Your Brain on Healthy Food

Your Brain on Healthy Food
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Your Brain on Healthy Food

Read on to learn more about how certain health foods actually aid in brain function.


Water is an essential component of the human body. The body reacts to dehydration as a sign of stress. This stressed state can initiate the release of cortisol, which has been found to decrease memory function. Conversely, some studies have found that drinking water can improve cognitive function and even mood.

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Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made in the body, thus, we must obtain them from diet. Fish like salmon have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which play a crucial role in brain function. The omega-3 called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a fat that helps brain tissue function.

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Walnuts are another omega-3-rich food and even resemble the brain in shape! Eating walnuts is beneficial to the grey cells in the brain and also helps the brain to function normally.

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Even though the brain is mostly made of fat, it requires carbohydrates for energy. Since the brain is unable to store carbs, it relies on a constant supply from the blood stream. Carbs that are low on the glycemic index are ideal because they sustain a more consistent, slow stream of energy to the brain.

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Ginko Biloba

Some studies suggest that the supplement ginko biloba could help to prevent memory loss. Subjects who took ginko biloba showed improved brain function in their memory centers.

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Some studies have found that blueberries can help protect the brain from the effects of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's disease. A study on aging rats found that blueberries improved their learning abilities and motor skills.

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Spinach is filled with folate, which helps the brain maintain healthy circulation and also prevents the build up of plaque. Folate also helps to make neurotransmitters which are necessary for learning and thinking.

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Purple grapes — and yes red wine — contain a phytonutrient called resveratrol, which aids circulation. A recent study found that resveratrol increased the brain blood flow in participants as they were completing mental tasks.

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Sweet Potato

Filled with vitamin B6, sweet potatoes are an excellent way to help maintain the nervous system. Brain chemicals like serotonin and adrenalin require vitamin B6.

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Garlic has been found to reduce tumor growth, especially in the brain. Another study discovered that the inflammatory properties of garlic helped to protect against a loss in cognitive function.

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Avocados enhance blood flow, which can help to liven up brain cells and improve focus.

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Green Tea

Green tea contains an amino acid called theanine, which can help to improve cognition, but also creates a calming effect. Theanine helps the brain exhibit more α-waves that are associated with relaxation.

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A recent study found that women who ate probiotic-filled yogurt showed altered cognitive function. This is fascinating research because it suggests that bacteria in the gut actually affects how the brain processes stress.

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Tomatoes contain carotenoids, which help maintain the fat in the body and the brain since its mostly made of fat. It also helps to prevent free-radical damage, something that the brain is susceptible to because it is filled with omega-3 fats.

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Various foods have been touted for their positive effect on cognitive function, but how do these foods actually help the brain? What do omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates and other foods do to help the brain do its job properly?

Check out the slideshow above to learn more about how your brain actually uses health food. Then check out Feeling Stressed? These 3 Kinds of Food Beat Stress and Anxiety by our friends at StyleList.

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