25 FOODS YOU SHOULD EAT TO IMPROVE YOUR BRAIN CAPACITY AND MEMORY
Have you ever taken the time to reflect on the most vital organ in your body? Do you even care about what affects this important organ negatively or positively? Or do you just eat whatever you like and think the organ will care for itself?
No, it depends on you to serve it the right meal. I am talking about nothing else but your brain.
Unfortunately, as vital as the brain is, the care for this organ is often overlooked. You will often hear people say, “My skin needs more care”,” Oh! I need to pay more attention to my hair”, ” I’d be fixing my nails”, ” I need some face-lift” etc., but I doubt if anyone has ever said, “I need to care for my brain”. That sounds awkward, right?
It’s high time you started paying conscious attention to your brain.
Let me do a quick review of the brain in order to remind you of its importance.
The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It produces our every thought, action, memory, feeling and experiences. This jelly-like mass of tissue, weighing around 1.4 kilograms, contains a staggering one hundred billion nerve cells or neurons.
The ageing of the brain is determined by some factors which include genes and lifestyle e.g. diets.
This reveals that, as a student, you should pay more careful attention to the kind of food you consume if you really want to get the best out of your brain’s functionality.
Here are some foods that have been scientifically proven to be healthy for the brain:
This tiny and attractive fruit contains an impressive amount of phytochemicals and antioxidants such as flavonoids.
It is also filled with great quantities of antioxidant phytonutrients such as anthocyanidins, flavonols, tannins etc. Let me not bore you with big names.
Oxidative stress increases the brain ageing process, therefore, slowing down brain performance or function.
However, a regular intake of this wonder fruit can help slow down memory impairments and motor coordination due to its high antioxidant content.
Blueberries also increase the proliferation of brain cells in the brain region responsible for memory. It also helps in an important way to improve concentration and memory.
Do you suffer from stress or depression? Then, I’d advise you grab a bowl of blueberries as it will deliver just the dose of mood improvement you need.
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The two active ingredients that help the brain include caffeine and antioxidants.
Let me tell you a quick biochemical study of how the caffeine in coffee helps the brain.
Caffeine competes with a particular neurotransmitter in the brain known as adenosine. Adenosine is responsible for alertness, attention and sleep.
Adenosine increases in the body as the day goes by and when it gets to a particular level, the brain tells the body to take a rest (sleep).
However, when caffeine comes in contact with the brain, it inhibits adenosine; hence the brain cell keeps running, keeping you awake and at alert.
The inhibition of adenosine causes an increment of chemicals such as dopamine and glutamine, these increase the flow of energy, build your mind and muscle, increase mental functions, encourage weight loss and decrease age-related mental decline.
Caffeine also increases learning by a rate of 10% and decreases depression. So when next you grab a cup of coffee, know your brain will be grateful.
Nevertheless, coffee should be taken with care as consuming too much coffee is harmful. The recommended minimum dosage is 400 milligrams which you get from approximately 4 cups.
It is also not recommended for people with high cholesterol level and pregnant/lactating women.
Round, sweet and juicy.
I would bet you also love oranges.
Okay. Here is some information that’d help you love it much more.
Oranges contain a large amount of vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant for the brain as it decreases oxidation processes, thereby slowing down the number of free radicals that damage your cells, tissues and DNA.
Owing to the fact that the brain has a very high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is more vulnerable to free radicals than other body cells. Hence, a need for antioxidants daily.
Vitamin C is also very important for the blood vessels in the brain, neurotransmitters, nerve cells and connective tissues.
It produces collagen in the connective tissue which increases the brain’s blood supply and provides the brain with the needed oxygen, nutrients and also removes waste products of metabolism from the brain.
This exciting Vitamin enables neurons (nerve cells) to reuse the neurotransmitter-glutamate. Glutamate is associated with the part of the brain that controls cognitive functions such as memory and linguistic skills.
From the tips above, you can see that lack of this Vitamin can be very deadly to the brain as it may cause cell death and brain damage.
Although all fruits contain Vitamin C at varying quantities, orange is considered a brain food because a single orange is enough to supply your body the daily requirement of Vitamin C.
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Hope you do not often ignore this dark green leafy vegetable?
If you do, then it is high time you give some considerations.
Spinach is rich in nutrients that are healthy for the brain such as Vitamin K, lutein, folate, Vitamin A and beta carotene. Vitamin K is known to be an essential vitamin for memory and focus which has been proven to be in large quantities in spinach.
It has also been proven to help reduce inflammation of the brain cells. Lutein found in spinach helps to enhance learning and memory while folate has the ability to lessen the impact of any mental and emotional disorder.
5. Dark Chocolate
It seems the brain has a thing for dark colours.
Unprocessed chocolate which is very dark in colour has been scientifically proven to be very healthy for the brain.
