There has always been a link between the foods we take and brain performance. According to scientific research, it has been observed that the relative abundance of certain nutrients is likely to affect cognitive function and brain health in general. It is for this reason that you always hear that “you are what you eat”.
Looking back at evolution and brain, you will notice that brain evolution actually occurred when the Homo erectus appeared, close to 2 million years ago, mainly as a result of the development in mind diet among other factors like adaptations to various ways of getting food.
On the other hand, a decline in cognitive function as you age is partly as a result of genetics but largely influenced by the choices we make as regards to our lifestyle. Having said that, it is quite clear how crucial it is to feed your brain with the right foods. Our main focus in this article is the nootropic diet.
What are Nootropics?
The term Nootropics is derived from two Greek words, Noos and tropos. Noos means mind while tropos means turn. Nootropics, therefore, are natural supplements or drugs that help boost cognitive performance and brain health in general. They help in enhancing memory and learning ability, improving muscle control as well as protecting the brain against physical and chemical injuries.
Feeding your brain with nootropics will thus help in improving processing of information by the brain, concentration, motivation, alertness, creativity, and memory among other cognitive benefits. While these drugs and natural supplements were initially targeted on treating cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, over time, healthy individuals started using them to improve their focus and productivity. As such, they became commonly known as cognitive enhancers or simply “smart drugs”.
Knowing the integral role that the brain plays in memory, analytical thinking, recall and cognitive functioning, observing a healthy lifestyle such as supplementation, getting enough sleep and rest, performing regular workouts, exercising a happy disposition in life and eating a well balanced, nutritious nootropic diet, is critical.
The Best Nootropic Diet Plan for Brain Health
The nootropic diet plan is simply a meal plan aimed at improving mental health and the body in general. The meal plan provides necessary nutrients in abundance to boost brain health and power. The nootropics diet plan has indeed shown a positive impact on brain performance by enhancing focus, attention and clarity among other cognitive functions.
The nootropic diet is basically characterized by high fat, average protein, and low carbohydrates. For optimum results to be realized, whole foods should be carefully selected. This diet plan also focuses on foods that contain macronutrients. Before consuming any of the foods, the nutrient ratio must be taken into consideration to avoid consuming some nutrients in excess and as a result ruining your objectives.
What to Eat to Maximize Cognitive Performance?
Although vegetables plays a critical role in improving the overall body health, not all have the right nutritional ratio to fall under the nootropic foods category. It is therefore crucial that you choose the right vegetables to include in your nootropic diet, bearing in mind that carbohydrate count matters a lot when it comes to brain health and cognitive function.
While it is allowed to take more natural carbohydrates, processed carbs or trans-fats are completely disallowed in the nootropic diet.
Vegetables are basically good sources of such nutrients as vitamins and minerals which are crucial for optimal nutrition. However, some of the vegetables contain carbohydrates not recommended hence the need to carefully learn how to balance the nutrients so as to sustain the diet plan. In short, the best choice would be choosing vegetables highly rich in nutrients but low in carbohydrates.
Some of the best vegetables to consider in the nootropic diet plan include:
- Green leafy vegetables
These are the best nootropic vegetable option you should consider. They contain a very low amount of carbohydrates hence no worries about extra carbs or calories in the body. Besides, these vegetables are highly nutritious and healthy. They contain vitamins A, K, C, magnesium, calcium and iron to support vision and eyesight, prevent inflammation and boost blood clotting.
In addition, the vegetables contain antioxidants to promote weight loss and are highly rich in fiber to boost gut health and digestion.
Some of the green leafy vegetables recommended for you include:
- Collard greens
- Swiss Chards
- Bok choy
- Cruciferous vegetables
These are vegetables belonging to the cabbage family. They are also a perfect choice to consider in the nootropic diet. They contain low carbs content but a highly nutritious. They provide the body with crucial vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals. These vegetable are known to enhance brain health and cognitive function.
The veggies are also known to reduce risk of such diseases as diabetes, heart disease cancer and stress among others.
Some of the cruciferous vegetables recommended for you include:
- Green cabbage
Other vegetables not listed under green leafy and cruciferous types but recommended while filling the nootropics diet include:
- Summer squash
- Green beans
- Bell pepper
While vegetables form a crucial part of the nootropic diet, some vegetables need to be consumed in limited amounts or if possible, completely done away with. Essentially, these should include vegetables highly rich in carbohydrates.
Most of these usually have bright colors and sweet in taste because of the high sugar content in them. These foods should therefore be excluded from your nootropic diet plan.
2. Green tea
Green tea is a great option for nootropic diet since it offers some immediate benefit. It usually contains caffeine and theanine, two crucial compounds that work synergistically to improve alertness, focus and calmness. This is therefore a great brain food for busy executive and creative professionals who usually need their brain to work to the optimum when handling various issues.
