Most people are familiar with the anti-aging benefits of certain foods, supplements, and toiletries. But have you ever thought about how this concept could be applied to your brain.
Although choosing the right foods for your brain can seem like a difficult lifestyle change, it is actually quite simple to include brain-healthy snacks in your daily diet.
There are a variety of foods known for their brain-boosting properties that can help to slow down the aging process and ensure your brain stays active and healthy well into old age.
Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables can provide plenty of antioxidants for your body to prevent neurological damage. Vegetables in particular can help prevent inflammation and improve circulation, ensuring your brain experiences a healthy blood flow.
Carrots contain high levels of luteolin, which is a flavonoid that reduces inflammation that has been linked to a decline in cognitive performance.
In 2010, the Journal of Nutrition published a study conducted on mice in order to discover the effects of luteolin on the brain. It was found that the mice showed an improvement in spatial memory after luteolin had been added to their diet.
Other healthy foods known to improve memory include celery, bell peppers, rosemary and thyme, which are also rich in luteolin.
Beets are rich in naturally occurring nitrates that can be beneficial for the brain, unlike artificial nitrates found in processed foods. In 2011, a study published in the Nitric Oxide journal showed that adults who ate a high-quality diet rich in nitrates had a higher blood flow to the brain’s frontal region. Poor blood flow to the frontal brain lobe is often associated with cognitive decline or dementia.
The nitric oxide compound may be able to help keep blood vessels flexible and increase blood flow. Natural nitrates can also be found in cabbages and radishes, which is another benefit for people who want to feed their brains.
Asparagus is a healthy source of folate, which works in combination with the vitamin B12, which is found in fish, meat and poultry, in order to prevent impairment of the brain’s cognitive ability. A study by researchers at Tufts University, adults with higher levels of folate and vitamin B12 showed better performance results during tests of speed and mental flexibility.
It is recommended that those over fifty years old ensure they are getting enough vitamin B12 in their diet, as the ability to absorb it declines with age. Another good source of folate is a serving of leafy greens, which have a variety of antioxidant properties of their own.
Although there are many jokes about the elderly eating prunes, it may actually be a good thing. Dried prunes are rich in fiber, vitamins A, C, and potassium. They also contain plenty of antioxidants that can help prevent cell oxidation and prevent free radicals. These health benefits are essential for maintaining a healthy brain, so dried prunes make a great brain-boosting snack.
Dried prunes can also help to lower your body’s glucose consumption, which will help you keep your blood sugar in check.
While oil may be associated with unhealthy foods, olive oil is actually full of the ‘healthy fat’, mono-unsaturated fatty acid (also listed as its abbreviation, MUFA). It also contains a good level of antioxidants, including Vitamin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds, all of which are essential in slowing down the process of aging and disease prevention.
Chocolate doesn’t always have to be an unhealthy choice. Dark chocolate is a further source of mono-unsaturated fatty acid, as well as flavanol antioxidants which promote a healthy circulation and reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Nuts are also a good choice of snack if you’re looking to benefit your brain. Not only are they yet another source of MUFAs and antioxidants, they are also packed with nutrients and minerals that can aid weight loss and have efficient health benefits of their own. Plus, nuts have been proven to keep you fuller for longer, preventing you from snacking on unhealthy convenience foods.
Keep it Active
When you hear your brain being referred to as active, you may find images of math problems or crosswords come to mind, however, the key to a healthy, active brain lies within aerobic exercise.
Researchers at the the University of Illinois have proven that fitter people are likely to have sharper cognitive skills, whilst people who were previously out of shape and began to tone up their bodies also noticed an improvement in their mental abilities as their body improved.
Not only can working out make you smarter, it’s also important for preventing heart disease, diabetes, obesity and general illness, so there’s no reason not to dedicate some time to keeping fit.
Read also: Can your sleep position save your brain?
Speed Up the Process
Speeding up your thought process can help to slow down the brain’s aging process, which believe it or not, actually starts to begin around the age of thirty!
According to Michael Merzenich, PHD, a neuroscientist of the University of California, SF, any person of any age can retrain their brain to think quicker, in effect, making it function as a younger brain. All it takes is a little dedication. There are computer games and training exercises available for computers, games consoles and even smartphones that are designed to work on improving the brain’s speed, focus and accuracy over time. The exercises may seem simple, but through constant practice, users will develop stronger mental abilities.