Our brain is unlike any other part of our body. It has a unique anatomy, a special physiology, and sits quite isolated on the tops of our body. To make things more complicated, we know only a little bit about how it works, and we have a very hard time understanding it even though it governs virtually all out activities, and certainly all our thoughts and feelings.
Think about how aware you are of your brain. Do this exercise in your mind: Can you feel your hands, and can you imagine their outline? What of your back? Can you breathe in and feel your lungs? And can you feel your stomach stretch after a big Thanksgiving dinner? Now think about your brain in the same way? Are you having much luck? Try to imagine an injury or ailment. You can feel it when you hurt your toe. Or if you have food poisoning – your stomach screams out in discomfort and there is plenty of evidence that there is indeed a problem. But do you know when you have hurt your brain? Can you feel your brain being fatigued, or ill, or strained? It is much harder to be conscious of a brain ailment than of most of our other functions. Given this, the brain is probably one of the most important parts of our body that benefits from preventive care. In other words, given how hard it is to notice and treat brain ailments, we have to make every effort we can to ensure our brain is healthy and working well. How do we measure brain health? That is another complicated matter in itself. However, we can notice and address manifestations of brain wellbeing. What are these manifestations? Memory is a good example. Depression, cognitive function and exhaustion are good examples of other such manifestations.
There are several things we can do to keep our brains healthy. One of the easiest is change our diet. There is sufficient evidence that some foods have a clear beneficial impact on the brain. In this article we briefly explore these foods. One of the foods that consistently emerges as being key to brain health is fatty wild caught fish. This includes salmon, sardines and other such fish. Fatty fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids are one of the key components of the brain. Not only does your brain seem to use omega-3 for growth and development and function, but there is some evidence that these fatty acids reduce mental decline associated with age. Blueberries are another simple food that seems to have numerous benefits for our brains. Blueberries are not only rich in vitamin K and fibre, but are also a good source of antioxidants and gallic acid. Some evidence suggests that these nutrients reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and help in maintenance of health brain tissue and function. There is also some evidence that blueberries improve memory and reduce age-related memory loss. Nuts is another food that helps brain health. Some research has shown that nuts can aid in cognition and even reduce the likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Many nuts are rich in vitamin E which helps to shield cell membranes from some forms of damage. Nuts are also often rich in beneficial oils and fats and in antioxidants, all of which help to maintain brain health. Walnuts, in particular, are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, making them especially beneficial to brain health.
Dark chocolate is another food that has been shown to be beneficial to brain health. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants, all of which have been shown to have benefits to our brains. Research suggests that flavonoids may enhance memory and slow mental decline that comes with age. Beyond that, eating chocolate is also a good way to improve your mood, and needless to say, that has long lasting benefits for our brains. Avocados are also excellent sources of nutrition for the brain. The avocado one of the healthiest fruits you can eat, with a whole spectrum of nutritional benefits for our body. Avocados contain vitamins B, C and K, as well as folate, and are rich in monosaturated fats. Studies suggest avocados can improve memory, concentration and general cognitive function. And as a side benefit, they help to keep blood sugar levels steady and give us a beautiful glowing skin. There are several other foods that have been shown to benefit our brains. These include black beans, broccoli, tomatoes, beets, eggs, coffee, turmeric and curry, and coconut oil. Many herbal teas, such as chamomile tea, have also been shown to be beneficial to our brains. When considering foods that are good for your brain, a simple guideline is that the foods should not be high in sugar, should be rich in essential fatty acids, especially omega-3, and rich in minerals. Avoid foods that are rich in fats, or frozen foods, and definitely avoid foods rich in sugars that are likely to give you a sugar rush. Sodas, muffins, and frozen pies and ice cream are some of the foods with the least benefits to our brains, and may in fact have some detrimental effects. Alcohol and cigarettes, needless to say, are also very bad for your brain. If you want to take good care of your brain, remember to eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest and avoid extreme stress. Combining these will help you keep that large mysterious organ in your head in good health and help to reduce possible age-related mental illnesses. And try to always smile. The brain is amazingly powerful, and a positive approach to life can have huge benefits to your overall health.