Sponsored by Ayoola Foods Nigeria Limited
By Wisdom Deji-Folutile
Apart from having great living habits, your diet also has a large part to play in keeping the most important organ in your body healthy. In this article, we are going to be covering 7 foods that can help keep your brain firing all cylinders throughout the day.
- WHOLE GRAINS
Food can sometimes be so delicious that we might want to eat our favourite meals everyday because of how great they taste. However, the most important reason for eating food is for replenishing energy levels. Just like every other organ in the body, the brain needs energy to function. Whether trying to focus on your day job or simply to keep system functions running, the brain still needs a steady supply of energy to work properly. Whole grains provide carbohydrate, which is a good source of energy. Examples of wholegrain include pasta, rice, wholegrain cereal and baked foods like wheat bread.
Omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish in the form of EPA and DHA. These Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) cannot be produced by humans and therefore they can only be obtained from food. Omega-3 fats are essential for the heart, joints, and, of course, the brain. There have even been studies linking low DHA levels to an increased risk of dementia. Other studies have also suggested that high levels of Omega-3 fats lead to increased blood flow in the brain, which could boost brain function. Other good sources of EFAs include soybeans and walnuts.
Eat an apple a day? Well, also eating an egg a day will probably do more than just keep the doctor away! Eggs are a good source of B vitamins like vitamins B6, B12 which have been shown to reduce brain shrinkage and slow down cognitive impairment. Other B vitamins like B1 and B3 are essential for regulating brain function, and Choline (which is abundant in egg yolk) is essential for memory-boosting chemicals.
Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E, which helps preserve cognitive function. Cashews are rich in mineral magnesium, which is known to improve recall ability, and Walnuts are also rich in Omega-3 (remember, those good fats that also boost brain function). Nuts are a very good alternative source of minerals and mono-saturated, healthy fats for vegetarians or people who don’t enjoy fish as much as the rest of us!
- LEAFY GREENS
Turns out, your vegetable soup does a lot more for you than just tasting great. Leafy greens contain essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help keep your brain healthy and functional. It is also a great low-calorie source of dietary fibre. Your leafy greens range from cabbages, spinach, and cauliflower, to Waterleaf, bitterleaf and Jute leaves (Ewedu).
They are not just used to help make your soup taste less peppery! Tomatoes are also great for improving brain function and preventing brain disease. Lycopene—an antioxidant found in tomatoes—could help protect the brain against radical cell damage (which is among the health challenges that occur in the development of dementia).
Beans is rich in fibre, Vitamins and omega fatty acids. Fibre helps you maintain concentration by keeping you full for longer periods and creating a gradual, steady release of sugar. B Vitamins, which are also found in beans, are also important for aiding chemical conversion in the brain. It is also a good source of amino acid. I think eating beans soup seems like a great idea right about now!
BONUS NUMBER 8: BERRIES
Vitamin C is said to improve mental agility and its deficiency has been linked to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Vitamin C has also been shown to be a good source of chemicals that help manage anxiety and stress. Good sources of Vitamin C include cranberries, oranges (which are also berries!) and strawberries (which, oddly, are not berries!)
It is also important to note that good rest is probably the most important “food” that keeps your brain healthy and alert. Drink warm milk or herbal tea to help you relax, and try to stay away from your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This helps your brain to stop releasing dopamine, which in turn helps you fall asleep faster.