Did you know that the brain uses up around 20% of the body’s calories? That’s a lot! So the foods you are eating do in fact play a big role in how well (or unwell) your brain is functioning. There are certain foods you can add to your diet to aid your brain in short term and long term function.
So here are 11 brain-boosting foods that you can eat to help your brain stay engaged, focused and healthy!
1. Oily fish
Oily fish contains something called omega-3, Which has shown to help your brain health tremendously.
Omega-3 aids in building membranes around all the cells in the body – including brain cells. This in turns, helps improve the structure of neurons (brain cells). A study done in 2017 discovered that people who had an abundance in levels of omega-3, were shown to have increased blood flow in the brain. This was linked to better cognition and thinking abilities.
Oily fish is a fantastic source to get an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids.
Some oily fish with high levels of omega-3s include:
If you cannot eat fish due to dietary restrictions of any kind, don’t worry! You can get omega-3 from foods like: soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.
2. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains a special type of antioxidant, known as flavonoids.
Antioxidants are great for boosting brain health – as the brain is incredibly susceptible to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been connected to age-related cognitive decline and other brain diseases.
According to a 2013 study, Cacao flavonoids have shown evidence of encouraging neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.
It was concluded that eating dark chocolate with 70% cacao has shown to improve brain plasticity – which aids in learning and other cognitive benefits.
3. Whole grains
Whole grains are a fantastic source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a nutrient your body needs to support your immune system and aid with cell regeneration. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can incorporate the following whole grain foods into your diet:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur wheat
- Whole-grain bread
- Whole-grain pasta
Eggs are a fantastic source of many different nutrients that have been linked to brain health.
Choline is one of them. Choline is nutrient similar to the B vitamins. It is an essential nutrient that regulates vital bodily functions, such as forming cell membranes and aiding communication between neurons. Your body uses it to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.
Our body does produce some choline on it’s own (in the liver) however, not enough. Eggs are a super easy way to increase the levels of choline in our bodies.
Egg yolks have been found to be one of the most concentrated sources of this nutrient.
Eating eggs is an easy way to get choline, given that egg yolks are among the most concentrated sources of this nutrient.
Eggs also have vitamin B which plays a role in brain health. Vitamin B has been linked to slowing the progression of mental decline in older adults. Having a deficiency in the 2 types of vitamin B (folate and B12) has been linked to depression. Vitamin B12 is also involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels specifically in the brain.
So consider adding eggs to your daily meals if you don’t already!
Similar to dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants – which makes these berries good food for the brain.
Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress- which has been seen to greatly affect the brain and it’s abilities. The antioxidants in berries include: anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.
A 2014 review found that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain such as:
- improving communication between neurons
- increasing plasticity (helps neurons form new connections which boosts memory)
- reducing inflammation throughout the body – especially the brain
- reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline
Consider adding the following berries into your diet to boost your brain health:
6. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a plant-based source of the good kind of fats and proteins.
They contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants – both of which are excellent brain-boosting nutrients. A 2014 study found that eating more nuts overall was linked to better brain function in older age. Nuts and seeds are also rich with antioxidants of vitamin E, which we know protects our bodies from oxidative stress.
The following nuts and seeds have the highest amounts of vitamin E:
- Sunflower seeds
Walnuts are also a great source of not only antioxidants, but omega-3 datty acids as well.
Many people drink coffee daily to help them stay awake and increase concentration. This works by the caffeine in coffee blocking a brain substance known as adenosine – which makes people feel sleepy.
Not only does coffee boost your energy and awareness levels, but a 2018 study found that caffeine may also increase the brain’s capacity for processing information.
Coffee is also a great source of antioxidants and has been linked to reduced risk of cognitive decline, stroke, Alzhimer’s disease and other cognitive decline.
However, coffee can also mess up your sleeping schedule so consume in moderation or seek advice from a medical professional first.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and nutrients. Not only is broccoli a low calorie source of fibre, it has been linked to brain health as well. Broccoli has an abundance of glucosinolates. When glucosionlates get broken down by the body, the product is isothiocyanate.
Isothiocyanates have been linked to reducing oxidative stress and lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Broccoli also contains vitamin C and flavonoids – both antioxidants that have been linked to boosting brain health.
Aside from broccoli, consider adding the following cruciferous vegetables rich with glucosinolates into your diet:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok choy
Avacados are a source of a good kind of unsaturated fat. A source of healthful unsaturated fat. Eating monounsaturated fats has been linked to reducing blood pressure. This is helpful to the brain as high blood pressure has been connected to cognitive decline.
Other sources of healthful unsaturated fats include:
- Almonds, cashews, and peanuts
- Flaxseed and chia seeds
- Soybean, sunflower, and canola oils
- Walnuts and Brazil nuts
Turmeric is a deep yellow coloured spice that is used in many different asian cusines, especially curry. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to “cross the blood-brain barrier”, meaning it can directly enter the brain and aid the neurons there.
It is a very strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties and has been linked to benefiting memory, easing depression and aiding the growth of new brain cells (neurons). Plus, it may help delay age related mental decline.
However, turmeric has a low percentage of curcumin so if you want to reap greater benefits of curcumin, consider curcumin supplements.
11. Soy products
Soybean products are rich in a particular group of antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols have been linked with reduced risk of dementia as well as improved cognitive function.
Soy products contain polyphenols called isoflavones, including daidzein and genistein. These chemicals act as antioxidants, providing a range of health benefits throughout the body.
Supplements for brain function
Sometimes, it can be difficult for us to incorporate certain foods in our diets due to our dietary restrictions. Or maybe we need an increase of a certain compound in a food that is hard to get concentrated doses of.
It is important to get supplements according to your specific needs. However, if you’re looking for supplements that target all areas of your brain health, a great option could be NeuroActiv6.
NeuroActiv6 has been specifically designed to include polyphenol compounds, nootropics, and bio-active ingredients that work to promote a healthy inflammatory response, lower oxidative stress and support healthy cortisol levels, raise BDNF levels, and promote neural communication. Made with all natural and pure ingredients.
The best part, instead of having to take multiple pills and supplements daily to accomplish this same outcome, NeuroActiv6 has scientifically proven doses of all necessary compounds and put them into one all-encompassing, healthy and great-tasting drink mix with the following benefits:
- Feel Energized, Motivated & Alert
- Elevates Mood & Calms the Mind
- Eliminates Brain Fog, Improves Mental Clarity
- Nourishes and Support a Healthy brain
- Contains Powerful Polyphenols
- Increases Brain Energy & Recall Speed