Brain is the most complex and important part of living beings. It controls all the functions, our body performs and all emotions we undergo. Brain doesn’t work at the same frequency all the time. And very few of us knows that “Foods” how directly effects the working of brain. Its not just the foods but, how they are prepared, when and how you eat and the combination of different foods at a meal time.
How to Pick Brain Health Foods?
Food is the substance we eat and nutrition is the hidden power within food. Almost all of us are aware about the importance of Vitamin C, the sources are majorly citrus fruits and it is good for bleeding gums and healthy skin same for Vitamin E.
But how to nourish your brain with right food is not that common. Fueling your brain is good but to achieve excellence is highly recommended.
Nature has given us a wide range of ready to eat brain healthy foods but down there we are listing top five foods which are easily available, widely used and high in the nutrients that brain requires. Using whole grains and nuts in daily diet supply good amount of nutrients needed for your brain.
Following are the most widely used foods, they are not listed in order of preference, and all are important, beneficial and healthy in different ways.
Nuts in general are high in their calorie content. Same is for walnuts. This favourite brain-shaped nut is having many miracle-properties for heart & brain respectively.
- One of the best plant sources of:
- Highly rich in fiber content
- B vitamins
- Magnesium and Vitamin E which are good Antioxidants
- Contains Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats i.e. Omega 3’s, which are generally termed as good fats.
Other than snacking or adding up in desserts, if you want to obtain maximum benefit – eat walnuts after crushing in their natural form. This is a Nature’s gift for your Brain and Heart.
2. CACAO Beans:-
Minimally processed cacao beans are very health. Recent studies have proved them the ultimate source for better brain functioning, antioxidant and a mood enhancement food.
Cacao beans used in chocolates are mostly of low levels. Along with this we are not just consuming cacao beans, sugars, artificial flavoring and milk fat are the other must ingredients. Moreover the processing of Cacao used in such products is not healthy because of “Alkalization”.
These have high cacao percentage on average of 75%, but considering health factor we suggest sources having 85% or more.
Functions of CACAO Beans:
- Cognitive enhancement
- Deals with romantic moods
- “Theobromine” in CACAO acts as an Antioxidant
- Maintains skins elasticity and cardiovascular health.
3. COFFEE Beans
One of the most popular drinks: being used all over the world. Coffee beans just like cacao beans have many positive effects on general physical and mental health, but should be fresh, of good quality and lightly roasted.
Recent research results made coffee as Number 1 source of antioxidants in the normal American diet.
Health benefits of Coffee:
- Rich with Antioxidants
- Amino Acids
- Vitamins and
- Caffeine: This is now considered good in the group of antioxidants.
- Reduces the risk factor of diseases like “Dementia” and “Alzheimer’s
It is better to use coffee of good quality ground vigorously and made in brown sugar with plain water. Artificial flavors, creams, sugars, caramel, added chocolates and double dairy milk disturb its chemical aspect & give you many unwanted calories.
Is stone-ground green tea prepared according to old Japanese tradition? It is not available in “Tea Bags”. The actual ‘Matcha’ is not commonly available, only found at certain places with its genuine qualities.
Health benefits of Matcha:-
- Relieves stress
- Refreshing and improves metabolic activities.
- Amino Acid L-Theamine act as a relaxant, helps in meditation
- Contains EGCG i.e. Epigallocatedchin gallate which contains miraclepowers to prevent – Caners & Early Aging
- Contains Vitamin A, C and Fluoride as well.
Not all the Matcha have same properties but it is hard to belief it is 10 times more beneficial that regular green teas.
5. Acai Berries & Blueberries
Acai: is basically a South American berry type. Purple colour berries are a rich source of all antioxidants, vitamins and essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3’s. Remarkably high in protein content which makes it a SUPERFOOD for brain and body respectively. Fresh berries are recommended, dried, canned and processed may loose their certain properties.
Commonly known as “Brainy berry” – easily available in its fresh form unlike Acai. So, make it a habit eating blue berries everyday and fight back brain disorders, improve your overall health, look young for longer. Isn’t it amazing?
6. WILD SALMON
Is one of the healthiest foods one can eat. Incredibly good for brain. As it contains:
- Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3.
- Richest source of non-land animal protein of high quality
- Contains lowest amount of contaminants among seafood
- Low in saturated fats
But it is important to know and consume only wild Salmon because farm raised Salmon don’t have the above mentioned.
A Look On Food Habits
Our food habits, likes, dislikes and availability all are affecting our overall mental and physical health. Little knowledge can bring differences in our performance. So, here are some golden tips to help your brain work better through foods you eat and time you choose for eating.
Select the “Right Fats”
Human brain is highly sensible to nutrition during the first two years of life and in elderly age.
