The Best Brain Foods for Cognitive Nutrition
Food is vital in all senses, and it is not only meant for survival. The calories and nutrients present within various foods can provide an organism with the energy needed to perform various tasks. As a result, foods influence our performance in every activity, especially neurological, cognitive activity. Our nervous system controls virtually every process within our bodies and without its proper functioning, all of the body's other systems it manages are adversely affected. This is where interest in brain-healthy foods, containing specific nutrients that support proper nervous system function, comes into play. Unfortunately, most of the food that people consume nowadays is junk and does not provide the appropriate mix of energy and required nutrients you really need for good, true neurological performance. It must be understood that all of the organs within the body, especially the brain, need an adequate amount of specific nutrients and without them, the entire nervous system along with the rest of the body's organ systems will not be able perform optimally as they should.
So, every important process within the body needs nourishment that must be properly replenished through a continuous intake of adequate amounts of water and nutrients. This is true for your brain as well as your muscles. A smart consumer will understand and look for food choices that give the body what it actually needs. Nutritious food choices naturally boost energy and subsequent physical output as well as ensuring the proper, efficient functioning of every organ. Of course, junk food certainly does not fit the bill in this effort as this highly processed food is relatively low in nutrients and high in undesirable, processed ingredients. Alternatively, there are power foods that contain high amounts of a variety of nutrients that can effectively meet your body's needs and as a result, double your energy and keeping you fit and looking good.
An Introduction to Cognition
The one factor that makes human beings superior to every other living organism on earth is their cognition. Cognition is the ability to memorize, think logically, evaluate a situation, work on the knowledge and embark upon a journey to learn more. Our cognitive processes are the primary function that makes our brains different from other life forms. So, the more energy your brain has to work appropriately, the more efficient your thinking will be.
Our brain has many different zones, each one with their own functions and connections. Most of our thinking is done through the cerebral cortex, which is also the place that receives every sensation we have and starts almost every movement we make. The thalamus is located in the center of the brain, and regulates emotions, attention and consciousness, as well as the sleep-wake cycle. Right below, the hypothalamus is also a complex center for many sensory impulses as well as other silent processes such as appetite, hormonal signals, and many vital functions. Near the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland is a very small but important gland that regulates and commands the release of important hormones from other glands in the body. The cerebellum is located in the posterior zone of the brain, it looks like a miniature brain and regulates the coordination and balance of every movement we make. Many other structures serve like communications or bridges, such as the pons, that communicates the cerebrum with the cerebellum, and also gives rise to very specialized nerves called cranial nerves.
If you are finding it hard to focus or memorize, always remember that one of the reasons is likely to be your food choices. Parkinson, Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia are neurodegenerative diseases that slowly takes place in the brain until it's too late. A diet with unhealthy fats will promote inflammation, and insufficient antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E leads to oxidative stress. Both inflammation and oxidative stress are the triggering factors to cause nerve cell death, and the development of neural plaques that blocks normal brain connections. Ages of research in the field of nutrition have shown that different types of power foods have important anti-aging functions for your brain.
Cognitive nutrition provides the right food choices that will keep the brain's ability to perform and self-repair. This can be achieved through nutrient rich food that will maintain the vigor and mental health before any signs of mental decline starts to show. The antioxidants in brain foods are essential to promote detoxification and slow down the aging process in our brain. If you cut an apple in half and leave it, the inner part will slowly turn brown as a result of the oxidation from free radicals in the environment. However, after you rub the inner part of the same apple with lemon juice, you will notice it will not turn brown so quickly, which is the same that happens within our brains when we choose the right foods. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C and E, among other substances, protect the brain from aging, and sometimes reverses the damage from oxidative stress.
Cognitive Nutrition is a specialized field of study, and this means that not every kind of food will fit the profile. While some food might have all the nutrients which are cognition friendly, some might have none of them. Therefore, here is a list of food which, when consumed will power up the tasks of your brain to a whole new level:
Beets are qualified as one of the most nutritious food choices. The effects of this vegetable on the body are incredible, with anti-inflammatory capabilities and even blood circulation enhancement. So, stop judging by their weird tomb-like looks because they can literally provide twice the energy than any other conventional food. Beets are present in almost any mind-enhancing diet cookbook and for good reason. Beets are the number one vegetable recommended by many nutrition specialists.
