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Brain is one of the most complex organs in the body. You may find it astounding that the average human utilizes only ten per cent of his/her entire brain capacity. On a day-to-day basis, the working memory is utilized for various purposes. This includes the ability to process new information, and accordingly adapt our responses over short intervals of time. Our brain is always processing information in some way or the other, even when one is asleep.

Degeneration of brain power and function is one of the prominent conditions affecting a majority of the population all over the world. It is thus, not only a benefit but also necessary to keep the functioning of the brain at optimum when there is still time so as to avoid such conditions in the future. This article discusses all the ways and means to help enhance the functioning capacity of the brain.

(Read more: Ways to improve memory)

  1. Foods to increase brain power
  2. Home remedies to increase brain power
  3. Takeaway

Our brain needs several nutrients to maintain its optimum functioning. So, it is essential to eat the right foods to achieve the desired brain function and capacity. That being said, there are several foods that are known to enhance memory and improve the overall brain capacity. Let's have a look at some of them.

Olive oil to increase brain power

Olive oil is an excellent source of polyphenols, which have a function in protecting the brain. A major cause of brain fatigue that ultimately leads to degeneration is oxidative stress. Being rich in antioxidants, olive oil helps improve brain function and reduce the risk of brain health concerns.

Studies have found that the inclusion of olive oil in regular diet reduces the risk of depression and dementia as well.

Additionally, olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties, that can speed up healing and improve overall health.

(Read more: Antioxidant foods)

Fatty fish to increase brain power

Fatty fish contain essential oils with high amounts of omega-3-fatty acids. These healthy unsaturated fats have been found to lower the levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that forms damaging clumps in the brains of people with diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

Consumption of salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish has also been shown to stimulate brain cell growth. Studies have also found such fish to be helpful in improving mood and reducing stress, which, in turn, can improve cognitive ability.

(Read more: 7 foods to improve your mood)

Soybean to increase brain power

Soybean, like tuna and salmon, is also an excellent source of omega-3-fatty acids, which improve brain function and health. It also contains iron in high amounts. Iron is an essential nutrient important for overall health as well as brain function. Deficiency of iron can affect memory, attention span, and learning ability. A diet high in products like tofu and soybean-based protein can help support brain cells, improve memory, increase cognitive function, and assist in learning.

(Read more: Iron deficiency symptoms)

Berries to increase brain power

Berries are rich in flavonoids, the natural pigments that impart characteristic colour to plants. Research shows that flavonoids also help to improve memory. A research study found that consumption of two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week could delay memory decline by up to two and a half year.

In another study, it was suggested that berries are neuroprotective in nature. That is, they protect the brain from age-related neurodegeneration (conditions like memory loss and dementia occur due to this) and improve cognition and motor functions. As per this study, compounds like quercetin, anthocyanins, and caffeic acid present in berries is responsible for this benefit.

Nuts to increase brain power

Nuts, especially almond and walnuts are widely famous as brain foods. Both these nuts are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids that your brain needs. Nuts also contain lean protein that is required to strengthen brain cells and improve cognitive function.

Additionally, almonds and walnuts are great sources of antioxidants, and vitamin E. This vitamin has been found to be a powerful brain protector associated with reducing dementia and Alzheimer’s risk. Studies have found that people consuming a diet rich in vitamin E were able to reduce the risk of such diseases by up to seventy per cent.

A systemic review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition indicated that regular consumption of mixed nuts and specifically walnut has a protective effect on the cognitive functions in people of all ages.

Eggs to increase brain power

Eggs are considered wholesome foods. They are loaded with nutrients and minerals like proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, potassium, zinc and magnesium. All of which are known for their beneficial effects on brain function. 

An important compound present in eggs is choline, an essential component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine present in the brain. Neurotransmitters are compounds that relay messages inside the brain. Acetylcholine is responsible for improving memory and mood.

Eggs also contain cholesterol, the structural component of brain cell membranes. Consumption of eggs can, therefore, strengthen the brain’s cells and structures.

Additionally, eggs are rich in several antioxidants, which contribute to protecting the brain from oxidative stress.

(Read more: Egg white or yolk, which is healthier)

Coconut oil to increase brain power

Coconut oil is utilized for its numerous health-improving aspects and its benefits for brain function are also well known. The fats present in this oil break down into ketones inside the body, which the brain uses as a source of energy.

Coconut is also rich in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, unstable molecular species which can damage brain cells and affect cognition.

Additionally, coconut oil is an excellent source of saturated fat, which has been shown to help improve brain function and protect the brain, along with reducing the risk of neurological disorders.

(Read more: Coconut water benefits)

Leafy green vegetables to increase brain power

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamins, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline. Vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K present in these veggies help reduce free radicals, boost brain power, and improve brain cell health. Folate and lutein assist in strengthening the brain. High levels of potassium and iron also improve brain function and increase oxygenation, protecting the brain, and making it work more efficiently.

Tomatoes to increase brain power

Tomatoes are also believed to increase brain function and improve memory. Research suggests that lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant present in tomatoes could help protect against free radical damage to brain cells that otherwise leads to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Pumpkin seeds to increase brain power

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, which is why they are regarded as good for brain function. Zinc plays a vital role in enhancing memory and thinking skills. Pumpkin seeds are also abundant in magnesium, which is known to counter stress.

Additionally, they contain B complex vitamins and tryptophan, the precursor to the chemical serotonin, which is known to produce a feeling of relaxation.

