Food for healthy brain

Food for memory
Last Updated 24 May 2013, 12:51 IST

We have all tried dieting to get a better body figure or lose weight; we need to diet to keep our mind sharp too, advises Dr Vipul Gupta.

Healthy eating habits are a key to health body. And in healthy body lives the healthy and young mind. However, we become conscious of eating healthy only when it comes out of the doctor’s prescription. It is well known that our body and brain age as we grow chronologically. However, we can maintain the chances of keeping our brain and body young if we add healthy food or what we call ‘superfoods’ in the daily eating regime.

 While we often blame memory lapses on aging, poor memory can be improved by nutrition and supplement. A sharp memory depends on your total number of brain cells, the smooth flow of communication between the cells and the health of cells. Instead of binging on chips and junk food while in office, consider including these smart foods on your platter which can secretly keep your brain healthy and young.
To maintain a sharp and young mind inside your aging body, consider including these supper smart foods in your daily diet plan:

Blueberries to prevent brain cell break down

Berries are busting with antioxidants called anthocyanins which help prevent the breakdown of brain cells. Blueberries in particular have received a lot of attention because they can enhance spatial memory and learning. Eating four cups of berries per week is recommended for a sharper brain. Even if berries aren't in season, frozen ones are just as nutritious. Add some berries to your morning smoothie or bake them into your pancakes. Most berries, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and others, full of antioxidants that are great for boosting the brain. You can help reverse the effects of aging on the brain by eating these berries.

A 2012 Harvard study found women who eat at least one cup of blueberries and strawberries per week experienced a 2.5 year delay in mental decline compared to women who rarely ate berries!

Fish to maintain brain cell health

When it comes to food and memory, fish should be the star of the show. Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel contain generous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for maintaining the health of brain cells. It is recommended to eat a four-ounce portion (slightly larger than the palm of your hand) of a fatty fish at least three times a week. Omega-3s will coat the neurons with good fat, allowing them to move easily throughout the brain. Omega-3s also provides more oxygen to the brain, as well as allows one to retain new information while still remembering old information.

Lean protein to improve cognitive skills

Chicken and turkey breast, eggs and low-fat milk are excellent sources of important proteins that maintain cognitive skills. When we get older, our brains begin to shrink due to brain atrophy. While some of us might want other parts of our body to shrink, I’m pretty sure no one wants a shrinking brain.
However, we can fight against this natural process by eating eggs. This is because eggs are full of vitamin B12 as well as lecithin. Vitamin B12 helps to fight against brain shrinkage, which is often seen in Alzheimer’s disease. While eating too many eggs can be bad for your health, eating 1-2 egg products a day can be great brain food.

Walnuts to improve memory score

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that walnut consumption was associated with better memory scores and cognitive function. Walnuts are also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid -- a plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acids. Sprinkle some walnuts on your salad or yogurt or mix chopped walnuts with pancake batter.

Coffee and tea to sharpen focus

Caffeine can temporarily sharpen your focus and memory. While a couple cups of coffee or tea (green tea) are okay to drink during the day, avoid caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime so it doesn't interfere with your sleep. Quality sleep is a critical component to a sharp mind.

Whole grains for your brains

Whole grains are also a great food for your brain. Whole wheat, bran, and wheat germ have high contents of folate, as do brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain breads, barley, and others. All of these foods work to increase blood flow to the brain which means a higher quality and quantity of brain function. Also, these whole grain foods contain a lot of vitamin B6, which is full of thiamine. Thiamine is great for anyone trying to improve their memory. Scientific research has shown that memory loss dramatically increases by the time you reach your late 60’s or early 70’s; so whole grains are especially good for you as you get older.

Curry to spice up your brain health

This spicy food is a great way to spice up your brain and keep it fresh. A main ingredient in curry powder, curcumin is full of antioxidants that help fight against brain aging and maintain cognitive function as you get older.

These antioxidants also fight against free radical damage that can occur within the brain as well as the body.  Free radicals can cause inflammation and other ailments within the body. Not only is curry good for your brain, it also can fight against diabetes and heart disease. You don’t have to have curry for lunch and dinner each day; the smallest amount of curry once a month can be highly beneficial for your brain.
Nuts and seeds

Looking for a snack food that has everything good for the brain in it? Then look no further than nuts and seeds… The good thing about this is that all types of nuts are included. This means peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and any other type of nut or seed you can think of, are good for your brain. Nuts and seeds are full of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as folate, vitamin E, and vitamin B6. All of these nutrients allow you to think more clearly. They also help you think more positively, because Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids work as natural antidepressants. Some seeds and nuts are also full of thiamine and magnesium, which are great for memory, cognitive function, and brain nourishment.

Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, and others, while not very well-liked by children, are excellent for the brain of children and adults alike. These vegetables help greatly when it is time to remember old information and process it as if you just learned it yesterday.

 This is because these foods are often full of vitamin B6, B12, and folate, which are great compounds needed within the brain to break down homocystein levels, which can lead to forgetfulness and even Alzheimer’s disease. These vegetables are often very high in iron content. If there is not enough iron intake, cognitive activity slows down greatly.

So when mom always urged you to eat your spinach, now you know why: veggies are good food for your brain.

(Published 24 May 2013, 12:51 IST)

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