We all experience the effects of cowardly fatigue, but did you know that certain lifestyle choices can help boost your mental strength? A growing body of research in neuroplasty, as neural networks change and grow, offer ways in which we can help our brains function in a healthier and better way. Erin Neela, a neuroscience dietitian at UC Davis Health, shares eating tips to help keep your brain healthy.
Step up your fish intake for brain function
The effect of fish consumption on brain functions has been a popular area of research for decades. Recently, an analysis of more than 7,000 participants in 2020 found that high levels of fish are associated with a slower rate of brain function and mental decline. A separate 2017 study of more than 500 children found that “frequent use of fish was associated with both lower sleep problems and higher IQ scores.”
Try to enjoy two or more servings of omega-3 and low-mercury fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and freshwater trout each week. Experts recommend cooking or frying fish.
Go green with leafy vegetables
It may not be surprising that green leafy vegetables are healthy for your body, but did you know that they are also good for your brain? A 2017 study of 960 middle-aged people found that a decrease in brain function was less common in people who used more of the following.
- phylloquinone (leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage and seaweed)
- lutein (leafy greens, peas and winter squash)
- α-tocopherol (almonds, tomatoes, and leafy greens)
- β-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and cantaloupe)
A separate 2020 analysis found that low vegetable intake is associated with overall brain health and decision making. Try to add extra vegetables to one meal each day, and make them as colorful as possible.
Make it berry beautiful to boost memory
They’re more than just a beautiful food – berries have been found to increase memory and brain function with constant intake, which can potentially delay a decline in mental health. A 2017 study found that older adults who ate blueberries daily had significantly better scores in a variety of cognitive tests after 90 days. Blueberries are especially popular in brain performance research.
There are easy ways to add berries to your breakfast or eat more as a snack. A lot of research uses frozen dried blueberries, so you don’t always have to buy fresh. However, you want to make sure you avoid any extra sugars.