7 Brain Foods That Improve Concentration
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Diet can help improve the cognitive function of the brain. A prominent research study from 2010 (Brain Foods: The Effects of Nutrients on Brain Function; you can look it up on the NIH website) stated in its conclusion, "We now know that particular nutrients influence cognition by acting on molecular systems or cellular processes that are vital for maintaining cognitive function... the slow and imperceptible cognitive decay that characterizes normal aging is within the range-of-action of brain foods, such that successful aging is an achievable goal for dietary therapies. The capacity of diet to modulate cognitive abilities might have even longer-term implications in light of recent studies that imply that nutritional effects might be transmitted over generations..." The most recent research backs up these findings, indicating a link between what a person eats and how his or her brain functions.

The nutrients in food can affect cognitive abilities like attention, perception, memory, reasoning, planning, decision-making, and problem solving. For example, vitamin B1 is important for the brain, as are omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. Antioxidants protect the brain by boosting immunity and fighting the damage that could be caused by free radicals in the body. But don’t rush off to buy those supplements and over-the-counter pills just yet. You need not lose your mind over what to eat for your brain’s health. You can help it achieve optimal health by including the right foods in your weekly meal and snack plan. (We’re kidding; we know you don’t plan your snacks; they "just happen.") Here are seven simple foods that will keep your brain hale and hearty:

1)    Fish 

We mentioned omega-3, so this one’s an easy guess. Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for your brain’s health. Studies show that people with higher omega-3 levels had increased blood flow in the brain. Salmon is the best pick; it is rich in vitamin B1, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and several other micronutrients. Other fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines are also good substitutes if you are unable to add salmon to your diet.

2)    Nuts and Seeds 

Vegetarians can get their omega-3s from soybeans, flax seeds, and nuts. A study in 2014 found that consuming more nuts in old age was linked to better brain function. The omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds boost immunity and improve cognitive function. This is useful because oxidative stress increases as the body ages. They also provide vitamin E, which is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

3)    Whole Grains 

That’s right, you need to eat more whole grains like whole wheat bread, barley, whole wheat pasta, oats, and daliya (bulgur wheat). Whole grains are a great source of vitamin E, which helps improve brain functions, as well as B vitamins, which can reduce inflammation in the brain.

4)    Eggs 

Eggs are awesome, and we can’t emphasize this enough. They are rich in vitamins B, E, and D. We’ve already mentioned the benefits of vitamins E and B. Recent research indicates that vitamin D helps protect the neurons in the brain, and a deficiency in this vitamin could affect "a type of brain "scaffolding" that supports the neurons." Eggs are rich in all three vitamins, making them a great inclusion for brain health. So, get your various omelet and scrambled egg recipes in order; they're some of the tastiest ways to keep your brain in good working order for a lifetime.

5)    Avocados 

Avocado, the wonder fruit, is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids. These nutrients are known to help increase blood flow to the brain, which is always a good thing. Monounsaturated fatty acids assist in the protection of glial cells (a type of cell that holds nerve cells in place and helps them work the way they should) in the brain called astrocytes, which provide support to the information-carrying nerves.

Avocados also help with the absorption of antioxidants, which are important for protecting against the damage that can be caused by free radicals in the body. This fruit is also a great source of vitamin E and vitamin K. Studies have shown that higher levels of vitamin K are associated with slower cognitive decline and higher cognitive function in elders. There are indications that avocados also help protect the brain against strokes.

6)    Blueberries 

Blueberries are a superfood. They are rich in flavonoids, or natural plant pigments, which have antioxidant properties. These help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. The nutrients in blueberries improve communication between the neurons in the brain and are also believed to enhance memory and other cognitive functions. They contain nutrients that can increase the plasticity of the brain, helping your biggest organ form new connections and boost learning and memory. Blueberries can slow down cognitive decline and ward off strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

7)    Coffee 

According to Harvard Medical School, a 2014 study showed that participants with "with higher caffeine consumption scored better on tests of mental function." And it's not merely a short-term boost in mental concentration that caffeine offers. Research at Johns Hopkins University showed strong indications that caffeine could help "solidify new memories." Participants in the study were asked to look at images and then ingest either a placebo or a 200-mg caffeine tablet. The study concluded that more members of the caffeine group correctly identified the images the next day.