Loaded with antioxidants, pumpkin seeds aid in reducing free radical damage to the brain and hence reduce the risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

Green and black tea to increase brain power

Tea is a better beverage as compared to coffee when it comes to improving brain power because of its low caffeine content. The caffeine present in tea helps to suppress the activity of a compound called adenosine present inside the brain, in turn enhancing brain function.   

Studies have shown that both green tea and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Both the teas appear to have the same effect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to treat the disease. The effect of green tea is, however, more prominent than black tea as its effect lasts a whole week as compared to black tea which lasts only a day.

Brahmi to increase brain power

Brahmi or Gingko biloba is a herb that has been used as a supplement to increase brain power since early times. It has been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts as a revitalizing agent and a nerve tonic to improve brain functioning. The herb can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating blood vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals. Its antioxidative properties can also help in de-stressing of brain cells.

Additionally, brahmi is suggested to be helpful in reducing stress, anxiety and depression and helpful in the management of epilepsy.

It is, however, important to consult a physician before taking brahmi as a brain-boosting supplement.

Right foods are essential when it comes to improving brain health. However, apart from a proper diet, there are certain habits that individuals must develop and practice to help in boosting memory power. The list of such home remedies that can help in improving brain power has been mentioned below.

Exercise to increase brain power

Exercise strengthens the connections between nerve cells and protects them from damage. This helps your brain to work at optimum capacity. During exercise, nerve cells release specific proteins known as neurotrophic factors. A particular neurotrophic factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) triggers numerous other chemicals that promote better health, and directly benefit cognitive functions, including learning.

Further, exercise provides protective effects to the brain through the production of nerve-protecting compounds, increased blood flow to the brain and improved development and survival of neurons.  

A research study revealed that regular exercise not only improves blood flow to the brain but also increases learning capacity. Further research has shown that exercise boosts mitochondria, organelles that produce energy within every cell of your body, which is suggestive of the fact that exercise may help your brain work faster and more efficiently.

To get the most out of your workouts, a comprehensive program that includes high-intensity exercise, strength training, stretching, and core work is recommended.

(Read more: Exercises and activities to prevent dementia)

Meditation to increase brain power

The benefits of meditation in the various aspects of life are profound. Meditation has also been found to be helpful in increasing brain power. In a recent study, researchers measured the brains of 16 people who had never meditated before, and ushered them into an eight-week meditation program after which their brain activity was measured again.

The program required the individuals to spend an average of 27 minutes a day practising mindful meditation. Tests were done on the people after the program where it was found that there was an increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory, and also in other brain structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

There was also a reduction in the size of the amygdala, the part of the brain which controls anxiety and stress.

Meditation, thus, not only reduces your stress levels but can also improve your brain power and memory. Mindful meditation also delays cognitive decline and prevents neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Furthermore, regular meditation is indicated to be helpful in improving both focus and cognition and effective in the management of depression.

(Read more: Meditation for stress relief)

Proper sleep to increase brain power

Sleep is required to consolidate memory and learning. If you don't get enough sleep, your grey-matter volume in your frontal lobe may begin to decrease. The brain’s frontal lobe supports and controls working memory as well as executive function, making it particularly important.

Studies indicate that people are 33 per cent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas after sleeping, but few realize that their performance has actually improved. Sleep is also known to enhance your memories and help you improve your performance of challenging skills. In fact, a single night of sleeping (only 4 to 6 hours) can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.

(Read more: Sleep chart by age and gender)

Plasticity or the process of growth is believed to determine the brain's capacity to control behaviour, including learning and memory. It occurs when neurons (brain cells) are stimulated by events, or information, from the environment. Sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important to improve plasticity. Sleep, therefore, is an essential component that can help increase brain power.

(Raed more: Effects of sleep on mental health)

Sunlight to increase brain power

Appropriate sunlight helps the body to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain, and researchers have also located metabolic pathways for vitamin D in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, the areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories.

A study done in the USA found that there is an inverse relationship between sunlight exposure and cognitive impairment. That is, those who get less sunlight are more at risk of impaired cognition.

Low sunlight exposure may also negatively affect mood and lead to depression.

There are various ways that can help in achieving enhanced brain functioning. It is important to eat healthy and develop the habit of regular meditation or exercise to achieve the best possible results.

References

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  2. M. Nash, Zahoor A. Shah et al. Current Perspectives on the Beneficial Role of Ginkgo biloba in Neurological and Cerebrovascular Disorders Kevin Integr Med Insights. 2015; 10: 1–9. PMID: 26604665
  3. Zong-mao Chen, Zhi Lin. Tea and human health: biomedical functions of tea active components and current issues* . J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2015 Feb; 16(2): 87–102. PMID: 25644464
  4. Ji Hee Jeong et al. An investigation into the ameliorating effect of black soybean extract on learning and memory impairment with assessment of neuroprotective effects . BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14: 482. PMID: 25496367
  5. Cristina Angeloni et al. Bioactivity of Olive Oil Phenols in Neuroprotection . Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Nov; 18(11): 2230. PMID: 29068387
  6. Ching-I Lin et al. A High-Fructose-High-Coconut Oil Diet Induces Dysregulating Expressions of Hippocampal Leptin and Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase, and Spatial Memory Deficits in Rats . Nutrients. 2017 Jun; 9(6): 619. PMID: 28621759
  7. Subash Selvaraju, et al. Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural regen res. 2014 Aug 15; 9(16): 1557–1566. PMID: 25317174.
  8. Theodore LE, et al. Nut Consumption for Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review. Adv Nutr. 2021 Jun 1;12(3): 777-792. PMID: 33330927.
  9. Kent Shia T, et al. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environ health. 2009; 8: 34. PMID: 19638195.
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