The question of how food affects our body is well established and it does not need any elaborate explanation. With the rise of mental health cases in western countries along with the huge costs of treatment, experts have begun to ponder on the effect of food on brain function. The Mental Health Foundation of UK has claimed that changes in diet over the period of past 50 years could be contributing to this problem.
How the Food We Eat Affects Our Brain
A look at the composition of brain will tell us a lot about how food can affect it. The brain has dry matter, 60 % of which is fat. One-third of this is essentially what is known as fatty acids. The fatty acids are so called because the body cannot synthesize them and thus, they need to be obtained from the food we eat. DHA is an essential fatty acid as it is the main component of nerve cell membranes of the brain. Hence, it is very important that the food we eat has this nutrient or substances that result into its formation.
Moreover, studies have revealed that antioxidants reduce the process of brain damage through inflammation and oxidation. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. French researchers have linked intake of flavonoid-rich food to prevention of cognitive decline. Flavonoids have been termed super nutrients that are found in onions, endives, aubergines, lettuces, berries, red peppers and citrus fruits.
Foods that have Positive Effect on Brain and Mental Health
- Oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, tuna and others have omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as DHA. The latter comprises of 8% of brain’s dry matter. This is why it is considered one of the best foods for brain.
- Fruits that are rich in antioxidants play a vital role in protecting the brain tissue from oxidation. Green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals have contain the vitamin folate, whole grain products have many types of vitamin B, antioxidant vitamins like C and E are found in many fruits and vegetables.
- Flax seeds—Flax seeds have a lot of ALA. It is one of the fatty acids that help the cerebral cortex to function better. This is that part of the brain which processes sensory inputs. Keeping it sharp is most important.
- Cocoa – It is another flavonoid-rich food, but should not be confused with chocolate that contains a lot of harmful sugar and fats. Only 100% organic cocoa in the form of powder or dark chocolate bars with at least 75% cocoa content is useful for your brain.
- Nuts and seeds have minerals like zinc magnesium (also found in several green leafy vegetables), and iron. These minerals stimulate certain neurotransmitters of your brain. You can have them as snack in the morning or evening.
- Studies have suggested that having green tea or other herbal teas can aid in improvement of your memory. Green tea has an antioxidant called catechin which is anti-cancerous. The free radicals that cause damage to the brain due to oxidation can be prevented by having it in moderation.
- Avocados have healthy fat content that promotes blood flow and the mind functions at its peak. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure.