As we age, our bodies begin to wear out if we don’t practice preventative maintenance. This can also affect our brains and can lead to cognitive decline and early dementia. Have you ever suffered from forgetfulness? Maybe it’s time you considered including some “brain foods” in your diet.
The brain is an extremely complicated organ which requires a continual supply of nutrients and energy to be fully functional. The brain completely relies upon your diet to provide the essential nutrients and energy required for the huge cellular demand. Here are some foods that I recommend to consume to ensure optimum brain function:
Oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring provide large amounts of the essential omega-3 fats necessary to improve blood flow through arteries of the brain. The omega-3 fats prevent blood clots, control inflammation levels, and improve the function of the inner artery linings inside the brain. Omega-3 fats also improve insulin sensitivity inside the brain which is crucial given the fact that blood glucose is the major source of cellular energy to the sensitive brain cells. The addition of these fats to your diet can also help to improve cognitive function as you age.
I recommend consuming three to four servings of oily fish per week.
Whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oatmeal are complex carbohydrates and provide a slow but continual source of energy for your brain. Consuming whole grains also keeps the blood sugar lower and insulin secretion at a minimum which prevents insulin resistance, inflammation, and damage to the arteries inside your brain.
I recommend that you consume at least one to two servings of whole grains on a daily basis.
Legumes are a type of food group which is composed of beans and peas. Legumes contain both complex carbohydrates and protein, but they also contain chemicals known as lignans which have antioxidant capability inside the brain. Like whole grains, legumes keep blood sugar levels stable and insulin secretion low thus preventing insulin resistance and the damaging associated inflammation. Legumes also provide the brain with a constant supply of complex carbohydrates to fulfill its energy requirements.
I recommend that you consume two to three servings of legumes every week.
Extra virgin olive oil contains the omega-9 family of fat which can lower inflammation, decrease blood clotting inside the arteries, lower blood pressure and cholesterol. The regular intake of olive oil has been associated with lower risks of vascular disease involving the heart and brain.
Try to consume at least one to two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on a daily basis.
This fruit contains a high concentration of antioxidant chemicals which can decrease free radical damage to sensitive brain neurons and decrease any inflammation inside of the brain arteries. Previous research has indicated that in older individuals suffering from various forms of cognitive impairment, the intake of pomegranate juice has improved brain cognitive function.
Consuming pomegranate fruit and the juice daily can help your brain cells function at a higher level.
Simopoulos, A.P., “Dietary omega-3 Fatty Acid deficiency and high fructose intake in the development of metabolic syndrome, brain metabolic abnormalities, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Nutrients. July 26, 2013; 5(8): 2901-23.
Agrawal, R., et al., “Metabolic syndrome’ in the brain: deficiency in omega-3 fatty acid exacerbates dysfunctions in insulin receptor signalling and cognition,” J Physiol. May 1, 2012; 590(Pt 10): 2,485-99.
Witte, A.V., et al., “Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Brain Function and Structure in Older Adults” Cereb Cortex. June 24, 2013.
Bookheimer, S.Y., et al., “Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints,” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013; 2013: 946298.