Best and Worst Foods for Brain Health from Best and Worst Foods for Brain Health

Best and Worst Foods for Brain Health

Thinkstock

Best and Worst Foods for Brain Health

Thinkstock

The activity of every organ in the body begins to diminish after a certain age. Just as is the case with looking younger by taking care of their skin, people can significantly increase their chances of maintaining a healthy brain. “You are what you eat” has never been more true. Your diet has many invisible effects such as thyroid problems, chronic heart conditions, diminished athletic abilities and persistent fatigue. Brainpower is not inherited or given; it’s achieved at the supermarket and in your kitchen.

Chamomile and green tea

Thinkstock

Research has shown that luteolin in chamomile tea improves cognitive functioning when you’re awake. Loss of memory was reversed in older mice fed with a luteolin-rich diet. A separate study found that people who drank green tea before a cognitive functioning test performed significantly better than those who drank a placebo. Higher consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of cognitive impairment.

Blueberries

Thinkstock

A cruel disease blueberries can help against is Alzheimer’s. A 2010 study found that people with memory problems due to their age, who drank 2.5 cups of blueberry juice a day, made significant improvement in memory and learning. Berries are some of the most concentrated sources of powerful antioxidants on the planet. They can protect the brain from oxidation and change the way neurons in the brain communicate with each other, leading to less inflammation.

Tomatoes

Shutterstock

Lycopene is a natural carotenoid found in tomato that has been reported to possess various health benefits. Recent data suggest that lycopene also exhibits anti-inflammatory activity through induction of programmed cell death in activated immune cells. Carotenoids improve cognition and memory over longer periods of time. Keep in mind that cooked tomatoes have even more lycopene than raw ones.

Salmon and anything rich in omega-3s

Thinkstock

Salmon is associated with heart healthy and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Because essential fatty acids provided by these foods are so critical for proper neurological function, consumption of fish several times a week is associated with preserved neurological function and less depression and dementia, according to research.

Whole grains

Shutterstock

Whole grains are necessary for obtaining many important vitamins, minerals and fiber. Adequate intake of fiber is critical for the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome, a symbiotic organ that is in constant communication and modulation of the other organ systems such as cardiovascular and neurological. Better heart health means better blood flow, including to the brain. Also, a recent study suggests that eating whole grains will help you live longer.

Almonds

Shutterstock

Almonds have a lot of vitamin E, an important antioxidant that protects cells from damage associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which increases with age. Many studies clearly associate high levels of vitamin E with improved cognitive performance and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Beans

Thinkstock

Beans are great to keep your blood sugar in check, which is crucial for the brain. Beans also have a lot of magnesium, which is needed for more than 300 functions in the body. High dietary intake of magnesium has been linked to a lower risk of dementia while some Alzheimer’s patients have low blood and brain levels of magnesium, according to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. The mineral speeds the transmission of messages in the brain and relaxes blood vessels.

Small amounts of caffeine

Pixabay

Caffeine is one of the most dangerous legal drugs, unless taken in small amounts. Little caffeine stimulates the brain and blocks receptors for a chemical called adenosine. The result of this one-two punch is an increase in energy and mental performance. Regular consumption of moderate amounts of coffee is associated with a lower rate of age-related mental decline and improved cognitive function.

Dark chocolate

Thinkstock

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are some of the most potent antioxidants found in nature. Benefits include a boost in memory, attention span, reaction time, concentration and problem-solving skills. It also increases blood flow to the brain. Regular consumption of moderate amounts of chocolate is also associated with less weight gain and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s type dementia, according to research.

Vitamin D-rich foods

Shutterstock

Vitamin D deficiency among the elderly is highly correlated with accelerated cognitive decline and impaired performance, particularly in domains such as memory loss that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to new research. The effect is “substantial,” with individuals with low vitamin D declining at a rate three times faster than those with adequate vitamin D levels. Surprising sources of Vitamin D include eggs, salmon and mushrooms.

Trans fats

Shutterstock

Trans fats are unnatural fats usually found in fried and processed foods. They decrease brainpower and zap memory. Trans fat can cause cellular destruction, wreak havoc on hormone production, adversely affect memory and increase inflammation in the brain. This inhibits the body’s production of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential to brain function, according to Psychology Today.

Saturated fats

Shutterstock

A diet high in saturated fat can lead to cognitive function impairment, specifically by dulling the dopamine reward system while increasing the dependency on unhealthy foods, according to a recent study. This system is a critical brain pathway controlling motivation. Independent of weight gain and obesity, consuming too much saturated fat can cause impairments profoundly implicated in mood disorders, drug addiction, and overeating.

Refined sugar and fructose

Shutterstock

Refined sugar is linked to obesity and diabetes, which have been named risk factors for cognitive impairment, especially dementia, according to research. Another study found a connection between diets containing a lot of high fructose corn syrup and reduced performance in the hippocampus, which is helps form memories and regulate emotions. 

All kinds of soda

Shutterstock

Researchers had said that consuming as little as one diet soda a day could increase your risk of stroke by 48 percent. Aspartame-sweetened soft drinks have been linked to seizures. This synthetic chemical can evade the blood-brain barrier, allowing the chemicals to directly alter the brain’s neurological function. It is believed that aspartame can raise the levels of phenylalanine in the brain, reducing the production and flow of the neurotransmitters that protect against seizures.

Too much tuna

Thinkstock

Eating more than 12-14 ounces of tuna per week is not recommended. The problem is that it is high in mercury. Mercury is a metal that can have adverse effects on the nervous system and brain function, especially for pregnant women. Mercury toxicity can cause kidney damage, respiratory failure, and even death.

Soy

Thinkstock

The problem is the high concentration of salt in soy sauce. A study from 2010 suggested that too much sodium affects your cognitive function. Specifically, elders in the low sodium intake group displayed better cognitive performance over time. Too much of a soy product can actually prevent iron absorption which can lead to anemia. Also, soy products contain estrogen-like compounds that can lead to uterine cancer if consumed in excess.

Steak and other fatty meats

Thinkstock

Researchers have linked diets high in glycotoxins (AGEs)to age-related dementia and obesity and diabetes in both humans and mice. A key factor in the formation of food-derived glycotoxins is temperature. Foods high in protein and fat (such as animal products like beef, pork and lamb) as well as foods high in fructose that are cooked, heated, or processed at high temperatures are loaded with glycotoxins.

Baked cookies

Thinkstock

Baked goods are foods that some cardiologists would never eat. They are high in calories, fat and sugar. Make them at home because then you’re more likely to use less sugar and butter instead of hydrogenated oil, which is very bad for you. It can slow the micro circulation of blood through the brain further causing various emotional and physical ailments such an Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ADHD and muddled thinking.