As you sow, so shall you reap. The famous proverb not applies to everything including your body. Different people around the world have different eating habits and they carry on with those, at times even ingesting things which are harmful to the human body. Over the years as people have refined and the need for a balanced diet having been enumerated in various researches, certain diets more than others have been discovered to help improve the brain and to keep it healthy. Some of such diets are
We start this discussion with probably the most common breakfast, eggs. Eggs are a rich source of folate, choline, B6 and B12. To enumerate folate and the B vitamins deficiency has been linked to dementia and depression, so a regular intake of these in the form of eggs helps keep the mind young. Choline helps to create new Ach or acetylcholine, this in turn helps to regulate mood, memory and other mental functions.
2. Fatty Fish
Salmon, trout and sardines are among these fatty fish, they are rich in omega 3-fatty acids. It is important to note that 60% of the human brain is fat and half of that is the omega 3 kind. Omega 3 is used to build nerve cells and brain and are vital for memory and learning. Omega has also shown to fight off Alzheimer's disease. In addition eating fish also has a beneficial effect on the heart. Furthermore study shows that people who ate baked fish had more grey matter than non eaters; grey matter having a role in memory, emotion and decision making.
Being a rich source of anti-oxidants, they contain anthocyanins, proanthocyanins, tannins and resveratrol. These compounds also play a role in anti-inflammation. It is stated that blueberries help boost memory and concentration for up to 5 hours. They also play a role in delaying brain ageing and certain neurodegenerative diseases.
Another potent anti-oxidant, its active ingredient is curcumin which is known to cross the blood brain barrier. Although still in the process of being definitely proven, curcumin improves memory and may help clear amyloid plaques which are present in Alzheimer disease. Curcumin increases the quantity of serotonin, dopamine and brain derived neurotrophic factor which means that it not only helps the brain grow but it also improves mood and symptoms of depression.
5. Green tea
Well known to improve focus, alertness, performance, focus and memory; it does so by the presence of caffeine and L-theanine in addition to polyphenols and antioxidants. L-theanine has a lot of functions including, increasing alpha waves and GABA levels both of which help to relax and calm the mind. Polyphenols and antioxidants slow brain ageing and reduce the incidence of both Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.
Containing caffeine which is known to improve concentration, focus, mood, alertness and to promote relaxation coffee has become a regular part of the morning routine of many people specially in western countries. Also coffee is a rich source of antioxidants which as mentioned above play a role in reducing brain ageing and certain neurodegenerative diseases.
7. Pumpkin seeds
Again a rich source of antioxidants, pumpkin seeds contain other beneficial substances including zinc, magnesium, iron and copper. To elaborate zinc plays a role in nerve impulse signaling, magnesium is vital for learning and memory, copper is used to control nerve signaling and iron helps bring clarity to the brain. Their importance is signified by the various diseases which occur due to their deficiency including Alzheimer, Parkinson, depression, migraines and epilepsy.
Apart from their positive effects on the brain they also improve heart health. Containing antioxidants, essential oils, amino acids, copper, manganese, vitamins and some even provide omega 3 fatty acids one can imagine that they have a wide array of positive effects on the brain. They also prevent ageing and certain diseases like Alzheimer disease. Nuts improve memory and concentration.
9. Dark chocolate
Yes dark chocolate and cocoa powder are beneficial to the brain. A few of the brain boosting compounds contained include flavonoids, caffeine, magnesium and antioxidants. Chocolate also increases serotonin in the brain thereby improving mood, caffeine helps improve focus and concentration while promoting wakefulness, magnesium along with the flavonoids antioxidants increase memory reduce cognitive ageing and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
Combination of antioxidants and vitamin K. The antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative stress and species, prolonging brain health and delaying neurodegenerative diseases. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin and plays a pivotal role in forming sphingolipids, a fat type that is densely packed in the brain cells. Broccoli also has anti inflammatory properties.
These diets when included in our every day meals provide an ample supply of compounds which not only help the brain but also the heart, liver and kidneys. I will mention here the importance of water, we are made up of up to 70% water and it is vital to keep a healthy intake of water for our bodies to function at an optimum level (2-4 litres a day).
Nature has provided us with a large number of resources to help us function well. Other noteworthy mentions in this list include Oranges (antioxidants and vitamin C), avocados (increase brain blood supply), leafy green vegetables (rich in the B vitamins and folate), coconut oil, wild salmon, dandelion greens, asparagus, kimchi, jicama, kale and red wine. It should be noted here that these foods must not be taken in excess and a moderate amount be taken to reap the benefits. To get the most out of these foods one must also engage in activities to boost the brain such as meditation, exercise, yoga, running, reading, playing games (chess, Sudoku, scrabble etc). As an advice writing is a very good habit and check of our minds current condition, it helps to put things in prospect, and when it becomes a part of your regimen you will notice a marked improvement in your brain activity and function.