Sometimes our brains can feel a little drained. Maybe it is inching toward the afternoon, and you desperately need a snooze. Maybe, you’ve had a long day at work and have an even longer evening waiting for you at home. Whatever the case, it can be hard to keep our heads on straight at times.
Feeding yourself the right foods could mean improving both your memory and concentration. It all begins and hinges upon ubiquitous protein.
“Protein gives us the raw materials that make up all of our body tissue and next to water, protein makes up most of our body weight,” says the Memory Foundation.
“Muscles, organs, hair, nails lots of hormones, red blood cells (the all important oxygen carriers), and the brain are all composed of protein, so it’s obvious why protein is an important part of the diet,” says the site.
With a decent balance of protein, essential fatty acids and other natural nutrients, you will be outperforming even the sharpest of ‘Poindexters.’
Water can keep you hydrated, which always makes your head feel better. According to Psychology Today, “in a study presented in April 2012, at the British Psychological Society annual meeting, undergrads who brought water with them to exams outperformed those who didn’t.”
Those examining the study’s results found that drinking water had a direct affect on the brain. The researchers conducting the study are also said to have taken into account each student’s previous grades.
“Water is essential for every cell, tissue, and organ in the body,” explains Psychology Today. “And the brain is no exception.”
Salmon is filled with protein, as well as certain essential fatty acids, which are known to promote brain health, as well as healthy cells overall. Salmon is also known to contain DHA, which is said to help regulate the production of healthy brain cells.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, food’s rich in a nutrient identified as choline may have improved brain function.
“The nutrient from the B vitamin family is found in foods like chicken, eggs and saltwater fish as well as legumes such as kidney beans,” says the Daily Mail.
The news source reports that the study found those who consumed diets rich in choline faced lower rates of dementia, as well as higher scores on select memory tests.
While peanut butter is noted to contain 8 grams of protein for every 2 tablespoons you eat, it is also said to contain folate.
“Studies have linked folate to improved memory function and mental processing speed — two things that typically take a hit as we age,” reports Forbes.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which are known to help fend off free radicals. Free radicals are things in our environment that can enter through our body to cause damage on the cellular level.
According to the site, Doctor’s Health Press, there are three types of chemicals essential for the optimal function of our brains. They are: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
According to sources, an imbalance in any of these three substances may lead to an increase in anxiety.
“When anxiety occurs, it literally changes how your body functions. It will reduce the hormone balance in your system and will immediately change how the neurotransmitters are transporting nutrients to the brain.
Beets are said to contain an ample amount of vitamin B.
“When anxiety occurs, it literally changes how your body functions. It will reduce the hormone balance in your system and will immediately change how the neurotransmitters are transporting nutrients to the brain,” writes the site, Rodale’s Organic Life.
Some officials believe that eating a banana may improve brain function, and possibly even boost test scores.
According to the site, Course of Action, “Studies show eating bananas help students learn more efficiently and improve exam scores. They also contain vitamin B6, which promotes the production of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine to support concentration.”
According to sources, spinach is rich in magnesium, which is used by certain neurons to send messages within our brain.
“Magnesium “sits” on the receptor without activating it, in effect protecting the receptor from over-activation by other neurochemicals, especially the neurotransmitter glutamate. If there isn’t enough magnesium available to protect NMDA receptors, glutamate constantly triggers the receptors causing an “excitatory” response,” reports Forbes.
According to the author of this Forbes article, activating these NMDA receptors too many times can begin to cause cognitive decline and cellular damage.
Green tea, like blueberries, is also known to contain a high amount of antioxidants that prevent free radical damage. Green tea is also said to contain caffeine, which can stimulate the metabolic rate of the brain, according to some researchers.
Cheese (Cottage Cheese, Cheddar and Swiss)
The aforementioned cheeses are said to contain high amounts of protein, as well as other essential nutrients.
“The study, by U.S. and Australian researchers, involving 1,000 adults, found those who regularly have dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt score better on tests of mental ability than people who never, or rarely, consume dairy,” reports the Daily Mail.
According to the Daily Mail, while cheese and other dairy products have been shown to improve brain function, the exact reasoning remains unclear.
According to Shape Magazine, a study conducted by UCLA found that women who ate Plain Greek Yogurt had higher cognitive functions in comparison to those who did not eat yogurt.
“After four weeks, the women who ate the probiotics displayed a different degree of cognitive responsiveness in their brains than those who did not, specifically in regions that process emotion and sensation,” says the magazine.