Registered Nutritionist and Thrive Expert Sophie Bertrand goes through some of the foods that could help you stay youthful in mind.
There has been much research in regards to what may impact our wellbeing, and more and more people are seeking ways to stay more ‘youthful’, whether that be physically or mentally. Unfortunately, there is no miracle food or drink that can keep us feeling young forever, but there is research that has suggested certain ingredients may have a positive impact on the function of our brain and cognitive ability.
Various studies have looked at what may impact our brain health…
The nutrient with arguably the most research attached to it are omega 3 fatty acids. Oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines are a great source of omega 3. Around 60% of our brain is made up of fat, therefore it needs an adequate amount to function properly (1). Our brains use omega 3 to build nerve cells which are essential for cognitive functioning and memory (2).
There is additional research that has concluded that omega 3 consumption may help slow down mental decline and possibly decrease risks of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (3).
The popular cooking oil has some promising research behind it, suggesting that it contains anti-inflammatory benefits that may help protect the brain. Further research has indicated that olive oils’ vitamin E content as well as other antioxidants, may help fight free radicals and reduce the risk or Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries have various research behind them, some of which is specific to brain health. They contain a group of plant compounds know as anthocyanins, which have been associated with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants effects (4). Antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation – both of which may contribute to ageing of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases. Some studies have identified that the antioxidants found in blueberries may accumulate in the brain to aid communication between brain cells (5).
This cruciferous vegetable is rich in a variety of nutrients including vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin that has been linked to better memory and cognitive functioning (6). Broccoli has also been suggested to have anti-inflammatory effects which may help protect the brain.
Saved the best until last! As a chocolate lover, it is nice to know that there is some positive research behind chocolate and brain health. Dark chocolate contains compounds that have been associated with good brain health. These include flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants. Research suggest that flavonoids gather in certain areas of the brain that manage our learning and memory.
Our brains use omega 3 to build nerve cells which are essential for cognitive functioning and memory.
Researchers have concluded that these compounds may help slow down ageing of the brain (7). Interestingly, a particular study indicated that those who included dark chocolate in their diets, frequently performed better on mental tasks than those who did not eat chocolate (8).
For all you coffee lovers out there, you will be pleased to know that the caffeine in coffee has been suggested to have various positive effects on the brain. The short-term effects of coffee include improved mood, sharpened concentration and alertness.
Drinking moderate amounts of coffee over the long-term, is said to be linked to reduced risk of neurological diseases such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (9). It is important to note that coffee may trigger symptoms of anxiety in some individuals and disrupt sleep due to its caffeine content.
There are many different foods that may aid in keeping your brain healthy and if you are eating a varied and well-balanced diet, you are probably doing your part in regards to looking after your overall health. Remember there is no one miracle food and if you are worried about your diet, you should speak to a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian.