What is the Best 'Brain Food'?

17 July 2017

Lab Chat

“Eat your fish, it’s brain food.” That’s what they told us as kids – but is it true? Food can have a range of effects on our body – increasing energy, helping certain organs function and, of course, causing more fat to be stored. And when it comes to boosting the brain, there are certain foods which are better than others. Read on to see what you should be eating to help your brain go the extra mile.

The most important meal of the day

Everyone knows how important it is to eat breakfast. It has cognitive, physical and metabolic benefits. The first meal of the day can be even more effective, however, if you choose foods with a low-glycaemic index (GI). GI grades foods by how fast the body breaks them down into glucose, so low GI foods are those which are broken down slowly. They release energy slowly and steadily throughout the day, making them a favourable breakfast compared to high GI options which cause an early peak in cognitive function.

Watering your brain

As well as brain food, it’s important to stay hydrated. Dehydration has been proven to impair cognitive function, with water the best way to avoid it. Sugary drinks might seem the most appealing option, but their high GI level will have an adverse effect on your brain through the day.

How about coffee? People often drink it before examinations and interviews because the caffeine is thought to improve cognitive ability. Indeed, it does – but this comes with a warning. Too much caffeine has a range of side effects for your body – such as headaches, dizziness, thirst and irritability – as well as affecting your concentration.

Long term gains

The above recommendations are great for short term brain function, but how about the long run? It might pain some fussy eaters to hear it, but science agrees with the most parents. Fish really is a great ‘brain food’. The high levels of omega 3 fats have been proven to improve brain function, keeping your grey matter in working order for longer and helping you avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Other ways of boosting your brain

It’s not just your diet you need to consider when you want your brain to be at its best. Exercise is also important. Why? Getting the blood flowing around your body has been shown to increase cognitive function. In particular, experts have suggested that aerobic exercise is best for the brain. Also referred to as cardio, exercise like running, swimming and cycling allows you to consistently increase blood flow and oxygen intake. So, as well as eating healthier, it seems living healthier can help make your brain stronger too.

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