More food for thought
mubus7/Shutterstock What other foods can benefit brain health? Among the best brain foods is salmon, rich in omega-3s. “DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources have been found to be protective to the brain and contribute to improved memory function in older adults,” Palinski-Wade says. In addition, she says foods rich in vitamin C have been shown to reduce the impact of stress hormones, which can have negative effects on the brain. The overall message is to eat whole, healthy foods. “A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in sodium, such as the DASH diet protocol, appears to be beneficial to the brain as it can help to reduce blood pressure, improve vascular health, and provide a diet rich in antioxidants that can be protective to neurons in the brain,” Palinski-Wade says. Don’t miss the other best foods for boosting brain health.
Certain foods are bad for brain health
Mihajlo Ckovric/Shutterstock One ingredient that can be bad for the brain is sugar. Although your noggin needs glucose to function, too much has been shown to have detrimental effects. “Avoiding large amounts of added sugar is also key to brain health,” Palinski-Wade says. “Even in teens, just one soda per day was associated with a decline in test scores.” In addition, too much sugar may accelerate aging of cells, according to Harvard Medical School. Diabetes, a high-glucose disorder, is also associated with negative consequences for brain function and can lead to cognitive difficulties. Here are more of the worst foods for your brain.
Food cravings come from the brain
Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock For anyone who’s ever indulged in comfort food or “emotional eating,” it’s clear that the brain has something to do with the foods we crave. But, it may be more chemical in nature than we realize. “Certain amino acids are responsible for the creation of neurotransmitters in the brain, which impact mood,” Palinski-Wade says. “A depressed mood or high stress levels may trigger your brain to ‘crave’ foods that can produce feel-good chemicals such as serotonin to elevate mood, such as chocolate.” But, cravings may also have psychological ties—other research has found that the pleasant memories and feel-good hormones produced by “comfort foods” leads to a conditioned response of craving them.