Food provides the essential connections for a healthy brain that functions optimally
Who Can Benefit From Better Brain Health? If you said “all”, you’re right. However, we will focus on two groups of people who focus on brain health for specific reasons: college students and seniors.
But first, let’s define brain health. The World Health Organization defines brain health as “the state of brain function in cognitive, sensory, social-emotional, behavioral, and motor areas that enables a person to reach their full potential throughout life, regardless of the presence or absence of disorders. “
Why students and seniors?
Students are our present and future, and they need all the support they can get to go to school, stay in school, and thrive academically. They need to be motivated, supported and nurtured.
Seniors have lived for decades, accumulating experience and wisdom. At the same time, the passing years can take their toll on the brain. Brain health in older adults can be affected by age-related changes in the brain, but also by injury (eg, stroke, trauma), disease (eg, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease), and mood disorders. All of these factors affect the quality of life of seniors.
Diet and Brain Health
One thing that can have a significant impact on brain health in both groups of people is food choices. Researchers have documented evidence that some foods are particularly beneficial for brain health due to the quantity and quality of nutrients and other substances that can support brain function.
The following 11 foods support and promote brain health and should be included in the daily diet of students and seniors whenever possible. At the end of the list, we share a few helpful tips to make incorporating these foods much easier.
Almonds: Need a memory boost? Do you suffer from age-related brain dysfunction? Then eat more almonds. Experts found that healthy rats fed almonds had increased levels of acetylcholine (a brain chemical with a role in memory and messaging) and improved memory, while rats with amnesia also showed improved memory after eating the tree nuts.
Avocado: This versatile fruit is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower blood pressure. With high blood pressure being linked to a risk of poor brain health, it’s high time to include more avocados in your diet.
beets: We know that beets are often little found on children’s menus, but they have been shown to promote better blood flow to the brain thanks to the presence of nitrates. That’s a plus for students and seniors alike. This ruby red vegetable has also been linked to increasing function in the area of the brain responsible for working memory and decision making.
Blueberries: These little berries are packed with anthocyanins, plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which are very helpful in fighting off neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging. The antioxidants in blueberries can improve brain cell communication and increase brain power. A study of children and seniors who consumed blueberries also showed better memory and brain processes.
Coffee: If you want a cup of joe to help increase alertness, improve your mood, and improve focus, that’s fine if you’re old enough. Experts recommend people over the age of 12 to consume this drink. Children are particularly sensitive to caffeine, so it’s best for them to turn to other brain-healthy beverages. For seniors, however, the above benefits may be on the table unless coffee and caffeine don’t sit well with their digestive systems or would interfere with their sleep. Research suggests that drinking three or four cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is defined as containing at least 70 percent cocoa powder. This powder is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. Researchers have found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate boost memory and learning. In one large study, people who ate more dark chocolate performed better on memory and other mental tests than those who ate less.
eggs: We often think of eggs as a great source of protein, but they’re also great for brain health. That’s because they provide choline, a micronutrient necessary to make a neurotransmitter that affects memory and mood. One egg yolk contains more than 25 percent of a woman’s daily requirement of choline. Eggs also provide several B vitamins that play important roles in brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12 and folic acid.
Green tea: When you enjoy a cup of green tea (including matcha tea), you are blessed with antioxidants, the amino acid L-theanine, and polyphenols. Antioxidants and polyphenols can help prevent mental decline, while L-theanine can help you relax – and who can’t take advantage of this when studying for an exam or battling stress? Overall, experts report that green tea is a tasty drink that can improve brain power, memory, and the ability to focus and stay alert.
Salmon: Want more gray matter? It’s the stuff in your brain that’s packed with nerve cells involved with memory and decision-making. Salmon and other fatty fish (herring, tuna, mackerel) contain omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that the brain needs to build nerve and brain cells for good memory and the ability to learn. Inadequate intake of omega-3 can lead to depression and learning difficulties, a situation that is not good for students or seniors.
Turmeric: This popular spice contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers and can penetrate the brain and affect how brain cells function. Curcumin has the ability to promote new brain cell growth and improve mood, including anxiety and depression. Looking for a better memory? Curcumin can help.
walnuts: Several different nuts are good for brain health, but walnuts have an advantage because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats for the brain. These nuts are also a source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that may protect against cognitive decline.
Brain Health Food Tips
Why boost your brain health with one food when two or more together will do? All of the brain health foods on this list can be easily combined, either in a salad (vegetables with almonds, walnuts, hard-boiled egg, and avocado), smoothies (endless possibilities, including blueberries, walnuts, green tea, almonds, and dark chocolate ) or main courses (salmon with turmeric and lemon, egg omelette with avocado, beets with almonds and turmeric).
Start the school day with avocado toast and slivers of almonds or a blueberry, almond milk and walnut smoothie. Great snacks for college students and seniors include hard-boiled eggs, blueberries, walnuts, or almonds covered in dark chocolate. Enjoy!
Whether you are a young student or a senior in life, you need to nurture and support your brain health. You can do this by choosing healthy foods every day.
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