Brain is that very important organ of our bodies that not only controls various body functions but also keeps are emotions in control- making us the unique individual that we are! Thus, it becomes almost inevitable to protect our brain health. While there are many ways of preserving the health of the brain such as brain exercises, memory games etc, food that we eat is the most crucial of all. Certain foods slow down the aging process of brain keeping us active and mentally sharp for the rest of our lives. We will discuss as to what foods are good for brain health and will also get the list of best brain foods but before that we must understand why we need to take special care of our aging brain!
The Mystery of Aging Brain
When we are children, our brains are most potent. It is during childhood that the neural pathways are established and our brains receive immense information which is recorded and stored here. The youthful brain of early childhood begins losing brain cells on daily basis in early adulthood. What is sad is that these brain cells are not replaced in adults. However, this daily loss of brain cells is very controlled and organized. The remaining brain cells compensate for the dying cells in a manner that we cannot notice their declining status until very late in life. The most affected area is obviously the memory which declines slightly everyday and become crucial in advanced old age. Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases are a result of memory loss due to our aging brains. These diseases are believed to be due to the increased amount of free radicals in our body. Free radicals can be called the by-products of our body cell’s processes. However, because not all elderly people suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases, the exact relationship of free radicals and aging brain remains to be established. In spite of all the negative things happening in our brains’ functioning with age, the good news is that we can slow down our brain’s aging with two steps- one is to have diet that includes best brain foods and supplements for brain health and second is to do mental exercises!
What are the Best Foods for Brain?
From among all the components and nutrients of foods, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and B vitamins are good for brain health though other nutrients too play important role in brain functioning. How can we call the foods containing the above constituents good for brain health? Lets see
Carbohydrates- Brain uses this for energy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids- It is used for formation of brain’s cell structure.
B Vitamins- These vitamins for brain health help a lot in its functions. Vitamins B6 and vitamin B12 help in manufacturing and releasing chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters whose function is to that regulate mood, hunger, and sleep.
Antioxidants- Foods that are rich sources of antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E and beta-carotene, help in protecting brain cells against free-radical damage. Vitamins C and E slow down the process of memory loss thus preventing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Zinc- This mineral is essential in protecting our mind from forgetfulness- one of the crucial symptoms of aging brain.
Folic acid- Although folic acid is needed for brain development, it can not be called a brain food for aging brain because human brain stops developing cells in early adulthood itself. Otherwise, foods with folic acid are good for brain health.
We also need proteins in our diet for healthy brain as they affect brain performance by providing amino acids essential for making neurotransmitters. Fats too play a role in brain’s health because they are major components of the brain cell membrane as well as the myelin sheath – the covering of the brain cells’ axons. Other than zinc, the minerals magnesium and manganese are required for brain energy whereas sodium, potassium and calcium help in our thinking process by facilitating the transmission of messages. Iron is also a very crucial element to be included in foods for brain as they carry oxygen to the brain cells and aid in the formation of brain neurotransmitters which affect mind’s attention and learning capacities.
List of Best Foods for Brain Health
- Wholegrain Foods- cereals, wheatbran, wheatgerm, wholewheat pasta
- Oily Fish- salmon, tuna as well as fish oil
- Walnut oil, olive oil
- Tomatoes, broccoli, sage, carrots, peppers and celery
- Caffeine- coffee, chocolate preferably dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Nuts- walnuts, almonds, pecans and peanuts
- Seeds- Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds or linseeds
- Oranges, lemon
- Chicken and lean red meat
To help your aging brain slow down the process of aging, what comes out of the above discussion tells that you must include oily fish or fish oil supplements, a lot of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, foods containing vitamin C, Vitamin E, and B vitamins in your daily diet as they are the best foods for brain health!