Tuesday Tips for Caregivers – 10 Foods to Improve Brain Power
The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs or muscles do. Eating well is good for your mental health as well as your physical health. Which foods are particularly important to keep your brain healthy?
- Oily fish – Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet. Oily fish contains EPA and DHA in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
- Whole grains – Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from the adequate, steady supply of energy – in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Opt for brown cereals, wheat bran, granary bread and brown pasta.
- Blueberries – Evidence accumulated at Tufts University in the United States suggests that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss. Widely available, so there’s no excuse.
- Tomatoes – There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
- Vitamins – Certain B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. A study of a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment found that after two years of intervention with high doses of B6, B12 and folic acid there was significantly less brain shrinkage compared to a subset given placebo treatment.
- Blackcurrants – Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility. One of the best sources of this vital vitamin is blackcurrants.
- Pumpkin seeds – Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.
- Broccoli – A great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.
- Sage – Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory and although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, it could be worth adding fresh sage to your diet too.
- Nuts – A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains.
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