Your brain is a remarkable and complex organ that serves as the command center for every function of the body. To keep all systems running smoothly requires the correct nutrition. Keep reading to learn the best foods that improve brain function, memory, and concentration.
The brain handles vital functions including:
- And so much more!
Having a healthy brain helps every system in your body work efficiently and as it was designed.
When you think of health, you may generally think about making sure your body is getting enough sleep, eating right, and getting exercise. These are important activities that not only preserve your body’s health but the body’s command center too!
While you’re thinking about taking care of your physical health, make sure you add brain health to the mix because your brain needs good food for health and intelligence.
What you eat matters. This is especially when it comes to brain development and preventing diseases like dementia.
Foods that improve brain function are rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates. Take a look.
Antioxidant Foods Fight Free Radicals
Foods high in salt, fat, and sugar can cause our bodies to react in negative ways. Spiked increases in blood glucose and insulin can cause radicals which can be harmful to cells. These spikes can be caused by consuming salt, fat, and sugar too often or too much all at once.
Eating foods high in antioxidants can fight free radicals and stabilize the situation. Additionally, antioxidant foods slow down the aging process, prevent loss of vision, stroke, and heart disease. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods is good for your brain’s health and intelligence.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Aid in Learning and Memory
Omega 3 fatty acids play a key role in brain function. There are different types of Omega 3 fatty acids, and DHA, or docosahexaenoic, is a primary fatty acid found in the cell membranes of the brain. Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids help maximize the functions of the brain and fuel the brain in the best way possible.
Diets rich in carbohydrates and fiber are essential for brain health
Dementia and other cognitive decline seem to be on the rise. Eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber can help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s. Many fad diets include reducing or eliminating good sources of important carbohydrates and fiber.
Cutting out grains like oats, brown rice, and foods like sweet potatoes can actually create deficiencies that affect brain health. These complex carbohydrates are excellent sources of energy that your brain uses to keep peak function and health.
Your body needs healthy foods and exercise to stay fit. Eating right and exercising your muscles is evident by a slim, fit body free of illness and disease. In the same way, your brain depends on high-quality foods and mental exercise to keep fit.
When planning your menu for optimal physical health, be sure to incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates to help your brain achieve peak performance too.
The Brain Is the Most Important Organ
Eating right for brain health might be a new concept. Most people focus on foods that help them lose and maintain weight or give them peak performance physically. It may not occur to them to eat for their brain’s health too.
From birth till death, our brain handles nearly every function of the body. The brain tells the systems how and when to operate and the brain regulates how the systems carry out their duties. Of all the organs in the body, the brain has the biggest and most important job.
The Best Foods That Improve Brain Function, Memory, and Concentration Are:
- Complex Carbs
- Omega Fatty Acids
Finding foods from each category is pretty easy. Many whole foods you already love are already doing the trick.
Adding some new foods to your lineup could close any gaps and make sure you’re eating a wide variety of foods that optimize brain function.
Complex carbs give you longevity and energy. Eating complex carbs fuels your body and your brain.
Some of the best sources are:
- Brown rice
- Split peas
- Cruciferous veggies
Many of these foods provide the added benefit of healthy fiber that helps keep your gut and your digestive tract functioning well too.
Antioxidants combat oxidative stress to the brain. Free radicals are dangerous for brain health. Counteracting and reducing the impact of free radicals is easier with antioxidant-rich foods.
Some of the best sources of antioxidant foods are:
- Leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
The wonderful thing about antioxidant-rich foods is the wide variety within each category.
There are many types of berries, beans, and dark green leafy veggies to choose from. That makes it easy to choose foods that are rich in antioxidants without feeling bored.
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids taste great! We all know that high-fat foods tend to taste great. Foods that are higher in fat are satisfying and have a great mouthfeel which makes consuming them easier.
Try these foods to boost your brain health and your weekly menu:
- Fatty fish
- Flax and chia seeds
- Wild Rice
These fun foods add variety and flavor to your menu while also providing excellent health and nutrition for your brain.
It’s easy to create menus that include foods from each category- some foods even offer multiple benefits in one. Have fun choosing foods that you already love and try incorporating new foods into the mix.
Use Foods to Lower Your Risk for Dementia
Dementia is a term used to encompass illnesses and diseases that affect memory – the most common memory-related disease being Alzheimer’s. While dementia does affect memory, it also affects critical thinking, problem-solving, and language skills.
Dementia is caused by damage to our brain’s cells. When cells are damaged, they lose their ability to function as designed and stop communicating with one another. When this happens, the brain can’t function normally and thinking and feeling become impaired.
Age and genetics do play a role in the development of dementia, but there are things that can be done to offset the effects of age and family history. In the same way, healthy food choices, healthy exercise, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol can help your body stay fit and healthy, they can also help the brain stay fit and healthy and lower the risk for dementia.
Making wise food choices morning, noon, and night can help infuse your brain with the fuel and the antioxidants it needs to fight off diseases and thrive. Here are some wonderful meal ideas you can incorporate into your weekly meal planning that will help make your taste buds and your brain extra happy.
Mornings are an important time to feed your brain. Your brain has been working hard during the night to clear out the clutter from the previous day. Your brain uses your downtime to do specific things that refresh and prepare itself for a new day. Mornings are the perfect time to re-energize the mind and the body so they can tackle the physical and mental needs of the day.
Since whole grains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, a bowl of oatmeal is a perfect staple for your breakfast menu. Kick things up a notch by adding healthy flax seeds, and some walnuts to boost your omega 3 fatty acids. Finish things off with berries for an antioxidant boost.
