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12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But, you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep, and exercise, you may just rival Einstein in no time. Here are 12 ways simple foods coming out of the kitchen can make you smarter.

1) Nuts

nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline. Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E. Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels. Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

    2) Essential Fatty Acids

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    natural fatty acid

      Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory. The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids, so we must get them in our diet. Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

      3) Blueberries

      Blueberries

        Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package. When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

        4) Tomatoes

        Tomatoes

          Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

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          5) Vitamins: B vitamins / Folic Acid / Iron

          grapefruit

            Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid, and iron are kale, chard, spinach, and other dark leafy greens. B6, B12, and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment, like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke. Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group. Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils, and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span. To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

            6) Zinc

            Zinc

              Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus. Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory. Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

              7) Broccoli

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              Broccoli

                While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices. Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat. Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter, and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                8) Soy

                soy

                  Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory. Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form. Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                  9) Dark chocolate

                  Dark chocolate

                    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

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                    10) Gingko biloba

                    Gingko biloba

                      This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture, and is best known for its memory boosting brawn. It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply, and removing free radicals. However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                      11) Green and black tea

                      green tea

                        Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients. Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week vs. black tea which only lasts the day.

                        12) Sage / Rosemary

                        Rosemary

                          Both of these power herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity and alleviate mental fatigue in studies. Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                          When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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                          How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

                          How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

                          Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

                          But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

                          Sight – Visual Stimulation

                          The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

                          1. Maximize your exposure to light.

                          Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

                          Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

                          2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

                          Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

                          Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

                          Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

                          3. Take note of your environment.

                          Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

                          By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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                          Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

                          What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

                          4. Engage in conversation.

                          Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

                          Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

                          Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

                          Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

                          5. Listen to upbeat music.

                          Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

                          Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

                          Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

                          If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

                          6. Work your nose.

                          Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

                          If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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                          Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

                          Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

                          If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

                          7. Have a good breakfast.

                          Start off with the most important meal of the day.

                          Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

                          Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

                          Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

                          20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

                          8. Drink lots of water.

                          Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

                          So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

                          How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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                          Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

                          3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

                          9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

                          Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

                          Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

                          Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

                          25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

                          Touch – Tactile Stimulation

                          Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

                          10. Splash cold water on your face.

                          Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

                          This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

                          5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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                          11. Use acupressure.

                          Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

                          Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

                          12. Get moving.

                          Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

                          And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

                          You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

                          Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

                          Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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