Is there anybody who doesn’t know that the food we eat is consumed by every cell in the body for their energy needs? Most importantly, brain cells?
Do you know what a stress response is? No? Flight-or-fight response? That’s like a stress response. When you’re stressed, your body produces cytokines, inflammatory proteins that are required to fight the stress. But our body doesn’t differentiate between different kinds of stresses. Like, whether you actually have a murderer after you, or if it is just your boss who’s doing the torturing. So, our body produces the same response no matter the type of stress we have.
The stress response is generated to fight stress by causing inflammation. Recall that inflammation is required to heal a broken bone, and to fight infections. In this sense, inflammation is an effective and helpful response by our immune system. But the immune system doesn’t have 100% efficacy, and constant inflammation is hurtful and, in many cases, harmful.
Constant stress is more harmful than it may seem, and unabashedly lays the foundation of many of the most commonly occurring diseases in the world.
You may be surprised to know that your gut plays a crucial role in mediating immunity, overall physical and physiological health of the body, and enhancing brain function.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals are central to maintaining a healthy body despite all the external factors that may be at play. These foods also protect you (and me) from brain diseases.
Top 15 Brain Foods:
Undoubtedly, I can go on and on about this simple spice that’s been backed by Ayurveda for centuries for its numerous health benefits, and now by science.
The active agent in turmeric is the compound curcumin, which is known for its natural and powerful anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its anti-viral/fungal/bacterial actions.
Turmeric boosts antioxidant levels while keeping the immune system healthy and improving the brain’s oxygen intake. An increase in oxygen intake by the brain keeps you alert and processing information quicker, resulting in enhanced brain function.
There is a reason that avocados are allowed in restrictive low-carb diets: their high-fat content. The fats aren’t regular fats, but omega 3, mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids that are considered healthy and, not only that, the brain primarily requires these fats to function. Omega-3 fatty acids have an industry-wide good rep for their anti-inflammatory properties. The fats keep blood sugar levels under control, and the skin glowing.
Avocados also have vitamin K and folate that work in preventing blood clots in the brain, thereby protecting you against stroke. They also help and improve cognitive functions, including memory and concentration.
They are also packed with vitamin B and vitamin C that aren’t stored in the body as they are water soluble, which makes their excretion out of the body easier.
They also have the highest protein content while also having the lowest sugar content of all the fruits.
The creamy-smooth texture of avocados makes them an outstanding addition to smoothies.
Seafood lovers, look here! Salmon is one of the most nutritious, brain-healthy foods you can eat. Salmon is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids to keep your brain running smoothly, so you no longer need to worry about brain fog and memory issues.
For the kids, salmon can prevent ADHD by enhancing their focus. These fatty acids can also be effective in preventing cancers and killing tumors.
While the benefits of eating fish fills one with joy, please take care of the source of your salmon. Farm-raised and regular wild-caught salmon can often have mercury and toxins that are harmful. So, go for Alaskan wild-caught salmon to avoid toxicity or poisoning.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is known to hold polyphenols that are some of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. The olive oil can improve memory and fasten the process of learning, simultaneously reversing age- and disease-related changes in the body.
The oil may also help you fight against ADDLs, proteins that induce Alzheimer’s.
You might now be thinking that you should switch your cooking oil with extra virgin olive oil. I want to make it clear that it’s not a great option, as cooking hydrogenizes the oil and renders it saturated. It also begins to decompose at high temperatures. So, it is better to eat it cold or at room temperature, like in salads.
As a child, I used to think that walnuts are good for our brain because they look like brains. Though my argument was wrong, as it turns out, my assumption wasn’t!
Walnuts can improve your cognitive health. They also contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which also enhances mental alertness. Their vitamin E content can also help in protecting you against Alzheimer’s.
Rosemary herb must be so jealous of the popularity that rosemary oil enjoys because we know the good-old benefits or rosemary oil but not those of the herb counterpart.
Rosemary has carnosic acid, which keeps the brain protected from neurodegeneration. It is able to do this as it fights free radicals associated with neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, strokes and brain aging.
It also protects your eyesight from degrading because of its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Green Leafy Veggies
I always wondered how the unusually weak Popeye turned into a hero just by eating a can-full of spinach!
But now I know, as it has been worked out that regular consumption of green leaves like kale, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard can lower your risk of dementia.
Green leafy veggies are also packed with vitamins A and K that are known to fight inflammation and keep your bones strong.
You will be astounded to know that just a cup of kale has over 684 percent of your recommended daily allowed serving of vitamins.
8. Egg Yolk
What puts them on this list? Well, choline. Choline is essential to fetal brain development and should be consumed by pregnant women throughout their pregnancy. Egg yolks also break down bethane, which is a chemical that is involved in the synthesis of happy hormones.
If you’ve got high cholesterol, eggs may still be your friend. Studies have shown that eating eggs don’t affect or increase your cholesterol levels, they might even help increase good cholesterol levels.
Not to forget that it counts as one of the cheapest sources of protein. But please make sure that you buy organic, free-range eggs.
Celery has only 16 calories per cup, does that interest you in this good-food? Not just that, it has a lot more benefits than you may think.
It contains high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides that act as natural anti-inflammatory. It is nutrient-rich with little calories, which makes it a great snack option to shed weight.
Don’t just munch celery stalks, also include the seeds and leaves of the plant as they provide extra health benefits as well.
10. Dark Chocolate
If you love dark chocolate, you’ll soon love it even more! Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. They can also help lower high blood pressure and improve the flow of blood to the brain and the heart as well.
This doesn’t mean that you should keep eating your store-bought chocolates, as they are highly processed and have minimal benefits left in them. So, go for dark chocolate – the darker, the better! Dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa should be perfect.
11. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is one of the most versatile foods we can have in our pantries. There are about 77 uses of coconut oil – and cures – which implies that there’s almost nothing coconut oil cannot help you with.
For your brain, it works as a natural anti-inflammatory, and suppress cells that may cause inflammation. It also helps with age-related memory loss and destroys the bad bacteria in your gut.
Thank your mom for feeding you broccoli even when you didn’t want to. Broccoli is just plain effective in maintaining a healthy brain. The high levels of vitamin K and choline (we’ve already discussed earlier) in broccoli can keep your memory sharp.
It is also rich in vitamin C, so much so that just one cup can provide you with about 150 percent of your recommended daily intake.
Its high fiber content also makes it a good dieting alternative.
Don’t their tails look like they evolved from rats? Whatever. They are one of the most nutritious roots of all. They reduce inflammation, contain cancer-protecting antioxidants and may clear out body toxins.
They also have natural nitrates that boost the flow of blood to the brain, and help with mental performance.
If you are into workouts, beets can boost your performance in intensive training sessions.
14. Bone Broth
Bone broth is perhaps the most sought-after options in case of bone fractures.
However, bone broth is a food that has benefits ranging from boosting your immune system to overcoming a leaky gut, improving joint health to overcoming food allergies.
It has high levels of collagen, which reduce intestinal inflammation, and amino acids such as glycine and proline that keep the immune system up and working well. It also improves memory and cognition.
Never underestimate small sizes. Blueberries are one of the richest food known to man in terms of their antioxidant content. They also have high vitamin C and K and fiber.
Also, because of their high Gallic acid content, blueberries protect our brains from stress and degeneration.
So, what are you waiting for? Fall in love with these foods and reap the benefits. Include these foods in your diet for a healthy brain and live your life happily ever after.