- Most rapid growth of brain occurs in first five years. The brain of baby grows 3X by the first birthday in size. Fats are the major component of nervous cells, that’s why the brain uses almost 60% of the total energy consumed by a baby.
50% of the calories in Mother’s milk is of fat, how wisely nature fulfilling the infants requirements.
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and Omega 3 fatty acid are the brain building fats. Mother’s milk is high in these fats and low in body building fats because human brain grows rapidly than the body during infancy.
- For elderly people whole wheat grains and their products fulfills the requirements to some extent.
Selection of Carbohydrates
Brain utilizes 20% of the CHO (Carbohydrates) consumed by the body. Different Sugars have different effects on the brain. A nice smooth supply throughout the day has positive impact.
Beware of Junk Sugars:
All sorts of candies, sugars, icings, baked goods in packages and table sugar comes under “Junk sugars”.
They instantly enter the main blood stream and sugar level goes up at once and after some time when all is consumed it comes down. Such rapid increase & decrease of sugar levels effects moods of adults and specially children.
Complex Carbohydrates or starches are the best form of sugars for brain. They release energy steadily and thus prevent the speedy high levels of sugars in blood following by a sudden drop.
Brain Friendly Sugars
GI or Glycerin Index is the rate at which sugars enters all the cells of the body including brain cells.
The foods having low Glycerin Index are considered of good quality and brain friendly.
Following are the Best Brain Sugars.
- Fruits: along with their skin are good Apples, Cherries and Grapes have low GI. Grapefruit and Orange should be consumed as a fruit – fruit juices have high GI’s.
- Cereals and grains: whole wheat grains, bran and oal meal have the lowest GI. Rice and spaghetti are moderate, while Corn flakes and sweetened cereals are quiet high in GI’s.
- Vegetables and Legumes: All sorts of beans and legumes have the lowest glycerin index. Root vegetables have a pretty higher.
- Milk and milk made products: Milk and plain natural yogurt have low glycerin index. Fruit yogurts are much higher in GIs.
Grazing a Good Habit
When a person ran out of fuel his mood changes, brain working slows down. He might feel stressed, aggressive or irritable, it’s all the roller coaster effect of sugar levels on brain and physical activity.
So, its good to have a between meal snack. Instead of stuffing your stomach at 3 meals a day – divide your food into 5 meals or more and enjoy more active functioning of your brain and body.
Role of Proteins:-
Proteins are of high importance as they supply Amino Acids of which neurons are made. Tryptophan and Tyrosine are two important amino acids and precursors of Neurotransmitters.
Tyrosine is a non-essential Amino Acid and body can prepare it when needed.
Tryptophan is an essential Amino Acid and must be taken externally in diet.
Brain perks up or slows down after meals because of following two reasons.
- When we consume high protein, low carbohydrate and high tyrosine meals make the brain to work rapid.
Foods: Soy, meat, eggs, seafood and dairy majorly.
- When we consume a meal which is low in protein, high in carbohydrates content, high tryptophan tends to “Relaxes” the brain and smoothes down the rapid jerks.
Foods: Beans, nuts, seeds, desserts, chocolates, pasteries, legumes.
Choose the Right Combination
The functioning of a brain after each meal is interpreted by the combinations of protein to carbohydrate we make. Have you ever felt lethargic after having a meal high in calories? Reason is the blood stream at once got enough simple sugars and thus complex sugars break down in slow steps providing constant flow of sugars perk up the brain.
Here is a guide for planning your 3 important meals according to your own activities:
Not having breakfast has a very bad effect on your general well being. After a long night, breaking up your FAST is “MUST” for an active start of the day.
- Do take fruits as a First Course,
- Followed by Protein and Carbohydrate
- I recommend Milk instead of shakes; teas and coffee take these
beverages in mid morning with a snack of your choice.
Afternoon is still an active part of the day. If you are a working personal plan your meal which is:
- Low in calories
- High in proteins which contains “Tyrosine”
- Beware of taking carbohydrates. Select Complex Sugar group which will help you consume moderate calories
- Salads – with a dressing of your choice refreshes you
- It is better to avoid desserts if you have planned to work further at that time of the day
I always plan a menu for dinner which is high in calories but should be designed easily. Diets if planed wisely at dinner improve your sleeping patterns.
- Fancy salads or cooked salads are recommended
- A combination of Simple and Complex Sugars works good, provides high calories
- Choose the food groups containing High Tryptophan in them
- A dinner might be followed by a dessert
Food Science of nutrition is a wide branch of science, But one should have deep eye on what we eat, how we prepare and what the food is doing for us. It varies from person to person.
This challenging game of providing right fuel to your brain must be played with knowledge and wisdom.