Eating the right foods isn’t just important for a healthy body — the latest research suggests that diet can also help boost your brain power.
A study by Boston University revealed that simply choosing the right takeaway — one containing brain-friendly ingredients — could do wonders.
For example, researchers found that a pizza topped with olives, anchovies, and capers contained high levels of polyphenols, natural compounds which are known to increase concentration levels.
Similarly, egg-fried rice was found to be a rich source of choline, a natural chemical that can improve memory.
“We’ve known for some time that the food we eat can directly affect the mental performance of youngsters and adults,” says nutritionist Linda Foster. “It’s all about eating the right foods to fuel your brain and getting enough of the key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to strengthen and protect the areas crucial to memory and concentration.”
“Thankfully,” says Foster, “these ‘brain foods’ are also naturally low in fat and calories and so go hand-in-hand with an effective weight loss plan.” Here’s how to get started:
Work it out
Don’t forget that as well as eating the right foods, exercise helps to keep your mind sharp by boosting blood flow to the brain. In fact, studies suggest that regular physical activity improves cognitive function, slows down mental aging and helps us process information more effectively. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercises — such as fast walking or cycling — every other day.
To keep your blood sugar levels stable and your brain supplied with fuel, aim to eat three meals a day with a couple of healthy snacks in between, picking from the food planner below.
Don’t cut carbs
Our brain must have glucose to function, which it gets from carbohydrates, so it’s crucial you eat sufficient amounts from a healthy source. This means swapping white bread, pasta, and rice for wholegrain, brown varieties. Lack of glucose is why low-carb diets are a no-no if you want to keep your mind sharp.
If your brain doesn’t get enough fluid you’ll feel tired, have poor concentration and suffer headaches. Drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Water is the best but diluted fruit juice, tea, and milk do count.
Keep lunches light
Eating a big meal at lunch — especially with alcohol — can make you feel sleepy in the afternoon. So keep lunches sensibly-sized and booze-free.