While we may not be able to see the benefits to brain health, it’s important that we do our part every day to support a healthy brain. Our brain controls all functions of the body, processes emotions and memory, and embodies the essence of the mind and soul.
In order to keep ourselves metabolically healthy, paying special attention to brain health should be a priority. Along with physical exercise, sleep, social interaction, and mental stimuli, the foods we eat play a large part in helping our brain operate at its peak performance.
Boost your brainpower by incorporating these foods into your nutrient intake:
1. Fatty Fish
The average brain weighs about 3 lbs, and 60% of the dry weight is made up of fat, making the brain the fattest organ in the body. Healthy fats found in fish help to enhance brain function, and DHA in these foods stabilizes brain cells. Fatty fish include those in the abbreviation SMASH—salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring. These fish have high omega 3 composition and low mercury content.
Our brain and stomach are directly connected via the vagus nerve—the longest cranial nerve in our body, beginning at the brain all the way to the abdomen. Foods rich in fiber, such as apples, provide our body with adequate fiber to clean any toxic buildup found in our gut, which can lead to damaging effects on our brain. Several studies have also found that apples can reduce the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Fermented foods like olives are packed with probiotics (such as Lactobacillus) that significantly support brain activity. Probiotics produce neuroactive molecules that promote adequate brain signaling, such as the stimulation needed for the vagal (vagus) nerve. Our brain and gut hold hands.
Artichokes contain two important minerals for brain health. Phosphorus, found abundantly in artichokes, can assist against cognitive decline and brain cell damage. Magnesium, also prevalent in artichokes, helps with more than 300 enzyme reactions in the brain and body. Magnesium binds to GABA, a neurotransmitter in our brain that produces a powerful calming effect in our body.
We cannot talk about brain health without talking about the importance of water. The brain is roughly 73% water, and it takes only 2% dehydration to affect our attention, memory, and other cognitive skills. Water also helps deliver nutrients throughout our body and remove toxins. Without water, we’re left feeling fatigued and foggy.
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