Taking green tea will therefore ensure you are alert and that you concentrate while maintaining your calmness. Presence of theanine is also important to prevent possible side effects resulting from over-consumption of caffeine.
Green tea also contains catechins which are flavonoids believed to help in promoting general well being when taken on a regular basis.
A good example is whereby antioxidant action of catechins helps in preventing death of neural cells caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, catechins are used to reduce the LDL in the body basically known to be bad cholesterol.
According to a research conducted to look into the relationship between consumption of green tea and heart disease, it was noted that green tea has favorable effects on cardio vascular disease risk factors. For this reason, green tea seems to offer a great alternative to common sugary drinks including coffee.
Start by taking at least one cup of green tea as you continue adding once you get used with the taste as your body gets supplied with enough caffeine and theanine for various health benefits.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has hit the market running, thanks to the many health benefits I is associated with. Coconut oil is highly rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are saturated fats directly used by your body cells for energy. In short, coconut oil does not need any processing before it is used and never requires energy for it to be absorbed. The oil goes directly to the liver to be converted into ketones that are in turn used by the body cells for energy.
This energy in turn helps in optimizing brain performance. Taking the MCTs therefore serves as a good source of fuel to your brain cells. On the other hand, the MCTs are used to help in fat oxidation and cholesterol control as well as boosting the immune system function among several other benefits.
For the longest time, coffee has been known as an incredible natural nootropic perking you up as quickly as possible without any hangover to be worried about. This being the case, you need to ensure that high quality ground coffee is an integral part of your morning to stimulate the brain and central nervous system. Apart from providing a caffeine boost, there are several other benefits associated with drinking fresh ground coffee on a daily basis.
To start with, coffee is known to be highly rich in antioxidants with chlorogenic acid being the most impressive. The antioxidant is used in effectively reducing oxidative damage of the cells as well as getting rid of free radicals from the bloodstream.
Other revelations indicate that coffee can be great for fat oxidation and maintenance of optimum blood sugar levels. This actually explains the reason why many of the sports supplements contain chlorogenic acid.
Although there are some claims that coffee consumption has some incidences of cancer among other diseases, the links are very weak and still undergoing further evaluation. So far, the potential benefits of coffee overweight the dangers provided your consumption is not exceedingly ridiculous. In such a case, a single dosage of about 200-400mg per day is considered safe and enough to boost brain health.
5. Fish oils
Fish oils are rich in DHA acid and EPA (both are types of omega-3 fatty acids). The two fatty acids have been associated with various health benefits including improving brain health. On one end, DHA is responsible for maintenance of the structure and function of the brain accounting for about 90% of omega 3 and about 25% of the total fat found in the brain cells.
Consumption of fish oils therefore helps to boost memory, and thinking skills.
On the other hand EPA has been linked to improving brain function by boosting mood especially in case of depression. Together, the two fatty acids help have been shown to help prevent further decline in brain health and function resulting from advanced age. Eating at least two portions of oily fish per week is perfect to get the required amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Taking a supplement could also be beneficial.
This is a type of antioxidant found naturally in the skin of red and purple fruits like grapes, blueberries and raspberries as well as peanuts and red wine.
Resveratrol supplements have been linked to preventing issues associated with memory loss by preventing deterioration of the hippocampus especially as you get older.
Other studies have also revealed that resveratrol can boost brain function and improve memory.
This is a natural substance responsible for energy metabolism. It is naturally found in the body especially the muscles and brain in small amounts. This supplement can also be found in some foods like meat fish and eggs.
Creatine is also associated with improving thinking skills as well as memory even in people who are vegetarians.
Nootropics are gaining popularity over time, thanks to their cognitive effects. Many of the supplements and natural foods are highly beneficial in preventing decline in memory, increasing motivation, focus, attention and learning abilities among other cognitive functions.
According to researchers, nootropics work by increasing the production and uptake of neuro-transmitters that in turn help to increase cognitive function, reduce stress and anxiety as well as improve on mood. There is no doubt, what you eat directly, in one way or the other, affects, not only body health but also brain health and cognitive function.
Taking the various foods in the right portions i.e. proteins, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and complex carbs among others will definitely boost your brain power and cognitive function. Nuts, coffee, dark chocolate, berries, fish and vegetables have all been proved to be great options when it comes to selecting the right nootropic diet to boost brain health. Foods rich in choline and glutamate such as liver, milk, pork, peanuts, eggs, legumes, cabbage, chicken, and nuts have also proven to help in improving memory and motor control.
Most of the foods and supplements highlighted above have proven to help in improving and protecting brain health.
However, it is recommended to first try the natural foods before opting for the supplements that are mainly recommended and effective for people who have experienced mental conditions are suffer deficiency of the supplement nutrients.
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