How to Boost Your Brainpower
Is it really possible for our diet to boost our brainpower? Don’t our genes play a large role in determining our brainpower rather than our diet or any exercise? What happens to our brainpower as we age – does experience increase brainpower or does aging impair it?
Food for the Brain: Antioxidants
Brain power is dependent on the nerve cells. These nerve cells become helpless in protecting us against the free radicals. However, antioxidants help shield the body from the actions of free radicals. Such antioxidants include well-known nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium, and they are widely available in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains:
1. Fruits: Eat blueberries, blackberries, red delicious apples with the skin, sweet cherries, black plums, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, avocados, navel oranges, and red grapes. These are rich source of antioxidants.
2. Vegetables: Raw ginger root, raw garlic, cooked red cabbage, cooked broccoli, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), red bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and tomatoes are rich in antioxidants.
3. Nuts: Include pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts in your diet as they are rich sources of antioxidants.
4. Whole grains: Whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice are another source rich in antioxidants.
Food for the Brain: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
For a strong memory, our brain cells need to communicate quickly and easily with one another. Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) help the nerve cells communicate properly, improve mental concentration and fight memory loss.
According to the International Food Information Council, a higher level of omega-3 fatty acid consumption can reduce the risk of bone loss, certain cancers, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids can’t be manufactured in the body; hence we need to get it from external sources such as oily cold-water fish. Also, once or twice a week you should include salmon, sardines, bluefish, herring, mackerel, or tuna in your menu.
Food for the Brain: Other Key Players
Apart from the fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and grains, some other food-based compounds can also help to protect our memory and cognitive abilities. These include
B vitamins: Folic acid and niacin are the most important vitamins which help in preserving brain functions. These vitamins help control inflammation and promote the development of new brain cells.
Lean meats, fish, legumes, dairy products, grains, and green leafy vegetables are rich sources of B vitamins.
Co-enzyme Q-10: Coenzyme Q10 also known as CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant that is directly absorbed by the brain. It is involved with energy production in both the heart and brain. It also appears to protect the nerves and may slow aging processes as well.
Beef, chicken, nuts, and oils are the rich dietary sources of Coenzyme Q10.
Alpha-lipoic acid: Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is another important antioxidant which helps to neutralize free radicals and counter nerve damage.
Spinach, broccoli, beef, yeast (particularly brewer's yeast), and certain organ meats are good dietary sources of ALA.
Take the first step towards healthy age – focus on a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and oily cold-water fish which are rich in the brain-boosting substances such as antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other important natural compounds. Aging may impair our body and mind impaired but it can be overcome to some extent with proper nutrition and diets.
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