Have you ever wondered is it possible to improve brain function? New research1 shows that not only improvement is possible, but even growing new brain cells is now the deal. This phenomenon is called neurogenesis. The fact is that an adult brain can generate new brain cells. What it means to us?
New neurons can be generated in the hippocampus – part of the brain responsible for learning, memory, mood, and emotions. We are talking about 700 new neurons a day, which seems significant if we take into account that after several decades our set of neurons will be completely replaced from the set we were born with.
Can we control new brain cell growth?
Yes, we can increase neurogenesis by learning and activity, no surprise here, and also running and having sex. On the other hand stress and sleep deprivation decrease neurogenesis. We can also influence it through our diet. The food we eat affects our brain.
What to eat to improve brain performance?
Before we talk certain food, we need to mention that also our eating habits can influence brain performance. Calories restriction and intermitted fasting can help in increasing brain performance. Skipping meals, or eating at specific ‘eating windows’ (e.g. 8/16 where you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16) can make a significant change.
Let’s talk about my favourite thing. Food. The brain requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Fortunately, it turns out improving your brain can be delicious! Also, brain-boosting diet can benefit all your body.
Food for healthy brain
Foods rich in flavonoids that increase neurogenesis include dark chocolate, blueberries and all dark skinned fruits.
Be sure to include in your diet food rich in micronutrients; vitamins B6, B12, folic acid and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, fight free radicals and strengthen the brain. Minerals like iron, copper, zinc and sodium are also fundamental for brain. Minerals can be found in a variety of foods, but some foods are especially abundant in these important nutrients;
berries (antioxidant-rich berries that can boot brain health include strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, mulberries), nuts, seeds, grains, beans, avocados, spirulina and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, swiss chard, and brussels sprouts. If you’re a chocolate lover you’ll love to hear that cocoa may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning, and also stimulate blood flow in the brain.3
Don’t forget about crucial for to the creation and maintenance of brain cells omega 3 & 6 fatty acids you can find in avocados, nuts and seeds: flaxseed, soybean, almonds, cashews, and peanuts, flaxseed and chia seeds, sunflower, and canola oils, walnuts and Brazil nuts.
What about red wine? There is a myth here that must be dispelled. Glass of red wine could be helpful because of resveratrol that promotes survival of new neurons, however because of alcohol content it’s rather neutral, than beneficial. Sorry you’ve heard it from me.
Besides proper diet a good solution to improve memory and concentration are suplements. Here, Ginko-Biloba, ginseng, maca, fenugreek, bacopa will be irreplaceable.
What on contrary has a bad impact on your brain?
High sugar and saturated fat intake, alcohol, and…soft diet. Japanese scientists found that insufficient mastication activity during growth as well as aging holds neurogenesis in adulthood.2
Don’t forget that as well as a healthy diet, specific life style helps to keep our brains sharp.