No-brainers for the brain

No-brainers for the brain
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Over the past few years, the conversation around food has shifted to ingredients that improve cognition, memory, creativity and motivation. Optimal living aided by ‘nootropic foods is the popular eating mantra for restoring and maintaining brain health. Supplements are giving way to conscious-eating that incorporates nootropic-loaded natural diets, which combine herbs and natural brain force augmenters such as pine pollen, blue algae, spirulina, moringa leaves and coffee. Says Shamshul Wahid, Group Executive Chef, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd, “Simply explained, nootropic foods charge up our cognitive functions and optimise various brain functions, particularly related to memory and attention span.

They are literally food for the brain and regular consumption can lower the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.” He recommends including eggs, turmeric, salmon, dark leafy greens such as broccoli and kale, green tea, blueberries, coffee and dark chocolate in daily diet as natural sources of nootropic food. The stress of everyday work life is consuming lifestyle; not keeping up is the biggest fear of the urbanista. This is where nootropic foods help, say experts. According to Chef Vineet Bahuguna, Hilton Garden Inn, New Delhi, “They target specific cognitive functions and improve overall mental performance and brain health.”

He, however, advises having a wholesome meal to maintain overall mental and physical health. Nootropics have a wide range of natural chemicals that improve the quality of life. For instance, the flavanol in dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain and promote the production of new brain cells. Red wine contains high levels of the resveratrol antioxidant which is an anti-carcinogen. Green tea’s L-Theanine amino acids are stress-busters and regulate brain waves. Coconut oil is a powerful nootropic, which contains medium chain fatty acids that bypass the regular digestive system and are converted into ketones by the liver. Ketones produce a chemical that improves memory and alertness. The choline compound in eggs fuels the information transmission system of the brain and produces acetylcholine that promotes deep sleep and keeps memory fresh.

Blueberries reduce the ageing of the brain. Turmeric helps create fresh brain cells and is used to treat depression, Alzheimer’s and strokes. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and chard send memory-boosting nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin into our system. Nootropics were the Wellness Trend of 2018. Chef Tarun Sibal from One Fine Meal says, “Nootropic food has gained popularity in today’s highly competitive world. In India, people are yet to be aware of their benefits though we consume them on a daily basis.”

10 things to eat

1. Eggs

They contain choline, which the brain converts into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps brain cells communicate and keep memories intact.

2. Turmeric

This Indian spice contains curcumin, which improves memory in those who suffer from mild cases of its loss. Drink a turmeric latte, or as we Indians call it—doodh haldi—before you wrap up for the day.

3. Salmon

The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon improve the brain’s ability to send and receive messages. Make sure to not overcook it, though.

4. Blueberries

This wonder berry contains super-antioxidants called anthocyanins, which boost the signalling and cognitive functions of the brain. Add a handful to your daily smoothies.

5. Dark Chocolate

The flavanols in dark chocolate may help ward off memory loss due to aging. Add it your coffee or even a bite post your lunch can boost energy.

6. Dark leafy greens

Not liked by children, dark leafy greens are a top source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which aid expediting the working of the brain. Make a side of leafy greens with your everyday lunch a routine.

7. Coffee

Experts say that coffee consumption plays a protective role in risk for multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But be sure to have the last cup before 2 pm, so that it doesn’t interfere with sleep.

8. Green Tea

The world today swears by the goodness of green tea. It contains catechin and L-theanine, which promote brain function. And the best part is that it can be had by the potfuls.

9. Extra-virgin olive oil

A Mediterranean-style diet with emphasis on the use of extra-virgin olive oil can improve cognitive function over a period of time. The oil pairs well with other nootropic foods, too.

10. Broccoli sprouts

Another green, it releases sulforaphane that has been effective in alleviating symptoms of depression and autism. It is also one of the easiest ingredients to include in your diet.

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