However, since unprocessed chocolates might not be easily accessible. You can go for less processed chocolates which still have about 70% Cocoa. This chocolate is high in flavanols which have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
So when next you feel a need to grab a bite of chocolate, intentionally demand a less processed one and your brain will thank you for it.
Egg rolls, scotched egg, omelette, boiled egg….. Varieties!
Obviously, there are different ways by which this beautiful animal produce can be consumed. Inasmuch as it is with the yolk, your brain will really appreciate that.
A single egg contains about 9 vitamins and different minerals. A super-food indeed!
Eggs also contain a chemical compound called choline which helps in the production of the neurotransmitter – acetylcholine; acetylcholine helps in the communication processes between the cells of the brain.
This neurotransmitter also assists in regulating mood, memory and intelligence.
In addition, eggs are rich in vitamin D which helps to ameliorate the brain’s cognitive ability. This vitamin is essential for focus and memory.
Avocado is packed with monounsaturated fats, Vitamin K, and folate.
Monounsaturated fat makes the brain very healthy because the brain is made up of about 60% fat; therefore this fat profits brain function and promotes blood flow.
Providing the brain with enough fat also promote ketosis- a process that provides ATP (energy) to the brain hence protecting the brain against diseases.
Since Avocado is a fatty fruit, it also provides choline which helps in the conversion of acetylcholine, just like eggs.
Vitamin K helps regulate calcium present in the brain, it is also very essential in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Folate in Avocados has been found to help reduce homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid which has been observed to cause cardiovascular and brain disorder.
Folate has also been observed to play an essential role in the formation of the nervous system in a fetus. Wow!
Folate also has the ability to prevent memory loss associated with ageing. Hence, Folate is not age specific; it is an essential brain nutrient for all age groups.
8. Fatty Fish
Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna, herring, Sardines…Grilled, boiled, roasted, spiced; anyhow you deem fit are very beneficial to the brain.
This is because as the name implies- fatty fish, these fishes are packed with healthy fat-Omega 3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) loaded in their oil. These fatty acids help fight depression and mild memory loss.
Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, etc., are healthy snacks for the brain.
This is because nuts contain saturated fats and Vitamin E which are essential for the brain’s cognitive ability, for instance, pecans produced the greatest gamma wave response, which is critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.
Peanuts, which are actually legumes, but were still part of the study, produced the highest delta response, which is associated with healthy immunity, natural healing, and deep sleep.
Snacking on nuts can be very healthy, so when next you feel like snacking or chewing something, you can go for nuts instead of doughnuts.
10. Coconut oil
There is a common African myth (especially Nigeria) that says when one drinks coconut water, he or she will develop intellectual abilities because of the unknown mystery behind the water found in the coconut. Many of us actually believed it and we always struggle for the coconut water. Lol
Indeed knowledge is power.
It is not actually the coconut water that helps the brain, rather the coconut oil. This is due to the healthy saturated fat present in coconut oil; it has the ability to give the brain quick energy- making it function as a brain fuel.
Also, coconut oil also contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) which breaks down ketones; these ketones have the ability to protect the brain’s nerve cells (neurons) from the negative effects of beta-amyloid peptides (responsible for forming brain plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients).
Coconut oil also treats neurological disorders. This super oil also has the ability to regenerate and heal the nerve function of the brain.
This awesome vegetable has a high level of polysaccharides, Vitamin C, Manganese and beta-carotene. It also has antioxidants which play a huge anti-inflammation role.
It is made up of various vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help the brain and prevents inflammation of the brain cells.
Its high amount of calcium and magnesium also play an awesome role in easing stress. This veggie has been proven to be of great benefit to those suffering from anxiety or depression due to hormonal imbalance.
Mushy and sweet
Bananas are loaded with the minerals – Magnesium and Potassium which provide energy for the brain and also help increase focus, learning and ability to pay attention.
The potassium in bananas helps the nerve cells of the brain to transmit messages while the magnesium helps the brain deal with stress.
Banana also provides the precursors to mood-regulating neurotransmitters – Serotonin and Dopamine.
These neurotransmitters are very important for brain functioning, provision of a feeling of pleasure and prevention of depression.
Additionally, the potassium in banana also helps provide oxygen to the brain and this keeps the mind sharp
A medicinal spice that is healthy for the brain.
This spice has been observed to produce sodium benzoate in the body after consumption.
The sodium benzoate produced is very beneficial to the brain in that it significantly increases some chemicals in the brain called neurotrophic factors.
This sodium benzoate helps to protect nerve cells (neurons), improve communication within the brain, and normalize nerve cells.
Studies also reveal that cinnamon assists in reducing reactive oxygen molecules that speed up the effects of ageing in the body and brain.
This wonderful vegetable that is always a part of the veggie salad is a very good source of the antioxidant- Fisetin. Fisetin; a naturally occurring flavonol helps slows down ageing and plays a great role in protecting the brain. Fisetin has also been shown to help improve memory and symptoms of Alzheimer disease.
