Boost Your IQ the Simple Way
By Dr. Kailey Fargo, D.C.
No, there is no simple pill to prevent memory change and cognitive decline. However, the foods we eat may play a key role in helping to maintain brain health and provide long-term stability. Memory and concentration are two of the most important functions of the brain, and many nutritionists emphasize that the most important strategy for maintaining brain health is to follow a balanced dietary plan full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein with healthy fats. Here is a list of the top foods to be eating to help boost the power of the brain:
- Fatty fish: About 60% of our brain is made of fat, mainly omega-3 fatty acids. Our brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells which are essential for learning and memory. People who eat fish regularly also have higher levels of gray matter in their brains. Fish like salmon, trout, tuna, herring, and sardines all contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Coffee: Both caffeine and antioxidants can help to support brain health including alertness, improved mood, and sharpened concentration. Drinking coffee long-term can help reduce the risk of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- Blueberries: They deliver anthocyanins, which are powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. These can help fight oxidative stress and inflammation, which are both conditions that contribute to brain aging.
- Tumeric: Curcumin is the main ingredient in turmeric and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the cells of the brain. Its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help with memory, depression, and new cell growth.
- Broccoli: Contains high levels of vitamin K, which is essential for fat creation in the interior of the brain. Higher levels of vitamin K have been linked to better memory and cognitive status.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Also contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free-radical damage. They also contain zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper which all contribute to specific nerve signaling functions of the brain.
- Dark Chocolate: Contain flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants when there is enough cocoa content (70% or greater). Flavanoids gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. Researchers believe that these compounds may help slow down age-related mental decline. Chocolate is also a legitimate mood booster.
- Oranges: One can get almost their entire daily dose of Vitamin C by eating one orange. Vitamin C is a key factor in tasks like focus, memory, attention, and decision speed. This is because it is a powerful antioxidant to help fight off free radicals that damage brain cells.
- Eggs: One of the highest sources of choline from any food. Choline is an important micronutrient that a body needs to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. Eggs also contain B vitamins which slow the progression of mental decline in older adults. Deficiency in folate and B12 has been linked with depression.
- Nuts: May have positive improvement in heart-health markers, which is directly linked to brain health. Several nutrients in nuts, like healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, help protect against free radical damage and slow mental decline. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, the main component of the brain matter.
Are these the only pieces that play into brain health? No, but it sure can’t hurt to help set yourself up for success in the future!