Before you indulge in that high-calorie, fast food meal, here’s some food for thought: Did you know that the food you eat can negatively impact your memory and increase your likelihood of developing dementia later in life?
The phrase “you are what you eat” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to your brain.
Take a T-bone steak, for example, which is loaded with saturated fat. This can raise your blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. What does this mean?
According to research at Harvard Medical School, LDL cholesterol is not only bad for your heart and damaging to your arteries, but it can also negatively affect your brain. Foods high in cholesterol can accelerate the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in your brain, which can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet of foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients can help protect your brain from damage and support memory and development.
A healthy diet is not only important for adults and the elderly, it’s also incredibly important for the growth and development of children.
Below, we’ve outlined seven foods you should add to your grocery list to keep your brain in peak working condition and help your kids develop healthy eating habits.
When we talk about avoiding fatty foods, we mean saturated fat and not the good kind of fat. At the top of the list of brain foods are fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and trout. These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain uses to build brain and nerve cells. This type of fat is essential for memory and learning, and it can also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Look for sustainability sourced and clean fish. Check out this Clean Eating Buyers Guide to Seafood for more information.
Tumeric, the main ingredient in curry powder, serves many benefits. Research shows that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can cross the blood-brain barrier and benefit your brain cells. What does this mean? Essentially, curcumin has been linked to:
Deeply-colored berries like blueberries deliver anthocyanins, which is a group of plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These effects can act against inflammation and oxidative stress, conditions that often contribute to neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging. Studies have also shown that blueberries can even prevent memory loss.
Broccoli is another brain food packed with antioxidants and other powerful plant compounds. It also delivers more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, which is known to improve memory.
Even when you are upholding a healthy diet, it’s important to treat yourself from time to time. Treat yourself to some dark chocolate, another food that is packed with brain-boosting compounds like caffeine, antioxidants, and flavonoids. Flavonoids gather in the areas of the brain that deal with memory and learning. One study pinpointed that people who ate dark chocolate more frequently than those who didn’t performed better in mental tasks involving memory.
Another brain food that contains powerful antioxidants is pumpkin seeds. These seeds are also a great source of iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper, which are each important for brain health.
According to several studies, foods high in vitamin C are a key factor in preventing mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Did you know that by eating one medium orange, you can get all the vitamin C you need in a day?
Foods rich in vitamin C can also act as a powerful antioxidant that fights off the free radicals that damage brain cells. Other brain superfoods rich in vitamin C include:
A healthy diet is not the only way to help prevent memory loss. Follow these recommendations to keep your brain sharp:
Your brain is the control center of your body, allowing you to move, feel, and think. As such, it’s critical to “exercise your brain” just as you would exercise your body.
Brain games can be hugely beneficial in training your brain’s cognitive function to improve concentration, memory, and lower your risk for developing neurological diseases.
Make the most of your screen time by downloading some of these brain-boosting apps:
Whether you are working from home while homeschooling your kids or just in need of some fresh ideas, here are a few productive games to stimulate your kids’ minds.
Offer blocks of different colors and sizes to your toddler and let their imagination run wild!
Most suitable for babies and young toddlers, sensory bins are an excellent way to let your child explore different shapes, textures, and objects. Grab plastic bins or large bowls and fill them with water and various toys or other age-safe items like rice, cotton balls, loofas, uncooked pasta noodles, and more. Get creative with the objects and let your child scoop and move items around freely.
Nesting and Stacking Toys
Nesting toys are an easy way to help develop your little one’s fine motor skills, including their balance, coordination, pre-math skills, and visual perception. For younger babies, start with stacking rings then upgrade to stacking toys.
“I Spy…” or “Simon Says” Games
While simple, these games are an excellent way to boost brain development in your child by showing them how to follow instructions and pay attention to detail. These games are also great for helping your child develop language and increase their spatial awareness.
A scavenger hunt is similar to a game of “I Spy…” but is more hands-on and can easily entertain your kids for hours. Scavenger hunts can also be customized for your child’s age. Give your kids a little outdoor time and have them find the following items:
Puzzles are another easily customizable activity for your child’s age and they are fun for the whole family. Puzzles can help develop your child’s spatial perception, problem-solving, coordination, cognitive skills, and fine motor skills.
For more kid-friendly brain games, download our free Activity Book!
There are many foods and activities that will help keep your brain healthy, but it’s up to you to stay on top of it. By strategically incorporating healthy brain food in your diet and spending some of your free time challenging your mind, you can improve your memory and lower your risk of mental decline later in life.