Is brain food a myth?

Food, especially food that affects your brain and cognitive functioning, is one of the more confounding aspects of healthy living because of a mix of contradicting studies.

Just as there is no magic pill to prevent cognitive decline, no single food can ensure a sharp brain as you age.

Staying alert and healthy throughout your life is a goal well worth pursuing, but you must be aware of misinformation about ways to accomplish this.

Nutritionists emphasise that the most important strategy is to follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Try to get protein from plant sources and fish and cook with healthy fats, such as olive oil, rather than saturated fats.

There is some truth to the link between certain foods and their positive effect on the brain. But this usually doesn’t require you to purchase some magic superfood and eat nothing else. It is usually about keeping a nutritious balanced diet.

Certain foods are particularly rich in healthy components such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants, which are known to support brain health.

These foods can provide energy, strengthen neural connections and block destructive free radicals.

For example, omega-3 is found in fish and essential amino acids can come from meat, quinoa or a combination of beans and rice.

Less divorced from reality is an expectation that you will incredibly boost your intelligence as a result of eating certain foods.

Increasing your fish intake is not going to turn you into a genius within a week. It takes a while for any changes to occur and they have to be supported by a well-balanced diet.

The good news is that foods that are good for your brain are also good for your heart health.

This is because good blood flow is crucial to cognitive function.

Black beans, for example, are great for your heart and your brain.

Researchers studying diabetes found that “incorporation of legumes as part of a low-GI diet improved both glycemic control and reduced calculated chronic heart disease”.

Black beans are also a great source of magnesium, which can help stave off dementia, according to a different study.

You should research any claims that you read regarding food, as often the claims are over-inflated. Eating broccoli is often associated with an improved memory and strong cognitive abilities, but you are not going to establish a photographic memory just by eating more of it.

Related articles:
Seven ways to train your brain
Five ways to get your fill of fish
Foods to keep your brain healthy

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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