Most of us have studied elementary biology and know that eating food serves an important purpose. The nutrients and vitamins we get from consuming natural ingredients ensure our survival. Our brain, the most important organ, requires specific foods to stay healthy.
The brain requires foods which won’t just improve your memory, focus, and productivity but help your body regulate stress, anxiety and mood.
We talked to the renowned nutritionist, Manisha Chopra to understand how food affects brain function.
Our brain is responsible for all the actions, reactions, movements, thoughts, sensations, breaths and heartbeats. Hence, requires fuel to keep going. This fuel is derived from the food that we eat. The food that we consume affects the functioning of our brain.
Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants enhance the brain function. The physical, intellectual and emotional functioning of our brain depends upon the type of food we eat.
“A neurotransmitter called serotonin helps regulate sleep, manages mood and inhibits pain. Most of these neurotransmitters are found in our gastrointestinal tract. Hence, the digestive system also affects our brain and guides our emotions,” explained Ms Chopra.
Now, the million-dollar question is what exactly should we eat to boost our brain health?
Nuts are just perfect for a healthy brain. They are loaded with brain-boosting nutrients such as healthy fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants. Nuts like almonds help sharpen our memory and walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids to our body.
Basically, dark chocolate contains antioxidants, flavonoids and caffeine. It boosts learning, enhances memory and reduces the risk of age-related mental illnesses. Dark chocolate also acts as a mood booster.
“Caffeine and antioxidants present in coffee are good for the brain. It keeps our brain alert, improves our mood and sharpens our concentration. Coffee also offers some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. You do, however, need to limit the intake to only one or two cups a day,” recommended Ms Chopra.
Turmeric contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that enhance our memory, reduce depression, and help new brain cells to grow.
Fatty fish is good food for the brain. It is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps in building brain and nerve cells, enhancing our learning ability and memory. Eating fatty fish improves our mood as well.
“Go for grilled or roasted fish to keep your weight in check,” suggested Ms Chopra.
Broccoli is a rich source of plant compounds, including antioxidants. It is high in vitamin K and a number of compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects which help in protecting the brain against damage.
“You need to watch out for the quantity because broccoli can make you gassy,” warned Ms Chopra.
Eggs are also good for our brain health. They include vitamins B6 and B12, choline and folate. Choline helps regulate memory and mood. Vitamin B12 and folate help in fighting depression.
Pumpkin seeds protect the brain from free-radical damage. Rich in zinc, iron, magnesium and copper, these seeds provide protection to the brain against damage.
So, ladies, ensure you’re adding these foods for the brain to your diet.