It’s no surprise that diet can vastly affect our brains and our ability to concentrate on certain tasks throughout the day, so when that afternoon lull comes around what should we be eating to give us that vital pick-me-up and what should we be trying to avoid? Will changing our diet increase our brains health throughout the future as well as in the short term? Here are some of the best brain foods to eat for short and long term brain health.
1.Oily Fish – Essential fatty acids are not naturally produced in our bodies and we must obtain them through our diet alone. Oily fish contains the most effective omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. Low levels of DHA have been linked to a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. There are other foods that are a good source of omega-3 to which are linseed (flaxseed) oil, soya beans, pumpkin seeds and walnut oil. The best oily fish to eat are salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and kippers. Try eating at least one portion of oily fish per week, or if you are vegetarian or vegan then increase the amount of pumpkin seeds and soya beans you eat for a healthy brain.
2.Whole Grains – People who eat more wholegrain foods are apparently less likely to experience feelings of depression, effecting your mind’s wellbeing but wholegrains are also a great source of energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from a steady supply of energy (glucose) from our blood to the brain. Try eating wholegrains with a low-GI, these release glucose slowly into your bloodstream, keeping your brain alert throughout the day. Try eating more brown cereals, seeded or granary bread and brown whole-wheat pasta.
3. Dark Chocolate – Not all chocolate is bad for you. In fact dark chocolate is great for your brain in the short and long term. Dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content has high levels of flavanol which improves blood flow to the brain making it a good brain food. Cocoa may also improve brain function in elderly people and improve their verbal fluency. As well as this cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which perks your brain up in the short term. Dark chocolate is often sweetened with sugar so be careful not to gorge too much on it. Try eating a small credit card sized piece (approx. 8 squares) in the afternoon to increase your brain function.
4.Avocados – Avocados contain a lot of healthy unsaturated fats, which help keep out brain cell membranes flexible. The monounsaturated fatty acids in them help protect our nerve cells in the brain and improve the brain’s muscle strength. These monounsaturated fatty acids also help with healthy blood flow and reducing blood pressure, which in turn help the brain to function at its best.
5.Dark green leafy vegetables – Dark green, leafy veg like kale, spring greens, spinach and broccoli are really good sources of vitamin E and folate. It is thought that folate helps protect the brain by lowering levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood. High levels of this amino acid can trigger the death of nerve cells in the brain as well as increasing the risk of heart disease. However, folic acid helps break down homocysteine levels.