5 foods that enhance your brain power
Blueberries are great for brain function no matter what your age. Perhaps you’re a school age student wanting to get a boost in focus levels, your brain is aging and you want to reduce the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, or you’re a pregnant women who like all mothers wants to give their baby the best shot in life.
Blueberries contain a flavonoid called Enos, which increases blood flow and carries more oxygen to the brain. Multiple studies in the past have shown flavonoids to greatly slow brain aging. In a recent study, participants aged between 65 and 77 were given blueberry juice concentrate. The results showed a significant increase in memory, blood flow and brain activity compared to the placebo.
This could be because of the effect blueberries have on the hippocampus. The area of the brain that controls memory. The hippocampus is the only area of the brain that is constantly replacing cells for new ones. Rats given a supplement of equivalent to 2 cups of blueberries a day for 2 months showed to have greater activity in the hippocampus and scored better on memory tests than the placebo.
Research also shows that consuming blueberry in the morning can have a great effect on your ability to perform mentally during the afternoon. In a study conducted at Reading University by Dr Jeremy Spencer in 2009. People of all ages were given a blueberry smoothie for breakfast in the morning. The subjects were asked to complete a variety of concentration, memory and reaction tasks after one hour. Both the control group and the blueberry smoothie group performed on the same level. However, after the test was reassigned to the groups 5 hours later, the placebo group began to receive test scores of between 15% and 20% lower. While the blueberry group was able to focus just as well as they had in the morning.
Monounsaturated fat is an incredibly healthy fat. It is known to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol. Having too high blood pressure hardens the blood vessels which restricts blood flow and can lead to stroke in the worst case. Healthy blood vessels allow blood to flow around the body and to the brain easier. It just so happens that Avocados are 75% monounsaturated fat. While also supplying us with a good dose of potassium, vitamin K and folate. These three also reduce the hardening of blood vessels and assist the monounsaturated fat superbly.
Monounsaturated fat also aids in the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is responsible for your neurotransmitters. The tiny little connections that your brain uses to send signals through the brain and around the body are transmitted with acetylcholine.
Another very interesting amino acid avocado contains in high levels is tyrosine. Tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine which is responsible for your motivation. Particularly the feeling of reward after you have completed something. We all know we perform better when we are motivated right?
Chinese monks have been drinking green tea for thousands of years to help them stay focused during long periods of meditation. These days we have the scientific evidence to what they already knew. The answer in l-theanine. This technical sounding chemical is a relaxant. It stimulates alpha brain waves thus relaxes you without any drowsiness.
Caffeine is well known for its stimulating effects. Caffeine can really put a spring in the step and enhance your concentration levels drastically. However, it is short lived and just as fast as you go up you come crashing down. But with l-theanine it works differently. The caffeine is released slowly. Meaning no crash and a lasting subtler caffeine felling. With alertness shown to gradually increase until its peak 5 hours after consumption.
A study was conducted analysing the connection between l-theanine and caffeine at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research. 16 participants were asked to drink one of the four. Plain water, water with 60mg of caffeine, water with 100mg of l-theanine and water with both. The participants were tested on their alertness and attentiveness for 3 consecutive hours. The results showed dramatically better test scores on those who drank both l-theanine and caffeine.
I have tested the effects of beets and I must say I was incredibly surprised. I could consciously feel the effect it had on my energy level. I felt as though I had drunk a handful of coffees. I became very clear headed and handled myself wonderfully while doing my work and felt a lift in my conversation skills.
This is believed to be the case because beetroot contains nitrates. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide and opens the blood vessels allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to the brain and other places lacking in oxygen.
For this reason I must say that it combines excellently with exercise. When I take my daily cycle home, I can really feel the difference in how hard I am breathing once I reach the top of the hill. It’s much easier on beet juice.
Beetroot juice become popular after paraolympian David Weir said his secret weapon was a shot of beetroot juice before his event. Explaining “I must admit I was sceptical (of beetroot juice), but I immediately noticed a significant improvement in my performance from the first time I tried the Beet shot. Ever since then it’s been an integral part of my training regime and I couldn’t imagine competing without it,” he said.
"I immediately noticed a significant improvement in my performance from the first time I tried the Beet shot."
Omega 3 is a fatty acid found in hemp seeds, chia seeds and fatty fish. Omega 3 once consumed is converted into EPA and DHA, both of which are critical to the proper functioning of the brain. These fatty acids are abundant in the membranes of our brain cells. Keeping the cells strong and healthy while assisting in communication between brain cells.
Omega 3 fatty acids are even being used as a treatment in children suffering from ADHA syndrome. A 2005 study found a profound increase in school performance in children with learning difficulties.
Several studies with pregnant woman show fish oil omega 3 supplementation has an effect on the child’s mental capabilities in early childhood.