Added October 29, 2014 in General
When you do not consume enough nutrients, your brain will not perform optimally. A nutrient-rich diet is important for cognitive functioning, as well as optimal brain health. You can make simple changes to your diet, improving brain health.
Nutrition and Memory
It has been found that various nutrients improve memory. When you consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you’re consuming vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. All of these help improve memory. It is believed that the more produce you consume, the better your memory will be.
Folic acid (which is a B vitamin), is found in a wide range of produce items. Some of these items include spinach, broccoli, beets, peas, and more. It is known to play a significant role in memory and brain health.
Additionally, it’s important to consume high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fishes, flax seeds, and more. These have been directly linked to improved memory as an individual ages. When individuals eat fish or take supplements often, they’re more likely to experience slower cognitive decline.
In order to stay alert and focused, your brain needs energy. A steady supply of glucose is needed in order to stay alert, while improving concentration levels. Not only do you need to maintain a supply of glucose, but you need certain minerals to metabolize glucose. Some of these minerals include iron, manganese, and magnesium.
When you’re deficient in iron, you can actually prevent enough oxygen from reaching your brain. This creates fatigue and low levels of mental focus. You can find iron in both animal and plant-based products, however animal-based iron is best utilized by the body. You can find iron in chicken, oysters, beef liver, and more.
Although these are great sources of iron, you need to limit the amount of red-meat you’re consuming. Eat a balance, consuming plant-based sources that are rich in iron, as well as other nutrients. Spinach is a great example, providing your body and brain with numerous benefits.
Strokes can create numerous negative effects. Not only can individuals lose cognitive functioning, they can lose mobility or even their life. When you eat properly, you ensure that a proper supply of blood is reaching the brain. This helps lower the risk of stroke.
If your arteries are blocked for example, oxygen and nutrients may not reach your brain. This is due to a blockage within the bloodstream. When this occurs, brain cells can be severely damaged. This is why you should consume a heart-healthy diet, reducing your risk of stroke.
Heart health and brain health are not independent of one another. You need to care for both, ensuring the proper consumption of nutrients. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fish. You should also limit your consumption of red meat.
What Does Your Brain Need?
Our brains are composed of approximately 100 billion brain cells, which are called ‘neurons,’ Neurons drive our ability to think, learn, feel, and so much more. They need good fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. When neurons have access to these nutrients, one’s ability to learn is increased.
Our brain is approximately 60% fat, this fat helps maintain flexible membranes. When our brain membranes are more flexible, they’re able to transmit information more effectively. Fat also provides the brain with energy, as B-vitamins are transformed into ATP. The best fats to consume are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
You need to stay away from saturated and trans fat. This is for both your heart and brain health (remember, they’re related). These types of fats actually displace good fats. When this occurs, membranes become more stiff. This negatively affects communication throughout the brain.
Protein is essential regarding amino acids, which are essentially the building blocks of life. The amino acid tryptophan for example, is used to synthesize serotonin. This is found in many food items, especially turkey. Tyrosine is another amino acid, which can be found in bananas, avocados, almonds, meat, and more. This amino acid is linked to dopamine production.
You need to choose the best options. Take nuts for example. They’re an excellent source of protein and fat, however they can be healthy or unhealthy. Raw walnuts are a great source of nutrients and protein, whereas roasted, salted peanuts are not.
Carbs are a direct energy source for the brain, as glucose is the main source. When you consume too much sugar, you can experience headaches, lack of energy, and lack of concentration. This is due to your blood sugar fluctuating, as insulin levels increase in the bloodstream.
You need to consume more complex carbohydrates. This includes whole grains, rather than refined, processed sugars. When you consume whole grains, you experience a stable source of energy. You also gain fiber, B-vitamins, and other nutrients.
Micronutrients are essential for brain health. Some of the key nutrients are found within the B-vitamin family. They help manufacture neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA. Zinc is a mineral which is also linked to GABA and serotonin production. It is essential regarding learning, as it’s used for the growth of dendrites. It is also essential for memory, both short and long-term. Zinc can be found in seeds, nut, and red meat.
Drinking enough water is crucial for optimal brain function and health. It not only enhances circulation, but helps remove both toxins and waste. If your brain overheats, this can create a decline in cognitive functioning. Water helps regulate this potential issue.
Once you experience thirst, you’re already dehydrated. Once you become dehydrated and feel thirsty, you have already experienced a 10% decline regarding cognition. This will lead to dizziness, poor concentration, fatigue, and reduced cognitive abilities.
Make sure you’re consuming at least eight glasses of water a day. If you’re physically active, this amount should be increased to compensate for sweat and water loss.