As people age and getting older, it is natural to observe a certain degree of cognitive decline which is associated with memory, language, thinking or judgment problems. There is no need to worry about it as it will be possible for the person to have its daily life and usual activities as before. The first symptoms can be expressed in ways such as forgetting names, taking longer time to think of a word and poor judgment. In depth brain imaging suggests that the following changes may be associated with mild cognitive impairment:
- The hippocampus, a brain region important for memory was found to have a smaller size than normal
- Enlargement of the brain's fluid-filled spaces (ventricles)
- Reduced glucose consumption in important brain regions.
There is no any treatment available in order to prevent cognitive decline, especially in elderly. However, doctors and nutritionists emphasize the importance of a healthy diet to enhance brainpower. Diets rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes are highly recommended as part of healthy and balanced diet as well as it is suggested to replace saturated fats with healthier fats sources such as olive oil and canola oil. Additionally, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and B-vitamins are known to support brain function and can lead to better brain function.
These 5 Foods Have a Proven Effect on Brain Function
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Examples include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and herring. Omega-3 fatty acids have been reported to improve the blood flow in the brain and research suggests an improved brain function in people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Berries. Berries are known to be an excellent source of antioxidants and specifically flavonoids. Apart from strong antioxidants, flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Additionally, a review indicated that the antioxidant compounds found in berries can improve brain cell communication and can reduce or delay age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mulberries and blackcurrants contain high amounts of flavonoids.
- Eggs. Apart from a high amount of protein, eggs are also a very good source of B vitamins. Then main vitamins of this category include B-6, B-12 and folic acid. A study reported that dietary administration of B vitamins can reduce the plasma concentration of homocysteine, a common amino acid which in high levels can result in brain atrophy and early development of heart disease. A diet rich in B vitamins may prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline.
- Coffee and tea. A cup of tea or coffee can give you a concentration boost mainly because of presence of caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant which increases alertness and decreases fatigue. Different studies reported that caffeine may increase the brain capacity for information processing and also to improve response time and vigilance.
- Green vegetables. A great number of green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli contain high amounts of important nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene which have been suggested to slow cognitive decline. Brocolli is rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids which are antioxidants and possess glucosinolates which when the body breaks them down isothiocyanates are produced. It has been suggested that isothiocyanates may decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and reduce oxidative stress.
The aforementioned foods have the potential to improve the overall brain function as we age. The main nutrients which can have an impact on a boost of brain function include omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants. Their incorporation into our diet is easy, however, for best results a person apart from adjusting its diet can adapt a healthier lifestyle. Regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and getting enough sleep can also have a great impact on brain function.