You wouldn’t be wrong if you tag Tumeric a charming or magical spice. This is simply because this wonder spice has various health benefits.
Tumeric plays an awesome role in increasing the antioxidant level in the body and it also helps to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. Tumeric contains an active chemical compound called curcumin.
The chemical structure of curcumin makes it serve as the powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that leads to ageing of the brain.
Curcumin also increases the level of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor which leads to improvement in memory and makes you smarter.
16. Olive Oil
Olive oil remains one of the healthiest oil on earth.
It falls under the classification of foods that help the brain and memory simply because it has a lot of antioxidants – Polyphenols
Polyphenols improve memory and boost learning ability. It also equips the body with necessary mechanisms needed to fight certain proteins that act as toxins to the brain
These reddish swollen fruits are a very great source of lycopene and beta-carotene. They are very powerful antioxidants.
Lycopene in tomatoes helps to boost the brain and also prevents degenerative diseases such as dementia. Beta-carotene has the potential of reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain has been observed to be the first organ to experience stress, therefore adding tomatoes to your diet will help fight stress due to the powerful antioxidants tomatoes contain.
Consumption of tomatoes also plays a great role in the prevention of damage of healthy brain cells.
This fruit has been shown to have a very wonderful effect on the brain; owing to the fact that they are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Research also shows that blackcurrant juice has a great impact on attention, mood and learning as it affects the brain wave spectra.
In addition, blackcurrant juice reduces the activity of a particular enzyme – monoamine oxidase (MAO) which has two functions; it is responsible for the breakdown of monoamines in food.
Unfortunately, it also inactivates important neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine). The effect of this inactivation is a number of neurological disorders. Hence, a good consumption of black currant reduces the negative effect of MAO.
Yuck! You may not be a beetroot fan, but I can convince you to be one today.
You may also not have heard much about this plant before, so let me do a brief introduction.
Beets are food crops with swollen roots which contain nitrates that help increase the blood flow in the brain.
Its nutritious root also contains choline which helps the memory and increases concentration. Asides the nitrates, Beetroot also contains powerful antioxidants.
This Mediterranean herb plays a wonderful role in aiding memory and strengthening concentration. Rosemary contains Carnosic acid which helps combat any potential damage by free radicals. It also serves as a protection against neurodegenerative diseases and stroke.
Few studies believe that Rosemary oil is actually meant for remembrance, especially future remembrance; that is, remembering to remember.
One of the compounds in Rosemary oil that helps memory performance is 1,8-cineole; it has a very fine smell, therefore highly inhalable.
Since one of the best ways to get a drug to the brain is by inhalation, this compound is easily absorbed and it increases a particular neurotransmitter (acetylcholine); it does this by preventing the breakdown of this neurotransmitter. Hence, it may help in the treatment of dementia.
This tiny dessert fruit essentially helps fight inflammation and ageing of the brain.
Cherries are high in anthocyanins which improves memory and motor function. It also helps in clearing off free-radicals and it reduces brain inflammation.
Both the sweet and sour cherry have some beneficial effects on the brain. So either way, you are good to go!
The sight of strawberries excites me. It looks so beautiful! Not only is this fruit beautiful but it also benefits the brain and body.
Latest studies consistently showed that strawberry consumption is a simple way to improve cognitive function.
As you age, your brain tends to diminish in function but regular consumption of strawberries can help preserve brain function. This is due to the flavonols – Quercetin and kaemferol present in this super fruit.
Green and leafy. Yeah! It’s a veggie. A top Veggie at that.
Kale has numerous vitamins, minerals and antioxidants hence numerous benefit to the brain.
Kale are a wealthy source of antioxidants and this helps prevents oxidation in the brain, hence the brain will not age quickly neither will there be any form of damage to the brain.
They also prevents inflammation in the brain by maintaining the level of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the brain. It also helps to cleanse or remove toxic substances from the brain due to a high level of isothiocyanates present in it.
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24. Whole grains
The fibre in whole grains makes it a very good brain food as it helps ward off diseases in the brain. It also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disorders, inflammation, blood pressure, etc. Asides fibre, whole grains also contain various nutrients and minerals that are helpful to the brain.
Just like strawberry, raspberry contains a combination of nutrients that help the brain remain healthy and promote brain function.
It is rich in Flavonoids (antioxidant); anthocyanins and flavonols. This antioxidant has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, hence it can carry out its aiding function to the brain.
Raspberry helps fight inflammation of the nerve cells and protect the brain from damage. Additionally, Raspberry improves dementia, slow ageing of the brain and ameliorate memory.
Conclusively, I’ll advise you to pay more attention to your brain by consciously consuming healthy and beneficial diets. You’d thank me for it. 😉
So which of the fruits do you consume a lot and which one do you plan to eat more? Let me hear from you in the comment section. 🙂