We all know diet is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. What we put into our bodies can affect us on all levels. And while many of us are aware of heart-healthy diets and foods to lower blood sugar, what about nutrients specific to brain health?
The bad news is that as modern medicine and nutrition have helped extend our lifespan, we are also now at higher risk of age-related brain disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The good news is that we know more than ever about how the foods we eat can support our nervous system and brain health. In fact, there is a long list of foods you may already be eating on a daily basis that are beneficial to brain health and function.
Good news for those that like their chocolate on the bitter side: dark chocolate is packed with brain-boosting compounds.
Chalked full of flavonoids and antioxidants, not to mention a dash of caffeine to keep you stimulated, the brain benefits and lower sugar content of dark chocolate might ease the guilt of eating sweets (in moderation).
The flavonoids in dark chocolate – a plant-based antioxidant – gather in the parts of the brain linked to learning and memory. Researchers believe that flavonoids can not only improve memory, but even slow down age-related mental decline.
In one study with over 900 people, chocolate lovers did consistently better than their non-chocolate-loving counterparts in a variety of mental tasks.
Research also shows that chocolate is a great mood booster, finding that those who eat chocolate tend to have more positive feelings compared to those who abstain.
That said, it is certainly possible that chocolate-related happiness might be because chocolate tastes good. After all, who isn’t a little happier after a delicious treat?
Aside from helping you start your day, a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University indicates that caffeine may enhance long-term memory.
The research, published by the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed that caffeine enhances certain memories at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed.
During the double-blind study, participants who did not regularly eat or drink caffeinated products received either a placebo or a 200 mg. caffeine tablet five minutes after studying a series of images.
The next day, both groups were tested on their ability to recognize images from the previous day’s study session.
On the test, some of the images were the same, some of the images were new, and some were similar but not the same. More participants who received the real caffeine tablet were able to correctly identify the new images as “similar” to previously viewed images rather than incorrectly identifying them as the same image.
Researchers designed the study to reveal a deeper interaction between memory and caffeine.
A study conducted in 2014 found that eating sufficient amounts of vitamin C-rich foods can protect against age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells.
Other foods that provide high levels of vitamin C include bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and kiwi.
Multiple studies have shown that nuts can improve brain function and help prevent brain-related diseases. Nuts are also known to be good for heart health, which is closely linked to brain health.
A study specific to the effects of nut consumption among women found that those who ate nuts regularly over a period of several years performed consistently better in memory tests.
Several nutrients in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E, may explain their brain-health benefits. Vitamin E is hailed for its ability to protect cell membranes from free radical damage, helping slow mental decline.
While all nuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an extra edge, since they also deliver omega-3 fatty acid. Walnuts are also an excellent source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant which plays an essential role in the health of cells, yet decreases in our bodies as we age.
Eggs, certain cuts of meats, and varieties of fish are all great sources of Vitamin B12—which is necessary for making DNA and for creating energy in our cells. Vitamin B12 deficiencies leads to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression. A long-term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system.
Fortunately, you can safely consume Vitamin B12 in large doses as the body stores excess B12 in the liver for use as needed. Storage of B12 in the body can last several years, which is why it takes a long time before people realize they have a deficiency in their diet.
High vitamin B12 foods include clams, fish, crab, low-fat beef, fortified cereal, fortified soy milk, fortified tofu, low-fat dairy, cheese, and eggs.
In addition to our vitamin infusions specifically for Vitamin C and booster shots for Vitamin B12 and Glutamine, we also offer the Myers Cocktail Infusion, which remains one of the most popular infusions with a wide range of health benefits. Since it combines essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium with health-affirming vitamin B and C, this infusion has a strong potential for maintaining a healthy brain.
Give us a call at 956-335-0250 or schedule an appointment today.