How it helps:
Betaine is an amino acid found in the juice of sugar beets, it is a derivative of the nutrient choline, which also increases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, an important neuronal signal for gut motility and memory. Beets are also a rich source of trimethylglycine, a molecule that neutralizes various chemicals and activates healthy genes in your body. One of the molecules promoted by consuming beets is called SAMe, and it helps to boost mood and may even contribute to increase the libido. Finally, consuming beets increases the blood flow to the brain in older people because of its effects on widening blood vessels and increasing blood flow, providing more oxygen to areas that were lacking. This effect, along with the added benefits of choline and its positive effects on memory, can in turn, slow down the onset of dementia.
Broccoli may seem dull, judging by appearance, but it is extremely beneficial for the proper functioning of your brain and to enhance your cognitive abilities. The presence of Vitamin K in this vegetable is what makes it especially profitable. Broccoli is a powerful antioxidant and has many other health benefits, which is the main reason it should always be on your dinner table if your goal is a sharp mind and a healthy body.
How it helps:
Broccoli has a high content of lignans, a phytoestrogen with interesting benefits on cognitive skills (thinking, remembering, and learning words). This plant is also high in glucosinolates, a group of substances that promotes a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Alzheimer's Disease features low levels of acetylcholine, and it is necessary for the normal functions of the central nervous system to perform properly (low levels of acetylcholine are common in those with Alzheimer's Disease).
One of the first foods that come to mind if you want to boost up your cognitive processes is Avocado. This is because avocado has essential fats that adults and children need for various cognitive processes. Avocado also provides an abundant spectrum of vitamins and even proteins that will not only double your memory capacity, but also reduce your risks for cardiovascular disease, which in turn also affects the brain and overall health.
How it helps:
Avocados are rich in healthy fats called monounsaturated fats, potassium, and Vitamin K. These fatty acids decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL), the potassium lowers hypertension, and the Vitamin K enhances coagulation. For this reason, avocados can be considered a nutrient pack for cardiovascular health that prevents the hardening of blood vessels, and reduces the risk of stroke. Additionally, it contains folate, an essential nutrient for brain health. The deficiency of folate leads to cognitive deterioration and Alzheimer’s disease, and avocado is a great source to avoid it.
4. Coconut oil
Though it is not a solid food, the use of coconut oil in the preparation mind-enhancing recipes can give your memory a nice boost. Coconut oil has been shown to prevent and reverse dementia associated with aging. This is why it is used as a neuroprotective food for those suffering degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and also as a brain food for those who are trying to prevent the onset of these neurodegenerative diseases.
How it helps:
Coconut oil is a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides. These fats are metabolized differently than most other types of fat. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil are broken down into ketones by our bodies. Ketones can be used as a fuel by our brain cells, and for this reason it constitutes an extra source of energy for our minds.
5. Dark chocolate
This one might sound unexpected, but yes, dark chocolate can be a good choice to enhance the memory. Apart from the anti-inflammatory and fat cutting properties that cacao is known for, dark chocolate offers a clean source of energy that can boost nervous system function. So, try to keep it around in your mind-enhancing diet cookbook and remember, this tasty delicacy is actually considered to be a "superfood," enhancing both the brain and body. Dark Chocolate not only promotes improved thinking capabilities, but also affects the mood, making life seem a bit more positive.
How it helps:
Dark chocolate increases the production of endorphins. These are the neurotransmitters of happiness and euphoria, reduce pain, and prevent the negative effects of stress. The flavonoids found in dark chocolate have been shown to increase the blood flow to the brain, preventing mental decline and enhancing short-term memory. Additionally, the antioxidant content present in dark chocolate helps to protect your brain from harmful chemicals called free-radicals which are directly related to the deterioration of brain tissue and aging.
What are the natural brain enhancers?
The natural brain enhancers mentioned above enable the brain to function with optimal efficiency because they simply have what your brain needs to perform correctly. But for that to happen, we still have to do our part by incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into our diet. There is no ancient magic trick that can transform the brain without any effort, even positive thinking takes effort at first. What you mindful readers need to do is understand the different choices you have, and learn how to make those smart choices not only surrounding brain-friendly foods, but in all areas of life. This way, you'll experience more energy and a greater overall sense of well-being.
Apart from the great foods mentioned within this write-up, other great brain-food choices to help cognitive and neurological functions are: blueberries, oily fish, tomatoes and other vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits. The brain is undoubtedly the most important organ in the body, the one that monitors the working of the rest of the organs. As such, it is very important that everything you consume produces energy and provides the body with the tools it needs to keep mind, memory and mood sharp.