Pop quiz – which vital organ consumes 20 percent of your daily caloric intake? Can think of the answer? Well, it’s all in your head – literally! Yes, despite weighing only 3 pounds, your brain takes in one-fifth of the calories that enter your body. Given this close relationship, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the foods you put into your body directly impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.
The Nutrients Your Brain Needs
The way is which food interacts with the brain is still not yet fully understood, as researchers have only recently begun to look at the issue. What medical researchers have uncovered is that four nutrients in particular – glucose, fatty acids, amino acids and antioxidants – seem to be essential for the brain to function at full capacity. Below is a quick guide as to how these substances are used by the brain.
Glucose – Glucose provides energy that powers the brain; without, your brain would simply cease to function. Think of glucose as gasoline for the mind.
Amino Acids – Within the brain are over 50 neurotransmitters, chemicals that allow the brain transmit crucial information throughout the body. How important is this information? Put it this way – neurotransmitters, among other things, tell your heart to beat and stomach to digest food.
Of course, these neurotransmitters don’t last forever, and the brain needs to manufacture new ones on a regular basis. Enter amino acids, which provide the building materials needed for the construction of new neurotransmitters.
Antioxidants – Your brain cells have a tough job, which is only made more difficult by the presence of free radicals. Simply put, free radicals are unstable molecules within the body that attempt to attach themselves to cells throughout the body. There wouldn’t be anything bad about this, except that by doing this the free radical winds up destroying the cell.
If free radicals are able to destroy enough cells, the body often suffers from tissue damage, aging and various diseases. They can also greatly diminish your memory. Antioxidants work to track down and eliminate these free radicals before they can damage healthy cells. This makes them extremely valuable to cells inside your body, including those in the brain.
Fatty Acids – To transmit information, the brain’s nerve cells must send messages across tiny spaces between each other, known as synapses. Fatty acids can help strengthen the synapses related to memory, allowing the nerve cells involved to send messages more effectively.
Memory Boosting Foods
Go Fish! – Recent studies have found that adult brains can produce new brain cells, thereby preserving your brain’s memory capacity. They cannot accomplish this task, however, if they do not receive sufficient amounts of healthy fats. Fortunately for grocery shoppers, foods with cell-building fats are difficult to find. Simply head to the part of the grocery store where fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna are sold.
Eat Your Veggies – Specially, the dark leafy green kind of vegetables. True, they may have their detractors, but foods such as kale, collard greens, spinach and broccoli are loaded with free radical-killing antioxidants. As an additional bonus, dark leafy greens can help protect the body against cancer and heart disease.
Ever try an Avocado? – If you can’t bring yourself to eat dark leafy greens, don’t worry. You can find a more-than-adequate substitute in the form of avocadoes, a pear-shaped fruit native to central Mexico. Avocadoes are brimming with notable antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E; eating a single avocado nourishes the body with 21% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin E, and 33% DV of vitamin C.
Another Reason to Eat Peanut Butter – Wouldn’t it be great to find a food with both antioxidants and healthy fats? Well, such foods do exist, and one of them is actually quite well-known – peanut butter. By logical extension, peanuts also feature the same nutrients. A good indicator of peanut butter’s impact on your health is its supply of vitamin E, as just 100 grams provides you with up to 45% DV of this vitamin.
Give Berries A Chance – In addition to running the daily operations of your entire body, your brain also has a way of ridding itself of hostile chemicals. Known as the “housekeeping” mechanism, this process effectively purges toxins that could damage the brain’s ability to recall information. A 2010 study found that eating strawberries, blueberries and raspberries can protect the “housekeeping” mechanism from the ravages of age. It bears mentioning that strawberries, raspberries and blueberries all contain large amounts of vitamin C.
Pick Up Some Whole Grains – Whole grains provide the human body with an almost unlimited number of benefits, with studies linking them to lower rates of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. In addition to safeguarding your cardiovascular and digestive systems, whole grain foods may also help keep your mind sharp. A 2006 study found that diets featuring whole grains (along with fruits, veggies and healthy fats) could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As with healthy fats, whole grains are easy to spot. Your local supermarket should have plenty of whole grain breads, pastas and cereals for you to choose from.
Enjoy a Glass of Red Wine – Red wine has been a popular drink for millennia, with people lauding the drink for its distinct taste (and also for its alcoholic content). But red wine doesn’t satisfy your taste buds; according to a study conducted by the New York City-based Mount Sinai School of Medicine, it can also help you preserve your memory. The school’s research team found that an antioxidant in red wine, known as polyphenols, could help the body ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The proceeding article was written by an employee of Natural Knowledge 24/7.