The human body is 65% water and over 37 trillion cells, while the brain itself is 73% water, and to function optimally, it's critical to provide this liquid body and brain with the nutrition it needs.
Much like a gardener growing food, the ecosystem of the body requires the right elements to thrive: water, sunlight, and nutrient-rich food. The food we choose to eat has a significant impact on our day-to-day cognitive performance, and similar to choosing 87, 89, or 91 octane fuel at the gas pump, the quality of the nutrition matters. There are many things we cannot control, but thankfully, this is not one of them.
This article will help provide you with some basic guidelines that are universally recognized by science to be beneficial for better cognitive performance. Diet trends pass through like the wind; however, several nutrition pillars stand firm with the test of time. Stay hydrated. Keep moving. And lastly, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Our plates are like a canvas, and the more color, the better!
The body operates at its highest level when blood sugar levels remain stable throughout the day without spiking and crashing, creating stable energy levels and the most obvious sign that your blood sugar levels are out of whack is when you crash after eating or have frequent food cravings. If this is the case, getting your levels back to normal can have a big impact on your productivity and energy levels.
The best way to maintain healthy blood sugar leve is to eat high protein foods more frequenty thoroughout the day and consume adequate nutrients while avoiding sugar and other foods with a high glycemic index (GI). Low GI foods help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
As a result, a healthy diet will satisfy the muscles, which require protein, the digestive system, which functions best with fiber, and the bones, which require vitamins and minerals from food.
Additionally, phytochemicals, or the bioactive chemical compounds found in fruits and vegetables, are nutrient compounds that provide various health benefits to the human body and reduce the risks of developing major chronic diseases.
Each fruit or vegetable contains thousands of phytochemicals, which give the fruit or vegetable its color. Carotenes, lycopene, resveratrol, and anthocyanins are a few examples, e ach reducing free radicals and modifying gene expression to prevent carcinogenesis, or cancer formation.
Unfortunately, it is common for people to consume supplements as if they were food, believing that they are receiving the same nutrition. 52 percent of US adults say they take at least one vitamin supplement every day. The issue, however, is with bioavailability, or the proportion of the substance that enters the circulation and affects the body.
Because of the complex interaction and synergistic effect of plant compounds working together, studies have shown that supplements cannot replicate real food. The body does not recognize supplements as "alive" because they extract and distill nutrition into individual components.
Despite evidence demonstrating that natural fruits and vegetables outperform artificial supplements, only 10% of the American population consumes a minimum of 2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily. Most people are unaware that a diet rich in colorful vegetables and fruits, proteins, and healthy fats, while low in processed foods and refined carbohydrates, serves as an excellent foundation.
Furthermore, the intake of 400–600 grams of fruits and vegetables daily is directly associated with a reduced incidence of many common forms of cancer. Most people will agree that vegetables should be a staple of our diet, with fruits serving as a sweet treat, so one of the simplest changes you can make is to start going to your local farmers' market weekly to buy what is in season and find new recipes to work with what you've got.
The ability to access relevant information and complete a task in less time is referred to as network efficiency, and the performance of our neural networks is critical to improving our cognitive performance.
In a recent study published in Neuroimage, researchers studied food and nutrition in a group of 100 people aged 65 using MRIs, blood markers, and cognitive tests to better understand the impact that diet has on brain performance.
Important blood markers included omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, lycopene, folate, carotenoids, riboflavin, B12, and vitamin D, all of which are found in the Mediterranean diet. In terms of MRIs, scientists focused on the efficiency of neural networks as well as tests of cognition, memory, executive function, and general intelligence.
The study concluded that nutrient levels are directly related to network efficiency and cognitive performance. High levels of omega-3s, omega-6s, and carotene were found to be causal factors in increasing network efficiency, according to MRIs. These findings support the scientifically supported view that the Mediterranean Diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy oils, is essential for optimal brain performance.
With so much information on the internet regarding the best way to eat, it ultimately comes down to learning to trust your gut. Three universal principles of nutrition seem to work for most people.
