Brain Foods: Fact or Fiction? 4 Foods and if They Really Stimulate the Mind
Are you wary of food related scams out there? If so you aren’t alone. It’s not new news that food and supplement companies try to cash in on scams that they slink by the FDA. Superfood, diet pills, GMOs, organic — some are real, but many are fake, fake, fake.
One such potential scam (though it’s more like an idea other scams take advantage of instead of a single entity making profit on one thing) is that certain foods boost brain power. A more apt term might be “an old wive’s tale” — that eating certain foods or certain meals at certain times helps your brain synapses fire faster.
Some of these myths are actually backed up by science, like eating breakfast improves your ability to think throughout the day. Other food myths are just that: myths.
Have you ever heard fish touted as a brain food? Fish oil pills are often labeled as brain-boosting, and fish is already supposed to have a ton of health benefits…but does it really help your mind?
The reason some fish like salmon and mackerel are so beneficial to your brain is that they contain large amounts of omega fatty acids. These acids can’t be manufactured by the body on its own, so supplementing your own supply via fish stimulates the mind.
While not a myth, it’s believed that energy drinks, coffee and soda help keep your mind awake and alert as much as they keep your body up and running. Thus you see graveyard shift workers slam energy shots to stay awake and workers stopping by Starbucks to get their morning fix.
While these drinks do keep your body running and cause heart palpitations, they don’t actually make your mind sharper. All they do is keep it running.
You may not have known that eggs were brain food, but indeed they are. The reason? Eggs contain lots and lots of choline, which is the precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because this neurotransmitter is so important, eggs help to stimulate your body’s brain functions.
Eggs also contain large amounts of cholesterol. While in large quantities cholesterol is dangerous, it’s also necessary for brain cell membrane formation. Having an egg every day for breakfast is beneficial to your overall brain health.
Your parents may have pushed broccoli on you as a kid, whether you liked it or not. In fact, it’s one of the poster foods for health while simultaneously having a reputation for being gross.
All that pushing was good for you, though. When it comes to your brain, broccoli is filled with Vitamin K, a nutrient closely associated with how your mind functions. By supplementing your body with foods rich in Vitamin K, you improve your brainpower. Another important aspect of broccoli? It contains glucosinolates, which help to slow the breakdown of acetylcholine (which you’ll remember from the egg section above).
The most important lesson to learn is to stay informed. From here, look up credible sources for information on your food. You are what you eat, and you don’t want to be fed anymore lies.