It really is amazing how powerful food impacts on our health. Studies have shown that Blueberries improve memory and dark chocolate can improve concentration, however did you know that 99.6% of pharmaceutical drugs developed to combat neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have failed! Do we have your attention? So let’s have a look at some foods that aren’t developed in a lab that can increase our brain function…
Did you know that one of the Omega-3 Fatty Acid, DHA, derived from fish is actually the main fatty acid in our brain tissue and is highly concentrated in oily fish such as salmon mackerel, sardines and anchovies? A regular consumption of this about one to two meals per week, can protect you from cognitive decline.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, Kale, Rocket, Cabbage, Broccoli, to name a few, are vital for cognitive health. Why? Well, they’re full of vitamin E and vitamin B9 which are strongly associated with lower risk of neurodegenerative disease. All you need is one large green salad to get your daily consumption of the green stuff!
Specifically, blueberries and strawberries have been singled out as particularly beneficial for cognitive health (13). The reason lies in a group of non-nutrient compounds known as flavonoids. Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals that are highly concentrated in berries, grapes, cacao and teas, and high dietary intake of flavonoids are associated with lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Just like Berries, Citrus fruits are home to another member of the flavonoid family, namely the compounds Hesperidin and Narirutin, both of which have been shown to result in boosted brain function.
Okay so if there’s an excuse to eat chocolate this is the one … Our brain health! Dark chocolate, with a minimum of 70% cacao, that we’re talking about, contains Cocoa Flavonols. Cocoa also contains caffeine and another brain-boosting plant chemical known as theobromine. The synergistic effect of these phytochemicals has led to some interesting results from a study by Field, D., Williams, C. and Butler, L. (2011). They researched the ‘Consumption of cocoa Flavanols results in an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions. Physiology & Behavior’. The study resulted in improvements in visual acuity, working memory, attentiveness and response time. So, if you ever need that mid-afternoon cognitive lift, without the over-powering disrupting effects of caffeine late in the day, then a square. (Yes – just a square!) of dark chocolate may give you the lift you need.
Yes, I included Kale and Cabbage already, however the family of Cruciferous Vegetables contain a particular compound known as Sulforaphane which is looked upon rather promising for brain health. Unfortunately, brain inflammation is being identified as a cause of depression, and rather than pharmaceutical anti-depressants, it’s been shown by a study conducted last year (2016) by Wu, S., Gao, Q., Zhao, P., Gao, Y., Xi, Y., Wang, X., Liang, Y., Shi, H. and Ma, Y, that Sulforaphane has demonstrated similar effectiveness through its potent anti-inflammatory action. So, think again about feeding your Brussel Sprouts under the table to the Dog!
Revolution Fitness LOVES a Green Tea, and now even more so when we can drink our way to a better brain too! For Green Tea, it’s the combination of compounds it has in it specifically green tea Catechins, Caffeine, and the Amino Acid Theanine, which is unique to tea. Recent evidence from 2014 by Camfield, D., Stough, C., Farrimond, J. and Scholey, A. show that Green tea consistently shows improvements in mood, alertness, and attention in healthy adults, which appear to be reliant on the interactions between caffeine, Theanine and Catechins.
Now this doesn’t mean a Venti Caramel Coffee Frappucino with a topping of squirty cream is allowed! However, there is strong evidence from a 2017 study by Madeira, M., Boia, R., AmbrÃ³sio, A. and Santiago, A. that habitual coffee consumption protects against Parkinson’s Disease. The Caffeine within Coffee positively impacts mood and cognitive processes and interestingly can promote the brain’s ability to change and develop new connections. Nevertheless, keep it to one to two cups a day and NO MORE!