Another grab-n-go option for breakfast is homemade breakfast bars. Combine oats, nuts, dried cherries, or other dried berries with some heart-healthy natural honey. You can find great recipes for breakfast bars on social media platforms like Pinterest.
After your feel-good breakfast, it’s time to launch your lunchtime routine. Eating well during midday makes it easier to avoid the afternoon slump that can often cause brain fog and sluggishness. Eating a well-thought-out noon meal can help keep your brain and your blood sugar happy.
Since fatty fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, create a healthy lunch beginning with a bed of spinach, layer a small salmon fillet, and add tomatoes and beans for a lunch packed with brain-fuel power. Include a handful of dried berries and nuts on the side and you’re certain to be mentally acute and focused all afternoon.
Dinnertime varies for everyone. Some love to eat heartily while others prefer a light supper before turning in for the night. Either way, your body, and your brain need a good dose of fuel to help you sleep well and rejuvenate. Make your meal count by choosing whole foods designed to heal and help your brain.
Brown or wild rice is an excellent option for a complex carbohydrate. Pair the rice with trout, mackerel, or another favorite fish. Add cruciferous veggies like red cabbage or broccoli. Season with your favorite toppings and you’re set.
Choosing great foods throughout your life can help stave off dementia and give your brain the best chance of staying healthy and vital well into your later years. You truly are what you eat and eating healthy foods for your brain will help you maintain your memory and cognitive skills.
Don’t Forget the Water – How Hydration Helps Your Brain
Eating foods that improve brain function is key to preventing dementia and help the brain stay healthy. While taking in great foods, it’s also important to wash those foods down with water. Water is a chief contributor to brain health. Water does more than hydrate, it makes the brain work right and provides an avenue for toxins to leave the brain.
Water is the vehicle the brain uses to deliver nutrients and remove toxins. That means water needs to be plentiful and consistently flowing to and from the brain. Your brain is technically about 75% water, when it is hydrated well the brain can focus, think better, and operate optimally.
Staying hydrated throughout the day helps the brain best. Finding ways to keep hydrated prevents slumps in thinking and energy.
Some typical ways to stay hydrated are:
- Keep reusable water bottles handy in the car and at work
- Use a water app to remind you to hydrate throughout the day
- Drink water with every meal and snack rather than soda or other beverages
- Make drinking water part of your morning and bedtime routines to get those extra glasses in
Everybody is different. The amount of water you need is determined by height, weight, level of activity, and other factors. You can also tell a lot about your hydration when you go to the bathroom. Urine should be light yellow and have no odor when you are hydrated.
Did you know? There’s such a thing as too much water? Drinking excessive amounts of water can actually cause harm including lowering blood pressure to dangerous levels. Make sure that your water intake is counterbalanced by consuming enough salt to avoid an electrolyte imbalance.
Some people don’t enjoy the taste of plain water. That’s ok, there are plenty of ways to enhance your water and make it more palatable.
Try one of these:
- Infuse your water with fruits or veggies to give them a hint of taste
- Try adding essential oils to your water to boost the flavor and add other benefits
- If you want bold flavor, consider adding a low-calorie flavoring packet to give your H2O a kick
If you have trouble drinking enough water in a day, try eating some! Foods with high water content can give you extra servings of water and fruits and veggies. Here are a few you can add to your list:
Water is just as important for your brain’s health as food. Drinking enough water or consuming foods with high water content will help keep the brain hydrated and healthy. Combining healthy foods with plenty of water is a one-two punch that knocks out brain diseases and keeps your mind sharp.
Exercise Your Brain After You’ve Eaten Healthy Foods
You’ve heard it time and time again…diet and exercise. Those are the bookends of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to physical health. Well, it’s exactly the same when it comes to brain health too.
Feeding your brain high-quality foods that improve brain function, prevent dementia, fight brain fog, and keep your mind focused is only half the equation. You’ve also got to exercise your brain regularly. Mental gymnastics is a thing and you’ve got to use your brain to keep it sharp and fit for the long haul.
Studies show that men who retire can suffer from mental decline within six months if they do not create enough stimulation for their minds. Finding new and clever ways to use the mind helps prevent declines in function. Additionally, staying mentally sharp can help prevent mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
Find Ways to Stay Curious
Life-long learning is important. Staying curious can help you develop your brain throughout your lifetime. There is no limit to the things you can learn. From reading to taking classes, to engaging in other experiences, keep learning to keep your brain healthy and sharp.
Find New Ways To Do Mathematics
Using math or other critical thinking skills helps keep the brain healthy. Simple tasks like counting back change or doing math longhand in your mind can help. Avoid the calculator when possible and don’t rely on automated systems to do the math.
Find New Ways to Solve Problems
Our brains are designed to solve complex problems. Putting things together is an excellent way to take bits and pieces and complete a project while engaging your mind. Working puzzles or playing healthy mind games can keep the mind working and growing too.
Find New Ways to Create
Being creative uses the brain in new ways. Creativity has no limits and allowing the brain to explore, create, and express itself helps it stay healthy. From painting to upcycling used items, there are endless ways to be creative. Find a form of creativity that sparks your interest and keeps your mind engaged.
Find New Ways to Express Yourself
Writing stories, poetry, or even fact-based content keeps the brain working. Keep yourself busy by reading, writing, and expanding your vocabulary. Studying or taking a class and writing essays or papers can be another way to express yourself and keep your brain challenged.
A healthy brain comes from a combo of diet and exercise. You may have thought your muscles needed a great workout, but your brain needs one too. Flex your brain and keep it healthy by finding new ways to challenge it and help it grow.
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The information presented here is in no way meant to serve as medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind, please consult with your physician.