Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain. You probably already know that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, “healthy” fats (such as olive oil, nuts), fish and lean protein will provide lots of health benefits. But such a diet can also improve memory.
These are a few specific healthy foods that can help boost your brainpower and even reduce your risk of dementia.
1. Gotu Kola (Pegaga)
Being used for many conditions for thousands of years in Asia, Gotu Kola improves mental clarity and is also good for the skin. Being a rejuvenative nervine, it calms down the nervous system, reduces anxiety and at the same time is also thought to enhance memory. It is excellent to use for repairing skin and strengthening connective tissue and therefore, is sometimes also used as an anti-aging herb. You can drink it as a tea or eat it raw, in a salad.
2. Green Tea
Green tea contains polyphenols — powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells. Amongst many other benefits, regular consumption of green tea may enhance memory, mental alertness and slow brain ageing.
A spice usually used in curry, turmeric contains the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant curcumin. Curcumin is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and potentially stimulate the growth of nerve cells in brain — one of the reasons why it holds promise as a neuroprotective agent in a wide range of neurological disorders. Research has actually shown that it may help to prevent Alzheimer. Not only is turmeric good for your brain, it is also very warming, improves blood circulation, and can help to fight against diabetes and heart disease.
4. Dark Chocolate
Too much chocolate can make you sick because of its high sugar and fat content, however, if you are having quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, (at least 70% cocoa), then it is actually quite nutritious. Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants, improves blood flow and some studies have actually shown that it may also improve concentration and the focus of our brain. Furthermore, it stimulates the production of endorphins in our body making it a “feel good food” at the same time.
5. Brown Rice
Carbohydrates keep your brain going, but the type of carbs you choose make all the difference. Carbs will break down into glucose which our brain needs to function. However as our brains can’t store glucose, there needs to be a regular and consistent supply of it to function properly.
Brown rice is a low-glycaemic complex carbohydrate which means it will slowly release glucose for energy. This will provide the brain with a gradual supply of glucose, which then helps retain the brain functioning sharply. While sugar or white rice will give you an instant boost, as the glucose level shoots up after consumption it will also quickly lead to a crash and give you a foggy brain.
The same shape as the human brain, walnuts are the ultimate brain food for many reasons. Firstly, walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acid (the highest among the nuts) — a key nutrient in maintaining healthy brain function. Walnuts also contain a number of other neuroprotective compounds such as vitamin E, melatonin and antioxidants. Consumption of walnuts can also reduce oxidative stress to the brain and enhance cognitive function.
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which have been found to boost cognitive performance in older adults suffering from memory disorder. Coconut oil contains saturated fat, but the majority of the fats are MCTs. The way our body metabolises MCTs is completely different from how it metabolises normal fat content. The MCTs which coconut oil is rich in breaks down into ketones, which can be used by the brain cells for fuel.