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Can Healthy Eating Make You Smarter? Here’s What We Know

Tag: eating

Can Healthy Eating Make You Smarter? Here’s What We Know

For the longest time, parents were perfectly happy feeding their kids a whole bowl of sugar-coated cereal soaked in 100% milk with a side of artificially-flavoured orange juice every morning before school. They likewise survived until lunchtime on little else than a mug of coffee and two slices of avocado toast or two sunny-side-up eggs.

The goal wasn’t necessarily mental stimulation or clarity so much as it was “make it ‘til you can get a proper meal in.” A crying shame, to be sure, but very, very few can actually whip up a hearty, filling breakfast that nourishes both the brain and the body when pressed for time.

And besides; is such a thing possible?

 

Smarter Snacking

According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a diet “high in fat, sugars, and processed foods in early childhood may result in lower IQ scores.”

That’s a yikes.

Meanwhile, scientists over at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have learned that levels of lutein – a nutrient present in leafy greens (like spinach and kale) and eggs – may be linked to cognitive performance across our life span, particularly “in the grey matter of brain regions.” It’s basically like an anti-aging compound for the brain.

And speaking of eggs, did you know that they’re also packed with a memory-improving substance known as choline? Meanwhile, salmon and walnuts are over here brimming with essential fatty acids that improve brain function.

So what’s the verdict? Can food really make you smarter?

“Smarter” might be too generic a term. I’m not saying that eating nothing but salmon and eggs for the rest of your life is going to boost your IQ some ten, twenty points. But there is significant evidence that suggests doing so will improve your comprehension and memory capacity (both short-term and long-term retrieval).

Basically, there are some foods that could potentially improve all matters regarding grey matter, and their assertions are all scientifically backed. Here’s a quick list:

    1. Salmon – a great source of that delectable “good kind of fat,” omega-3 fatty acids. Recent research (published around 2017) suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are crucial for improving cognitive functions.

 

    1. Eggs – a delicious-and-nutritious two-for-one, eggs contain high amounts of choline and lutein; two substances linked heavily to memory matters. Lutein helps slow down cognitive decline. Choline, on the other hand, is essential for brain and nervous system functions that include mood, muscle control, and – yep! – memory.

 

    1. Walnuts – touted as a “brain-booster” and “mood-stabilizer,” a decent amount of studies have linked walnuts with improved productivity and problem-solving capabilities. No surprise there, seeing as walnuts also contain high traces of good old omega-3.

 

    1. Spinach, Kale, and Other Leafy Greens – we mentioned spinach and kale in the context of lutein, but did you know that the iron in them can give you a shot of brain clarity?

      Iron is an essential mineral that the body uses to transport oxygen to all systems. If you’re low on oxygen-carrying red blood cells (which will happen if you’re low on iron), you could experience an intense brain fog linked with fatigue.

 

  1. Beets – and on the topic of bringing oxygen to the brain, beets contain specific dietary nitrates; special compounds that can be converted to nitric oxide. Our bodies use nitric oxide to relax our blood vessels and increase blood flow (specifically, oxygen-rich blood) to the brain.It may seem like a stretch, but a 2016 study showed that older adults – aged 60 and up – who drank beetroot juice for six weeks straight experienced significant brain benefits. What’s more, their brains took on similar appearances to those of adults younger than them.

The Verdict?

We are what we eat. If we choose to eat food that could, potentially, improve our grey matter and cognitive functions, who’s going to be upset? Popping a handful of walnuts every day or increasing your spinach intake may not give you tangible or immediate brain-boosting results, but it’s also not going to harm you in any way.

So cook up your salmon and serve it with a side of beets! Even if it doesn’t give you the photographic memory you were looking for, it’s still going to taste (and feel!) pretty darn good.

If you’d like to find out how Hearty Health can help keep you eat well and feel, or find out more about how you can get Hearty Health ready meals direct to you or at your facility, simply call 1300 728 764 or email hello@heartyhealth.com.au