Food and beverages comprised primarily of sugar, fats, oils, or alcohol provide little nutritional value and bog the body down, often creating blood sugar problems over time.
Essential fatty acid intake is one of the few things that science firmly supports in reducing inflammation, increasing cognitive performance, and increasing joint mobility. Balancing the Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio is crucial with the overconsumption of Omega-6s in the standard American diet.
Some people are put off by the term "brain food." Nonetheless, you can easily find foods that adhere to the three universal nutrition principles in the supermarket, at your local market, or even in your current pantry or refrigerator.
Jim Kwik, author of Limitless and Superbrain Coach, shares his list of easily accessible food items that can provide the brain with the energy it requires to function optimally.
Avocados are the only fruit with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, in addition to vitamins B, C, E, K, fiber, and folate. They are a versatile fruit you can eat by incorporating them into your breakfast toast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. Anyone can whip up a tasty and fresh avocado smoothie or guacamole dip at home.
Research shows that the natural plant pigments in berries called "flavonoids" help improve memory. Consequently, a study conducted by Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital showed that participants who consumed more blueberries and strawberries per week had the slowest rate of cognitive decline, delaying it by up to two and a half years. Scientifically, blueberries have high antioxidant levels that help protect the DNA on a cellular level and fight against the premature aging of brain cells.
Antioxidants can also be obtained from common spices and herbs. Turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to its curcuminoids and curcumin components. It also has anti-inflammatory properties comparable to over-the-counter medications, in addition to compounds that supercharge the brain by increasing oxygen flow, strengthening neural connections, and promoting neurogenesis.
Broccoli contains a high concentration of vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin K. This brain food contains vitamin C, which protects the immune system, and antioxidants, which improve overall blood flow. The fiber improves gut health, which has been linked directly to brain health. Finally, vitamin K is a bioactive compound that protects brain tissues, improves cognition, and slows the aging process.
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, arugula, collards, and lettuce, have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and conditions like dementia. In general, leafy vegetables are high in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. To benefit your brain and overall health, aim for one to two servings per day.
Now here's a sweet treat! The cacao in dark chocolate has powerful antioxidants that improve blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Dark chocolate is a powerful brain food as long as it's at least 70% cacao.
Eggs are high in protein, as well as B vitamins, zinc, calcium, and healthy fats. However, keep in mind that eggs are high in cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation. Brain nutrients in eggs, including choline, are essential for mental focus, memory, and learning.
If you don't like fish, you can get Omega-3 fatty acids from nuts like walnuts, flaxseeds, and soybeans. Walnuts, in particular, have the highest concentration of Omega-3 ALA's (alpha-linolenic acid), which promote the formation of new brain cells. Furthermore, they're high in antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation in the brain and body. A UCLA study found that walnuts positively correlate with increased memory capacity, as evidenced by the research subjects' improved cognitive test scores.
For optimal brain health, nutritionists highly suggest reducing red meat intake. Instead, salmon would make a good substitute for that portion. Salmon is not just a protein source, but it is also a source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which play a significant role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases, slowing down brain aging, improving learning and memory, and alleviating symptoms of depression.
We've already established that the human body and brain are mostly made of water. As a result, it stands to reason that we must regulate our water levels in order to maintain cognitive function. According to studies, losing just 1% of the water in the brain can reduce brain functionality by up to 5%, so make sure you drink the recommended 8-15 glasses of water per day, depending on your size and activities for the day.
You are not limited to try our other foods excluded from this list; however, it is best to keep this list in mind as you prepare your new diet plan. It might be most appropriate for special conditions to consult with a nutritionist to get the best diet plan for your brain health.
You can start getting the micronutrients your body requires by increasing the amount of color in your diet. Use the three nutritional principles. Begin week by week to ease the transition. As an example, try eating nine cups of fruits and vegetables per day for one week and see how you feel. The more color there is, the better.
You can prepare them in whatever way is most convenient for your lifestyle, such as juices, smoothies, stews, soups, or steaming. The less complication, the better. This amount of color is only found in a small percentage of people's diets. Distinguish yourself and you will begin to feel better.
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”