It is said that we only use about ten-percent of our brainpower and that the other ninety-percent is just waiting to be unlocked. Some believe that it is possible to ‘workout’ the brain by doing exercises that will keep it in optimal shape, possibly even expanding its capability. These are theories of course being that the brain is still a mystery to scientists and doctors alike. There is, however, another way we can boost brainpower and that is simply through diet.
Certain foods and also herbs, which are technically foods, can contribute in aiding or creating such brain enhancing attributes as increased blood flow, memory enhancement, release of ‘feel good’ enzymes and speed synapse firing. The can also strengthen the interior as well as exterior brain tissue.
1. Fish, Flaxseed and Walnuts
Omega-3 fatty acids which enhance all around brain function and can possibly stave off Alzheimer’s disease are found abundantly in oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts. Fish contain the extra ingredient iodine which is an excellent addition to omega-3 as it enhances mental clarity. Flaxseed can be found as the whole seed sprinkled on cereal or in salads, as an oil or in oil filled capsules. Walnuts are fun to crack and eat, however, sometimes you can find walnut butter for sandwiches.
2. Whole Grains
Everyone seems to be afraid of potential fat enhancing carbohydrates, however, eaten in moderation whole grains will keep the pounds at bay and the brain healthy. Look for grains such as wheat and brown rice. These contain folic acid (also excellent for a developing fetus), B-12 and B-6, all essential in maintaining immediate as well as past memory recall.
Always a treat for most people because, well, it makes them feel better than any other candy. This is because chocolate is linked to the release of dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals are mainly responsible for mood and pain reduction.
In moderation, eggs help increase selenium which effects mood. They also contain choline, a nutrient capable of increasing neuron size enhancing their firing capability, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that improve eye health.
Monounsaturated fats improve blood flow to the brain and avocados are abundant with this.
6. Berries – Especially Blue
Berries contain certain antioxidants that enhance coordination, cognition and memory. Blueberries are especially excellent brain food due to their capabilty of strengthening neuron signals. Some theories suggest that berries help with brain stress that can lead to dementia and Alzheimers. Blueberries also score low on the glycemic index, making them safe for diabetics.
7. Dark Green Leafy Veggies
Kale, romain, arugula, chard, spinach and broccoli are some of the choices high in iron, B-6, and folate which help produce tryptophan, which in turn helps release the mood enhancing brain chemical called serotonin.
8. Olive Oil
Organic virgin olive oil is high in healthy fat that contributes to balancing mood, memory and focus.
Bad Brain Choices
- Refined Sugars – such as sweet fruit drinks, soda and sweets
- Nicotine – constricts brain blood flow and depletes it of oxygen
- Alcohol- beyond an occasional glass of red wine which contains the brain boosting chemical resveratrol, alcohol decreases dopamine levels which can cause depression and mood swings.