Certain foods can increase your brain power and can keep you living healthier and longer. And since the brain is a hungry organ in the sense that it is metabolically active, we need to feed it with the right foods for optimal performance. Here are 4 tips for an intelligent diet.
Our brains are about 80 percent water, so the first rule of brain nutrition is adequate water intake to hydrate your brain. Even slight dehydration can raise stress hormones, which in turn can damage your brain over time. Also, water makes up 83% of human blood and acts as a transport system, delivering nutrients to the brain and eliminating toxins. Water is essential for concentration and mental alertness.
A number of studies have shown that dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables significantly reduce the risk of developing cognitive impairment (Zandi, P. et al., Arch Neurol 2004; 61:82-88). Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. In normal amounts free radicals work to rid the body of harmful toxins, thereby keeping it healthy. When produced in toxic amounts, free radicals damage the body’s cellular machinery, resulting in cell death and tissue damage. The US Department of Agriculture suggest the following fruits and vegetables: blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, raspberries, Brussel sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries and kiwis. Also, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Beta Carotene inhibit the production of free radicals.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
DHA, one form of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, makes up a large portion of the gray matter of the brain. The fat in your brain forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how our cells function. Neurons are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Research in the last few years has revealed that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood in later years (Parker, G. et al., 2006), possibly because DHA is a main component of the brain’s synapses. Lack of omega-3 fats in your diet can lead to depression, poor memory, low IQ, learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADD and many more mental disorders (National Institute of Health Conference (1998): « Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids & Psychiatric Disorders »). Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, sardines, herring, and walnuts.
Proteins are essential to make neurotransmitters, which are vital for the thinking process. Further, protein provides the building blocks for most of the body’s tissues, nerves, and internal organs (including brain and heart). Protein is found in meat, fish, milk and cheese. Try to eat a protein-based lunch to optimize your mental performance and alertness throughout the day.