By Edeline Anne Goh
Here’s a brain teaser: did you know that chewing enhances your brain power? Studies show that chewing actually helps increase your concentration levels. In other words, chewing on food that helps to skyrocket your brain power gives you a legitimate reason to eat your way to a smarter you!
The truth is, poor brain function can lead to a whole host of problems including short term memory loss, difficulty in concentrating, extreme fatigue and even Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, it’s possible to combat these problems by eating foods that help boost your brain power. You will also find yourself more productive as you go through your day and certainly more alert and focused for important tasks.
Here are some of the “smart foods” that should be on your grocery list:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in nutritional supplements. These amazing brain nutrients are also found in fresh foods. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and soya beans are all rich in EPA and DHA which help maintain healthy brain function. In fact, studies show that low levels of DHA in a person can be linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A plus factor is that studies suggest DHA acts as a natural anti-depressant.
Vitamin K is abundantly found in green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus and spinach. Research from the University of Montreal found that vitamin K plays an important role in relation to the nervous system. It helps with the formation of brain and nervous system fat, which protects the outer layer of the nerves. Vitamin K has also been linked to reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. However, do take note that vitamin K encourages blood clotting so be sure to consume it in moderation.
Why vitamin E? Consuming a generous amount of vitamin E not only gives you radiant skin, it also helps prevent cognitive decline among the elderly. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E but if you are concerned about consuming large quantities of nuts because of allergies or the fact that they are rather costly in this part of the world, you can always munch on other foods that are rich in vitamin E such as olives, eggs, asparagus and seeds. In fact, a study by the University of Navarra in Spain showed that extra virgin olive oil and mixed nuts, when incorporated into the diet of the elderly, significantly improved their brain function as well as prevent heart disease, stroke and reduce the risk of muscle weakness.
Are you showing signs of memory loss like being unable to recall names or forgetting your routine tasks and where you parked your car? Sage is your answer. This brain super food not only makes your food taste great, it’s wonderful for your memory too. So the next time you cook, see if you can include a generous sprinkling of sage. It’s a delicious way to improve your memory.
This popular antioxidant is often the talk of the town. Now, researchers have found that flavanoid not only protects you from degenerative diseases, it helps boost your brain power too. A study conducted by Dr. Jeremy Spencer from Reading University, as reported by The Daily Mail, found that participants who ate a bowl of blueberries (known to be high in flavonoids) in the morning were not only able to increase their concentration and memory levels but also maintained them for up to 5 hours after their blueberry meal.
This last tip isn’t exactly about what to eat but more about when to eat. It’s a fact that you should never skip the first and most important meal of the day so make a habit of getting off to a good start everyday by having a good breakfast. Studies show that eating breakfast helps to improve short term memory loss and focus. Also, students who eat breakfast each day tend to perform significantly better in school than those who don’t. Multigrain cereals and fruits or even a delicious grilled chicken sandwich are great, healthy options.