The Best Brain Foods for Cognitive Nutrition
Greek philosopher Hippocrates is well-known for his famous quote, "let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food." Interestingly, in times where countless individuals have had the opportunity to experiment with comparing the effectiveness of natural solutions versus conventional medical practices, the words of "the father of medicine" may hold more meaning than ever before. Its no secret that food is vital in all senses, and it is not only meant for survival. The calories and nutrients present within various foods are designed to provide our bodies with the required energy to facilitate the carrying out of various physiological 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 need for good, accurate neurological performance. Moreover, it must be understood that all of the organs of 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 to perform at optimum capacity as they should.
So, every vital process taking place within the body needs nourishment that must be adequately replenished through a continuous intake of sufficient 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 offer their body the nutrients they need. 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, some superfoods contain unusually high amounts of nutrients that offer an effective means of meeting your body's nutritional requirements through diet. In turn, incorporating more of these superfoods can likely result in enhancing 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. It is our advanced level thinking or intellectual ability that allows us humans to learn, share information, and develop ourselves as well as our respective civilizations. To do this our brains needed to be larger and more complex than other species. As a result, over time, our ancestors needed to have access to the required nutrients to support our more advanced brains which of course, use more energy and produce higher outputs of thinking power.
Our brain has many different zones and each zone has its own unique function. 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 sophisticated 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 tiny but important gland that regulates and commands the release of essential 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's, 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 is insufficient in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E which can lead to oxidative stress. Both inflammation and oxidative stress are triggering factors in the cause of nerve cell death and the development of neural plaques that, over time, can block connections throughout the brain. Ages of research in the field of nutrition have shown that different types of nutritious foods have important anti-aging functions for your brain.
Cognitive nutrition provides the right food choices that will help the brain's ability to perform and self-repair. This can be achieved through nutrient-rich food that will aid in maintaining vigor and mental health before any signs of cognitive decline starts to show. The antioxidants in certain 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 that it will not turn brown so quickly, which is the same phenomenon that happens regarding the tissues in our brain when we choose the right foods. The antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E, among other substances, protect the brain from aging, and sometimes can reverse the damage from oxidative stress.
Cognitive Nutrition is a specialized field of nutritional study, and this means that not every group of food may fit the profile. While some foods might have all the nutrients to support brain health, some might have none of them. Therefore, here is a list of food which, when consumed can help to power your brains ability to think and initiate tasks 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 provide twice the energy than any other conventional food. Beets are present in almost any mind-enhancing diet cookbook and for a 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, and it is a derivative of the nutrient choline, which also increases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter used throughout the body. 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 increasing the libido. Finally, consuming beets increases the blood flow to the brain in older people because of its effects on widening blood vessels and improving blood flow, providing more oxygen to areas that were lacking. This result, 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 incredibly 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 exceptionally 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 in regards to enhancing cognitive skills (thinking, remembering, and learning words). This plant is also high in glucosinolates, a group of substances that promote healthy levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Alzheimer's Disease features low levels of acetylcholine, and it is necessary for the standard functions of the central nervous system to perform correctly (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 increase 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 an excellent source to avoid it.
4. Coconut oil
Though it is not primarily a solid food, the use of coconut oil in the preparation brain-enhancing recipes can likely give your memory a nice boost. Coconut oil has been shown to possibly prevent and reverse dementia associated with aging which is why it is used in natural medicine as a neuroprotective food for those suffering degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. In addition, it is also used as a preventative brain-food for those who are trying to avoid the onset of 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 the nervous system.
5. Dark chocolate
This one might sound unexpected, but yes, dark chocolate can be an excellent 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 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 adverse effects of stress. The flavonoids found in dark chocolate have been shown to increase 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 are the foods mentioned above which have been demonstrated to enable the brain to function at optimal capacity. There significance can be determined as valuable because they merely comprise of compounds that have been shown to be advantageous to the brain for efficient neurological performance. But for that to happen, you readers still have to do your part by incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into your diet. No ancient magic trick can transform the brain without any effort; even positive thinking takes effort at first. What many health-minded individuals who are searching for natural solutions need understand is that while there are an array of choices available in regards to health, the key takeaway is to learn how to make smart decisions, not only concerning brain-friendly food but in all areas of life. This way, you'll carry with you the wisdom needed to thrive and experience a complete sense of well-being.
Apart from the interesting foods mentioned in 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 critical organ in the body as it regulates the workings of the rest of the body's organs. As such, it is imperative that everything you consume, foods as well as information, provides you with energy and nourishment, empowering you with the tools needed to keep your mood elevated, your mind active, and your memory sharp.