Brain Food: How to unlock your brain’s potential

Eating a nutritious and balanced diet is not only good forour physical health but also our mental health. But which foods areparticularly beneficial to our cognitive function?

Whilst there is no single ‘super brain food’  to keep us sharp as a tack as we age, thereare certain foods rich in beneficial components such as omega-3 fatty acids, Bvitamins and antioxidants which have long been linked to support brain healthand therefore often referred to as ‘brain foods’.

When people think of brain food fatty fish is often thefirst to come to mind.

Fatty fish are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids – an essential fatty acid that must be obtained through the diet. Omega-3 fats are part of the polyunsaturated fat family and are not only important for healthy brain function but also in the prevention of heart disease and stroke and may help control eczema and rheumatoid arthritis as well as play protective roles in cancer.

There are three main omega-3 fats including:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) & Docosahexaenoicacid (DHA), often referred to as marine omega-3s as they are commonly found infatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel – aim to include inyour diet twice per week
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is your plant-basedomega-3, found in vegetable oils including canola as well as ground flaxseedsand flaxseed oil, walnuts, hemp an chia seeds

If you’re not a fish fan you can obtain your EPA and DHAthrough microalgae supplement however it is always best to check with yourdoctor if this is the right option for you.

Coffee lovers rejoice! You’ll be glad to know that caffeinealso made the cut. The caffeine in coffee has a number of positive effects onthe brain including:

  • increasing your awareness, improving mood aswell as concentration.

Don’t be fooled into thinking more is better though, studieshave found that one double shot coffee in the morning is sufficient.

Blueberries and other berries such as blackberries contain aprotective compound called anthocyanins – promoting anti-inflammatory andantioxidant affects – which have shown to improve short-term memory loss.

Low GI wholegrain cereals, grainy bread, rice and pastaprovide a slow release of glucose (the body and brains main fuel source) slowlyinto the bloodstream to the brain thereby providing a rich energy source.Eating low GI wholegrains across the day will aid in concentration and focusfor longer throughout the day than white based breads and cereals.

Turmeric is a yellow spice commonly used in curry powder. The active ingredient curcumin is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound associated with improving memory, reducing depression and aiding in new brain cell growth.

Broccoli is full of beneficial plant compounds includingantioxidants and vitamin K which has been linked to enhancing cognitivefunction and protecting against brain damage.

Incorporating a variety of these foods regularly into ahealthy diet can improve your brain health and as such can translate intobetter mental function. In additional to what we eat, regular daily exercisecan also keep our brain sharp by improving cognitive function, slowing down themental aging process as well as helping us process information moreeffectively.

Making yourself a priority and ensuring you are getting avaried nutritious diet, fitting in time for movement and exercise, reducingstress and improving sleep are all steps we can make to improve our mentalhealth and capacity.

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