From learning a new language to going on a daily jog, you can adopt many habits to improve brain health. Additionally, the choices you make during breakfast, lunch and dinner can either keep you sharp or dull your cognitive skills over time. Learn which foods are best and worst for your brain.
A healthy brain comes from eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Within these groups are some particularly powerful brain foods. Give your brain a boost by adding the following ingredients to your daily diet.
Berries. Adding more berries to your diet is a simple way to quash sweet-tooth cravings. These little morsels also contain flavonoids, which give berries their color.
Flavonoids can do a lot more than that though. They can also improve your memory, so don’t hesitate to load up on berries the next time you make a smoothie, salad or dessert. You can also get a good dose of flavonoids from other fruits, including oranges, apples and plums.
Leafy greens. To delay cognitive decline, fill your plate with plenty of leafy, green vegetables. Foods like spinach and kale can offer your body plenty of vitamin K, folate (a B-vitamin), beta-carotene (an antioxidant that turns into vitamin A ) and lutein to nourish your brain.
Fish. Fatty fish, such as tuna, cod and salmon contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids. These unsaturated fats help keep your brain cells in good shape. If you’re not a fan of fish, turn to walnuts, avocadoes or supplements for a healthy dose of omega-3.
Soy products. Soybeans contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that might decrease your risk of developing dementia. With that in mind, add more soy products to your menu. These foods can help keep you sharp as you age.
Brain-numbing foods to avoid
You might want to do more than add healthy dishes to your diet. Take things a step further and cut out unhealthy items. Here are a few types of food that have a negative effect on your brain.
Processed foods. Grocery store shelves offer all sorts of processed foods, such as potato chips and candy. Some of these products seem ideal when you want a quick snack. But they also add lots of calories to your diet without offering much in the way of nutrients. Eating too much of these foods can lead to weight gain as well as brain tissue damage.
Sugary drinks. Make an effort to avoid sugary drinks too. Like processed foods, they can lead to excess weight gain without providing nutrients. Too much sugar can lead to impaired memory, brain function and learning. It’s also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Alcohol. Most people are aware of the downsides to excessive alcohol consumption. Too much beer or too many glasses of your favorite mixed drink or wine can impair memory functions. Alcohol can also interfere with your sleep. And lack of sleep leads to a number of issues, such as mood swings and difficulty making decisions and concentrating.
Keep your kitchen stocked with whole foods and fresh ingredients. This will help you avoid the temptation to reach for those convenient yet unhealthy options.
Looking for more healthy food tips? Learn more about the nutrition services we offer at Mercy Health.