Having learnt about what superfoods could do in restoring my health, I began to research into which superfoods could help in boosting our daughter’s cognitive abilities who was born more or less with cerebral palsy and grew up mentally challenged. These findings will also help everyone with lifestyle and poor food habits that could lead to degenerative diseases, keeping away unwelcome conditions like Alzheimer and Parkinson’s in older years which afflicts many in the society. The following sources of reference are acknowledged:
1. HuffPost Healthy Living
2. www.bbcgoodfood.comby Jo Lewin, Associate Nutritionist
3. WEB MD
First from HuffPost Healthy Living:
Walnuts are chock-full of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are the only good nut source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), That means they help promote blood flow, which in turn allows for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to actually slow brain aging.
Animal studies have long indicated a link between berry consumption and brain health. But a recent study published in the Annals of Neurology found that a diet high in blueberries, strawberries and others were linked to a slower mental decline in areas like memory and focus in a large sample of middle-aged women, reportedTIME‘s Alice Park.
Fatty fish like sardines (and salmon!) are a well-known brain booster, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which have been linked to lower risk of dementia, improved focus and memory.
Caffeine, the mild stimulant found in coffee, improves mental acuity. Aside from caffeine’s brain boosting effects, coffee’s antioxidant richness helps maintain brain health. And some research suggests that drinking coffee can actually stave off depression in women.
Spinach is rich in the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help protect against cognitive decline, according to researchers from Tufts University. And a longitudinal study at Harvard Medical School found that women who reported eating the most leafy green and cruciferous vegetables had a markedly lower rate of cognitive decline, compared to those who ate the least.
Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is healthy for your whole body, but its caffeine content is thought to play a role in maintaining mental acuity. What’s more, chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidant that helps to improve blood flow (and thus brain health) by regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that improve vascular health and blood flow, making them another brain food.
9. Water (e.g. natural spring water)
When a person becomes dehydrated, their brain tissue actually shrinks. And several studies have shown that dehydration can affect cognitive function. Dehydration can impair short-term memory, focus and decision making, according to Psychology Today.
10. Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is a rich vegetarian source of choline — a nutrient that is involved in the body’s production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that boosts memory, according to Shape. Eggs are another good choline source.
Beets are a good source of naturally-occurring nitrates, which help improve blood flow to the brain, according to Shape.
Garlic may help stave off some forms of brain cancer, according to research published in Cancer, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society. Investigators found that the organo-sulfur compounds in garlic actually worked to kill glioblastoma cells — a type of malignant tumor cell.
From www.bbcgoodfood.com, their suggestions corroborate what HuffPost suggests:
1. Opt for wholegrains
Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from the adequate, steady supply of energy – in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Achieve this by choosing wholegrains with a low-GI, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Opt for ‘brown’ cereals, wheatbran, granary bread and brown pasta.
2. Eat Oily Fish
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish as EPA and DHA. Good sources include linseed (flaxseed) oil, soya bean oil, pumpkin seeds, walnut oil and soya beans. They are good for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and general wellbeing. Oily fish contains EPA and DHA in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
3. Binge on blueberries
Evidence accumulated at Tufts University in the United States suggests that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss. Widely available, so there’s no excuse.
4. Eat more tomatoes
There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
5. Add vitality with vitamins
Certain B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. A study of a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment found that after two years of intervention with high doses of B6, B12 and folic acid there was significantly less brain shrinkage compared to a subset given placebo treatment.
6. Get a blackcurrant boost
Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility. One of the best sources of this vital vitamin are blackcurrants.
7. Pick up pumpkin seeds
Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.
8. Bet on broccoli
A great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.
9. Sprinkle on sage
Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory and although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, it could be worth adding fresh sage to your diet too.
10. Go nuts
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice and wholegrains.
WEB MD adds that everyone should Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain.
Wild salmon. Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function, says Kulze. Both she and Pratt recommend wild salmon for its “cleanliness” and the fact that it is in plentiful supply. Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory substances. Other oily fish that provide the benefits of omega-3s are sardines and herring, says Kulze; she recommends a 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week.
Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, says Pratt, explaining that higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts.
Avocados. Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health, says Pratt. “I don’t think the avocado gets its due,” agrees Kulze. True, the avocado is a fatty fruit, but, says Kulze, it’s a monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. “And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain,” she says. Avocados also lower blood pressure, says Pratt, and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health. Avocados are high in calories, however, so Kulze suggests adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish.
Vitamins and Minerals for more Brain Power
Most of the foods, minerals and vitamins have been discussed in this article and in earlier ones. And I have already tried some vitamins in the past on long term therapeutic bases. The superfoods and minerals I take will be very helpful my the family. Other specific choices will be discussed in future articles, The healing Value of Vitamins, Enzymes, Antioxidants and Herbs.
Answer to the following questions concerning the food we Eat
Q1 What is your view on the processed food or chemical food which we find in our stores? Has it changed as a result of this lesson? Will it change your shopping habits in any way? If so, how?
Processed foods in the stores are certainly not as healthy as fresh foods. They are all dead food including the fruits and vegetables. The shelf life of the products further degrades them so that when we take them they at best sustain life (at a poor level) but do not nourish our bodies to make us feel vitalized..
Q2 Do you think there is a place for adding superfoods to one’s diet if they cannot eat natural unprocessed foods?
Superfoods in form of vitamins and nutrients are appropriate as a substitute for those who because of their lifestyle or preference cannot take the time to prepare for themselves home natural foods. As for the various vegetables and fruits that are generally classified as superfoods, this has been adequately covered in the body of this and previous lessons.
Q3 Will your lifestyle allow you to go back to natural foods or would you prefer adding superfoods, vitamins and antioxidants and herbs to your diets. Which is more workable with your life and schedule?
My lifestyle allows me to prepare natural foods. I am also adding superfoods, vitamins and antioxidant herbs to get the best of both worlds.