An evidence-based guide to brain foods that improve memory and focus


Many people would do anything to become smarter, but it’s actually a lot simpler to achieve this than you might think. By choosing the right foods, you can easily improve your brain health and achieve better memory and focus.

Food can either be damaging or beneficial to the brain, and with so many options available, choosing the right foods can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, there have been countless studies that have identified foods rich in nutrients that are good for the brain. These are collectively called “brain foods,” which include fish, eggs, and certain fruits and vegetables.

Fish is well-known for being rich in omega-3s, which area very versatile nutrient when it comes to supporting brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining the quality of brain cells since they are one of the components in cell membranes and nerve cells. Omega-3s can also reduce inflammation associated with diseases like depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

More than 70 percent of the world’s population do not get sufficient amounts of this nutrient, which is worrisome since a deficiency in a specific omega-3 called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been linked to premature brain aging, cognitive decline, brain shrinkage, and many other neurological conditions.

Fish is also a good source of proteins that are used to produce serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters work to improve mood and appetite. Furthermore, dopamine and serotonin also have a role in regulating movement and digestion, respectively. Specialists from Harvard Medical School recommend a weekly consumption of 12 ounces of fish like herring, salmon, mackerel, or sardines to help support the brain.

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Like fish, eggs are also rich in proteins, vitamin B12, and omega-3s but there is more to them than these nutrients. They also have high amounts of tryptophan and choline, which are building blocks of serotonin and acetylcholine, respectively.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning. By having adequate levels of acetylcholine, people can enjoy sharper memory, improved focus, and lower risk for Alzheimer’s. Choline is also necessary to produce citicoline, a chemical important for promoting blood flow to the brain as well as the breakdown of glucose for energy. Although many people avoid this food because of the cholesterol content, there is actually no evidence that eggs cause fat-related heart problems. In fact, cholesterol from eggs are beneficial high-density lipoproteins that are important for brain health.

Additional foods that nurture your brain

Berries are also important brain foods because they are packed with flavonoids. These phytonutrients don’t just give berries their beautiful colors, they are also renowned antioxidants that protect the brain cells from free radical-induced damage and chronic inflammation. Moreover, they can improve memory, learning, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Flavonoids also facilitate the renewal of brain cells by increasing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which can cause neurological problems at low levels. Berries are also rich in resveratrol which can help maintain proper brain function even in adults.

Avocados are also highly recommended since they are rich in healthy fats that can be used to produce acetylcholine. They are also loaded with tyrosine which serves as a building block for dopamine. Aside from these, eating avocados also improves nutrient absorption and blood flow to the brain.

The green leafy vegetable known as kale is a superfood that serves as an excellent source of nutrients like antioxidants, tyrosine, vitamins, and minerals. High amounts of vitamin C in kale help improve depression by stimulating serotonin production, while vitamin K improves verbal memory and works as a neuroprotectant. Kale also has vitamins B6 and B12, which work together to prevent memory loss, brain aging, depression, and brain atrophy.

Many people enjoy dark chocolate because of its taste, but eating it is in fact also beneficial to the brain. It contains anandamide, which is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to improve mood. This neurotransmitter is an endocannabinoid that triggers a response similar to the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol found in cannabis since it binds to the same receptors.

Aside from anandamide, dark chocolate also has phenylethylamine, another psychoactive compound that gives off a sense of euphoria. Caffeine is also found in chocolate, but only in small amounts that are still sufficient to help memory, mood, and concentration.

Turmeric is an all-around spice that is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Aside from these, it has also been shown to be as effective as Prozac in treating depression. Bioactive compounds found in turmeric include curcumin and turmerone, which stimulate the production of neurons as well as brain repair.

There are many foods that support brain development and function but there are also many others that are very damaging to the brain, like sugar and trans-fats. Aside from choosing to eat brain foods, there must also be a constant choice to avoid the damaging ones. With these, people will be able to fully enjoy improved memory and focus, as well as a reduced risk for neurological diseases.

Sources include:

BeBrainFit.com

BetterHelp.com

Medium.com



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