

            4. Relax

            We all know that stress is bad for our health. It can raise our blood pressure, impact our immune system and interrupt our sleep. Stress also impairs our memory.

            When our body gets stressed, it releases cortisol into our blood stream, which can cause short and long term physical changes to the brain. While cortisol has sometimes been shown to cause increases in short term memory, it can actually decrease our long term recall memory.

            To help reduce the stress in your life, try relaxing with meditation, yoga or breathing exercises. Unplug–even for just a few hours. Stop checking your emails, social accounts and news. Release some endorphins with some exercise.

            Bottom line, the more anxious and stressed we are, the less clearly we think, the poorer our memory works.

            5. Continuous Learning

            The mind is like a muscle. The more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. The more you learn, the more you can learn.

            Research shows that learning can actually change the physical makeup of your brain. Not too long ago, we used to think that you were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, which declined with age. New research now shows that we can actually increase the number of brain cells we have throughout our life.

            Aside from staying physically active, learning new skills and studying can actually keep our brains healthier. Consider taking a continuing education class, studying a new language, learning a new instrument, playing new card games.[7]

            Studies show that the more complex the task, the more benefits for your mind. Simply showing up to class is not enough. You need to be actively engaged. Anything that forces you to focus and learn something new and get out of a rote routine will help you sharpen your mind and boost your memory.

            Try these 15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain.

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            6. Stay Social

            The more deep and meaningful social connections you maintain, the more you protect your brain. Bottom line, the more friends you have, the more people you work with, the more you’re forced to use your brain.

            Social isolation and loneliness are significant risks of dementia. Without interacting with others, our brains wilt. Isolation and loneliness lead to depression, physical and mental decline.[8]

            In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, seniors with a full social calendar did better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests.[9]

            What to do?

            Party! Seriously, get together with friends as often as possible. Have family dinners. Choose social activities or sports like tennis, golf, cards or go for walks with a friend. Bottom line have fun, build meaningful social relationships and stay connected. Not only will it make your mind sharper and your memory better, you’ll be happier, too!

            7. Wakeful Rest

            This one is getting harder and harder to do. In a world where we can’t sit on a bus, go up an elevator or go to the bathroom without our phones, doing absolutely nothing to distract our minds is becoming increasingly difficult.

            But, the results are in. Doing nothing is great for your memory. Quietly resting for 10 minutes, after you learn something will help you remember and help you create more detailed memories.[10]

            What we do minutes after we learn something new has a significant impact on how well we retain the new information. In another study, it didn’t matter what you did after you learned something new, as long as you weren’t distracted by outside factors. In other words, you could be thinking of your day, making a grocery list, or thinking of a story.

            In either case, wakeful rest for a period of 10 minutes helped the brain process and consolidate your memories so that you were better able to recall the information at a later date.[11]

            Bottom Line

            You don’t have to spend a dime on cocktails and supplements promising a quick boost to your memory power. There is very little conclusive scientific evidence suggesting supplements will help improve the memories of healthy individuals–not for Ginkgo Biloba, Vitamin B, fish oils, Vitamin D, Folate or other supplements claiming they a secret formula.

            There are far cheaper and more effective ways to boost your memory: exercise, rest, eat well, learn, love, laugh and relax. Who wouldn’t want that prescription?

            More About Boosting Brain Power

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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