There’s so much information out there about the best foods to eat for different health benefits that it can be both frustrating and confusing deciding which is best – and which actually work.
As we get older, so do our bodies, and our minds are not as sharp as they were. However, you can help your body and brain by choosing to eat “smart” foods that can improve your chances of keeping your brain healthy.
Caffeine can give you a real energy boost and help you focus. It’s found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks and some medicines, and it gives you a burst of alertness, although the effects don’t last long.
Too much caffeine can also make you feel jittery and uncomfortable.
It’s not often that sugar is on a recommended foods list, but your brain’s main fuel source is sugar – glucose, not table sugar. Your body processes glucose from the sugars and carbs that you eat, and a quick glass of fruit juice can give your brain a short-term boost.
3. Eat Breakfast
Skipping breakfast isn’t so good for your brain. Studies have shown that eating breakfast may help to improve short-term memory and attention span.
Students who eat breakfast tend to work better than those that don’t, and top brain foods for breakfast include high-fiber whole grains, dairy and fruit. Eat in moderation – research showed that higher-calorie breakfasts seem to lessen concentration.
Do you remember your grandma telling you that fish is good for the brain? She was right (as grandmas often are!). Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are especially good for the brain.
Those who eat diets rich in omega-3’s have a reduced risk of dementia and strokes, as well as slower mental decline. Omega-3’s may also help improve memory as we age.
5. Nuts and Chocolate
Nuts and seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which some studies have linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline as we age.
Dark chocolate is also full of antioxidants, as well as natural stimulants like caffeine.
Have up to an ounce per day of nuts and dark chocolate to reap all the benefits with only a low amount of extra calories, fat, or sugar.
6. Avocados and Whole Grains
All our organs depend on blood flow, and that is especially true for the brain and heart. Eating whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower dangerous cholesterol.
This enhances blood flow and reduces the risk of plaque buildup.
Research done on animals suggests that blueberries could help protect the brain from damage by free radicals, and may reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Rodent studies show that diets rich in blueberries improved the learning and muscle function of older rats.
8. Eat a Healthy Diet
If your diet is lacking in essential nutrients it can affect your ability to concentrate, as can eating too much or little. A large meal can make you feel tired, while not enough calories can result in feeling hungry and distracted.
9. Should You Take Nutritional Supplements?
There are many reports about the brain-improving powers of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene etc., but these supplements are only useful to those whose diets are lacking in them.
There is some reason to be optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral and herb combinations, and their possible advantages on the brain, but there needs to be more scientific proof.
10. Get the Best Start to the Day
If you want your brain to be at its best, start off with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole-grain bagel with salmon, and a coffee.
You should also get a good night’s sleep, make sure you’re staying hydrated during the day, getting enough exercise to boost your thinking, and meditating to help you relax.