Fitness & Fat Loss

10 Brain and Memory Boosting Foods, Herbs, and Supplements

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brain boosting foods and herbsLike the rest of your body, your brain needs nourishment to perform at its peak potential. Not only that but, it is important to protect your brain from degeneration brought about by age and other conditions. So, are there any brain-boosting foods and supplements out there?

The good news is, certain foods, herbs, and compounds can help boost your brain power. Okay, there is no magic pill to turn one into an Einstein, but even a little improvement in mental focus, clarity, and memory recall can go a long way. The bad news is… well, there really is no bad news.

Needless to say, the better your brain can perform, the more successful you can potentially be in virtually every aspect of life.

But how do these foods and compounds work to improve your brain? By potentially boosting neurotransmitters as well as improving the supply of blood and nutrients to the brain.

Certain nutrients have been found to be particularly beneficial to the brain. In fact, lack of certain dietary nutrients has been linked to the development of some mental disorders.[1] Here now are 10 foods and compounds that may help your brain power (not any order):

1. Walnuts: Eating a handful of walnuts – as well as other nuts and seeds – everyday may boost brain performance and memory. A cross-sectional study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging showed that consumption of walnuts may help improve cognitive function in adults, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.[2]

2. Fish: You have probably heard that fish is good for your brain. There is significant scientific evidence to support this. Omega-3 fats are highly concentrated in the brain play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development.[3] These polyunsaturated fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function. A study done at Harvard showed that Omega-3 supplements may help improve learning skills and behavior in school-age children.

3. Phosphatidylserine: Also referred to as phosphatidyl L-Serine, this has been used for the treatment dementia and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly. In fact, the FDA approved “qualified health claim” status for reduction or risk of dementia and cognitive function in the elderly.[4] It has been shown to offer benefits for age-related memory impairment.[5]

4. Blueberries: These antioxidant-packed berries have been found to help protect your brain from oxidative stress as well as improve neural signaling in the brain. Consistent consumption of blueberries (or supplementation) may help mitigate neurodegeneration in older adults.[6]

5. Rhadiola rosea: The term “brain fog” isn’t exactly a medical word. But it is relatively known in the health and wellness circles. It includes lack of focus, forgetfulness, and mental fatigue. This herb has been claimed to help reduce brain fog, although available evidence is mainly anecdotal.

6. Dark chocolate: Flavanols, a key ingredient in dark chocolate, have been found to improve blood flow to the brain. This, in turn, may help increase alertness and performance. An eight week study involving healthy 61 to 85 year olds showed that consuming medium to high amounts of flavanols every day may significantly improve attention, executive function, and memory.[7] Just keep that sugar low while you’re at it, okay?

7. Ginkgo biloba: Many are familiar with ginkgo biloba, also known as maidenhair, and its touted benefits for memory. It has a long history of use in treating brain and blood disorders, and memory issues.[8] Ginkgo contains flavanoids which as menitioned earlier (see dark chocolate above) may improve blood flow to the brain. It also contains terpenoids, which also improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels. Be sure to get high-quality ginkgo biloba supplement as lower quality ones have been linked to certain serious health issues.

8. Avocados: That guacamole can also do your brain good too. Considered a superfood, that the avocado can also help improve your brain is just icing on the cake. They are also rich in healthy monounsaturated fats that may help to keep your brain cell membranes – and actually all your cells – flexible.[9]

9. Acyteyl l-carnitine: Also known as, ALCAR or acetylcarnitine, this amino acid may boost energy levels as well as heart and brain health. It may offer benefits for people with early onset or fast progression of Alzheimer’s.[10] Tests have shown that it may help aged brain function.

10. N-acetyl tyrosine: Also referred to as acetyl-l-tyrosine, l-tyrosine, and tyrosine. It has been used for mood enhancement. Studies indicate the tyrosine supplementation may help cognitive performance during periods of extended wakefulness (read long work or study hours) as well as reduce the effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive task performance.[11][12]

The above foods and compounds can be purchased separately in grocery stores or health stores. However, some brain and memory boosting supplements contain a number of these and other compounds in their ingredients, working synergistically.


References:

[1] PMC: Nutritional therapies for mental disorders

[2] Springer

[3] UMM: Omega-3 fatty acids

[4] Wikipedia: Phosphatidylserine

[5] How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, & Yoga in Mental Health By Richard P. Brown, Patricia L. Gerbarg, Philip R.

[6] PMC: Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults

[7] Harvard: Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain?

[8] UMM: Ginkgo biloba

[9] The Brain Trust Program By Larry McCleary

[10] WebMD: Fortifying Your Memory With Supplements

[11] PubMed

[12] PubMed

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