The food you choose to eat doesn’t just affect your stomach, but your brain as well. The brain is an organ that is very draining for your body and heavily dependent on certain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (which repair damaged brain cells and even create new ones), and antioxidants (minimize cell inflammation or stress). Did you know that 20 percent of the body’s calories are burned by the brain? A balanced and healthy diet will allow your brain to remain strong while also aiding in short and long-term memory. Taking proper care of your brain by putting healthy food into your body is one of the best ways to ensure that you are not only alert and successful during school, but also for many years to come.
Foods that contain soy are loaded with a group of antioxidants that are called polyphenols. These antioxidants have been known to decrease dementia risk as well as increase cognitive abilities in those who were observed. The polyphenols found in soy products help us immensely because they provide a wide variety of benefits for our overall physical and mental health and wellbeing. Soymilk, for example, is an excellent source of protein and Vitamin B and it works well in place of regular whole milk, particularly for those who are sensitive to dairy.
Green vegetables are great for brain health! Did you know that kale is often referred to as a “superfood?” This title was won because kale contains many important antioxidants, essential vitamins, and minerals. Kale is also a source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and plays a big part in lowering high cholesterol. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods that exists in any food group and an asset for anyone who wants to stay healthy and improve their memory.
Broccoli has a variety of health benefits; it is low in calories and high in fiber. Broccoli is also good brain food! This vegetable contains compounds called glucosinolates, and when these compounds are broken up within the body, the compound they release can minimize the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Broccoli is also rich in Vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system, and flavonoids which can support a healthier brain. Flavonoids protect the neurons within the brain from becoming damaged, suppress inflammation, and also strengthen long-term memory, learning, and cognitive function.
Eggs are a good source of Vitamin B, specifically Vitamin B-6 and Vitamin B-12. They also contain folic acid, which is known to slow down the decline of memory and cognitive abilities as the brain ages. Eggs contain choline as well which helps stabilize mood and memory and also increase long-term retention. Eggs are a great way to start your morning off right and prepare for a long day of learning.
Also referred to as legumes, peanuts are a very healthy snack choice. They contain unsaturated fats and protein which help regulate energy levels and keep us upbeat for extended periods of time as opposed to the short burst many unhealthy snacks offer. Peanuts have important vitamins and minerals that are essential to brain health, Vitamin E, for one. They also contain an antioxidant called resveratrol. There is some evidence that points to this antioxidant aiding in the prevention of certain neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Another source of unsaturated fat, these also help the brain. Avocados and other monounsaturated fats may reduce blood pressure, and since high blood pressure is tied to mental decline, this is a very smart food choice. A study conducted in 2012 found that monounsaturated fatty acids help protect glial cells (astrocytes), which support the information-carrying nerves. Avocados are the perfect healthy snack to boost your energy and boost your brain as well.
Coffee & Other Caffeine
The caffeine in coffee promotes focus by blocking adenosine, a substance found in the brain that causes us to get tired. Not only does coffee help us stay alert, but it also may be linked to the increase of the processing of information in the brain. Caffeine causes the entropy in our brains to rise, which means that the brain is able to take in and sort through much more information than normal and more quickly as well.
Like peanuts, whole grain foods are rich in Vitamin E, which is essential for the brain. Something as simple as swapping out the white bread for whole-grain bread will make all the difference in your overall brain health. Some other whole-grain-rich foods that you can add to your diet are brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain pasta. Making sure that your diet includes plenty of whole grains will allow your brain to reap the benefits of Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that protects cells from taking on any damage.
Seeds & Nuts
Nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. It has been proven that a higher consumption of nuts and seeds is linked to better brain function in the long-term. They also contain Vitamin E, which aids the brain in avoiding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. If you’re looking for a quick snack that is high in Vitamin E, try sunflower seeds, almonds, or even hazelnuts for a change.
The antioxidants found in berries can heed many positive results for the brain. They have been known to improve cellular communication, reduce inflammation, strengthen long-term memory, and prevent or delay neurodegenerative diseases. There are so many options when it comes to berries that can increase the health of your brain. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and mulberries are some of the most antioxidant-rich berries on the market.
Cacao is very good for the brain. It is said to encourage neuron and blood vessel growth, specifically in the areas of your brain that facilitate memory and learning. Cacao may also encourage better blood flow within the brain. In 2018, researchers conducted a study that showcases the positive effects of dark chocolate on the brain. Researchers found that dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao may increase plasticity in the brain. This is essential when it comes to learning and also has many other benefits for the brain overall.
The omega-3s found in oily fish help strengthen the structure of the cells in the brain (neurons). People with higher levels of omega-3s were found to have better blood flow within the brain. It was also found that omega-3s assist with thinking and overall cognition. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are great examples of oily fish that are rich in omega-3s and a nice addition to any balanced diet.
Homeschooling can already be quite draining as it is, a poor diet on top of that is not good. As noted before, your brain burns 20 percent of your body’s calories. This is why it is very important to make sure your brain is getting everything it needs; so you don’t become fatigued. Your brain needs certain nutrients and antioxidants in order to thrive. Taking the time and making the effort to stock up on some of these essential brain foods and snacks will leave you feeling energized, more alert, and even improve your memory.