“We are what we eat”, “May your food be your medicine.” It has been known for a long time that Food plays a much more comprehensive role than satisfying hunger. It is the energy that the body needs to fulfill its functions, the immunity to defend itself against diseases and it is, above all things, what nourishes each cell to carry out its task perfectly.
With the increase in life expectancy, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s became a concern for specialists.
The challenge is not just to live longer. It is to enjoy a longevity with vitality and alertness. And at that point, today it is also known that what we eat can directly affect inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies, which can affect our risk of suffering from these pathologies.
Dr. Uma Naidoo is a nutritional psychiatrist, member of Harvard University School of Medicine, and author of This Is Your Brain on Food (This is your brain according to your food), and assured that he always tells his patients to think of the brain as the brain behind almost everything: our thoughts, memory, concentration, movements, breathing, heartbeat, and that certain foods can help make you stronger, sharper, and smarter.
And he shared the five foods you eat every day to sharpen your memory, concentration, and overall brain health.
1- Extra bitter chocolate
“Extra Bitter Chocolate is packed with antioxidants and cocoa flavonoids that help preserve brain cell health Naidoo told the US network CNBC. It also contains fiber to help reduce brain inflammation and prevent cognitive decline.”.
A study done in 2020 had analyzed how dark chocolate and white chocolate can affect the memory of healthy young adults. Participants who received dark chocolate had better verbal memory performance two hours after consuming the chocolate, compared to the group who received white chocolate.
The researchers suggested that this was due to higher flavonoid content of dark chocolate, “Which can acutely improve cognitive function in humans.”
The extra bitter chocolate must have at least 70% cocoa or more, according to the specialist.
The key, for her, is not to overdo the portions. “A meta-analysis suggests that the optimal amount of dark chocolate consumption for the health of our blood vessels, including those that supply blood to the brain, is approximately 45 grams per week”, He assured.
2- Red fruits
They are a type of fruit characterized by being very fleshy, such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
“Berries are full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals”Naidoo recommended, noting: “These nutrients help retain memory and the fiber content helps feed microbes in the gut to reduce brain inflammation.”
The specialist suggested choosing between a red, blue and black variety.. Strawberries, for example, are rich in flavonoids and can help delay cognitive decline, while blueberries contain different types of flavonoids related to the prevention of oxidative stress and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, which help the health of brain cells.
It is generally advised consume half a cup or a cup per day.
3- Turmeric and black pepper
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is the secret behind its brain-boosting benefits.
“Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance,” explained Naidoo. Consume it, according to studies, can help reduce anxiety symptoms and decrease cognitive decline with age”.
Turmeric is good on its own, but the benefits can be stronger when combined with black pepper.. Naidoo always recommends adding “a pinch of black pepper to turmeric because piperine, the compound in black pepper, activates curcumin and increases bioavailability for the brain and body.”
You can incorporate turmeric and black pepper into your diet by adding it to a plate of rice, a side of potatoes, or a little oatmeal.
4- Leafy vegetables
“Leafy vegetables are a staple in brain-healthy diets because they contain folic acid, which is a B vitamin that supports neurological development and neurotransmitter function.”Naidoo explained, who highlighted that “folate deficiency has been linked to an increase in depression symptoms, as well as cognitive aging.”
The expert listed among her favorite green leafy vegetables arugula, dandelions (radicheta), spinach, chard and watercress.
For those who don’t like to eat them fresh in salad, Naidoo advised adding them as ingredients in their favorite dishes, such as pasta, burritos or as a topping on a pizza.
5- Fermented food
Eating these foods can alter the makeup of the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that inhabit our intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome. Too It can lead to lower levels of inflammation throughout the body, which scientists increasingly link to a variety of aging-related diseases.
“We have what is called a gut-brain connection Naidoo pointed out. So when we eat fermented foods and improve our gut health, we can also improve our cognitive function. “
She likes eating kimchi casero as a snack with celery sticks, or combine it with salads for more texture and flavor. Some other fermented foods that Naidoo recommends are sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, kefir, yogurt.
However, the specialist explained that large amounts of fermented foods can cause bloating, so He recommended incorporating them gradually until the intestine and the body adapt.