Your diet affects your brain health and cognitive abilities greatly (Nature Reviews Neuroscience). This means two very important things. One is that eating ‘bad’ foods for the brain can bring your mental acuity down. Nutritional deficiencies might even cause cognition and memory problems and permanent brain damage. The second thing is that by eating the right foods you can boost your brainpower. The trick is to know which nutrients are the most effective for that.
What are the best foods for your brain ?
The following foods are considered best for your brain by science, and can improve cognitive power:
- Salmon (and other fatty fish).
Omega 3 fatty acids boost brain recovery after injury and help slow down natural deterioration caused by age.
- Nuts and seeds.
These foods are rich in B vitamins and vitamin E. The former help improve memory, while the latter reduces the rate of age-related cognitive decline. Brazil nuts are an important source of selenium, which is essential for overall brain enhancement. Low levels of selenium are associated with a lower cognitive function.
Please note that vitamin B12 is also important for memory boost, but it’s only present in animal foods.
- Red meat and legumes.
These foods provide you with important vitamins and iron. This mineral is essential for improving and maintaining mental acuity. Women are more at risk of iron deficiency, so they might consider taking supplements.
- Berries provide you with flavonoids, which can reduce the rate of cognitive decline (Annals of Neurology).
Don’t forget that it’s not only the foods you eat but how you eat them that affects the benefits of meals for the brain. If you want to achieve the best results, you might consider trying a ketogenic diet plan. You should also choose to eat 5-6 small meals a day if you want to keep your mind sharp throughout. This will help you avoid blood sugar jumps, which have a negative effect on your metabolism and brain function.
Please bear in mind that there might be specific dietary requirements for those who suffered a traumatic brain injury. In any case where the overall health of your brain is in question, your doctor should develop the diet. Note that you might even need to avoid some brain-boosting foods as they can react badly with the medication.
Please, don’t believe the stories that some foods or supplements can enhance your cognition overnight. The best way to improve your brain function via meals is to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet low in fats. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best options for the brain.
However, you will need to follow these dietary guidelines consistently. And the best effect they will provide is slowing down the natural brain decline. To improve your cognition, memory, and intellect, you’ll need to train them using specific exercises. Your diet will play an important but only supportive role in any significant ‘brain boosting’.
What are the worst foods for your brain?
Unlike a healthy diet, which mainly helps keep your mind as sharp as it can be, eating ‘bad’ foods can significantly reduce your brain power. If your diet as a whole is poorly balanced and you develop nutritional deficiencies, the damage might be permanent. This is most dangerous for children.
The absolute worst foods for the brain are:
- Sugary drinks
- Foods high in saturated fats
- Refined foods (white bread, added sugars, cookies, pastries, etc.)
Note that there are some sources that claim alcohol to offer a short-term cognition boost. However, long-term effects of the drink are devastating. People with alcoholism are at risk of brain shrinking and other disorders. The damage dealt by alcohol cannot be fixed.
If you want to have your brain be at its best, eat a healthy diet and forget about junk foods, refined carbs, alcohol, and sugars. This simple change might help you avoid becoming a statistic in the growing epidemic of dementia.
You might be interested: What Happens to Your Body and Brain When You Stop Eating Sugar and Refined Foods