You’ve no doubt heard the old saying “You are what you eat.” Well, recent medical research has highlighted links between diet and improved mental functioning, raising the distinct possibility that, in fact, “You think what you eat.”
That could be encouraging news for youngsters diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seniors struggling with the onset of dementia and anyone who desires to think more clearly and focus for longer periods of time.
Lots of foods are rich in the vitamins and other nutrients that can boost cognitive functioning, some which are well-known and others that are less-familiar. Among them:
Blueberries: Regular blueberry consumption has been shown to improve memory function. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which aid in preventing damage caused by free radicals. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Research has also found that these little blue jewels can reverse age-related diminishment in coordination, balance and motor function.
Eggs: Did you know egg yolks are rich in choline, an important nutrient in improving memory function?
Broccoli: According to the authors of “365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power,” broccoli – or, more specifically, broccoli sprouts – is a super food that has been linked to staving off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Flax seeds: Flax seeds are packed with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fatty acid considered beneficial in combatting a range of health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol. Some evidence also suggests benefits for the brain’s cerebral cortex, where sensory information is processed.
Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acid, salmon promotes the growth of brain tissue, helping counter the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive disorders.
Chocolate: For those with a sweet-tooth, perhaps the most exciting news to come out of medical research in some time is that eating chocolate can sharpen cognitive ability. Yes, chocolate! And both dark and milk chocolate have benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and can improve mental focus and concentration; milk chocolate is believed to improve memory and reaction time. (So, have your doctor write you a prescription for a 30-day supply of Hershey’s bars immediately!)
Foods to Avoid
If, after adding some of these super foods to your diet, you haven’t experienced the benefits you were hoping for then it’s time to consider taking certain foods out of your diet. Many people are unaware that they have food intolerances that can have a negative effect on cognitive functioning.
For example, some people may experience a turnaround after removing wheat and gluten from their diets. For others, yeast, dairy products, soy or corn may be the culprit. If you think you may have an intolerance to any of these foods, cut it out of your diet for a few weeks and see whether your ability to focus improves. (Food Sensitivity Testing is also available for a more in depth screening of reactions to over 300 foods, chemicals and other substances associated with inflammation that are linked to chronic health problems.)
Your brain is full of potential, but in order to reach that potential you need to treat your brain to a healthful buffet. Start by adding some of these super foods to your diet and getting rid of any foods that may be causing you more harm than good.
Want to learn more? get in touch with us.
About the Author
Cody Larson works with the Jacksonville University School of Nursing where he regularly writes on topics regarding general health and wellness. You can follow him @codylarson on Twitter.