Can Food Really Make You Smarter?

We’ve heard a lot about the increase in certain degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s and notably Alzheimer’s, which is characterized by a loss of neural and synaptic activity in the cerebral cortex, the thin outer layer of the brain. Many have surmised that the onset of these diseases are uncontrollable and expected given certain genetic precursors. Are we really going to give this issue up to genetic predisposition? No way!  Although our genes do play a role, there are certain foods we can intake regularly that will help to keep the brain fueled and running at an optimum level.

The best way to look at this is to first examine the brain itself!  Did you know that over 75% of the human brain is composed primarily of fat?  And the fatty acids from fat are what your brain uses to create the specialized cells that allow you to think and feel.  So what does this mean?  It means you need to eat some fat!  Let’s check out a few healthy fat food sources:

1. Fatty fish like Salmon, Tuna and Trout.  Try to incorporate 4-6 oz. servings of fish 2-3 times a week. Why?  These fatty fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which, with regular consumption, help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and depression. Makes sense doesn’t it?  If our moods and emotions are regulated by the brain, which is over 75% fat, and if we partake in an otherwise low-fat diet, we starve the brain of what it needs to operate efficiently!

2. The amazing green fruit called the Avocado.  That’s right, the avocado isn’t a vegetable at all, but a fruit!  How do we know this? Because there’s a big ol’ seed in the middle of it!  Avocados are rich in essential monounsaturated fats which help regulate blood pressure and hypertension. The Avocado also has a diverse nutrient profile: Vitamin A, C, E, K, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and a few other good ones. It’s also good to note that this glorious God-given whole food is filled with fiber. Although the avocado is calorically dense, it is a wonderful, healthy whole food which you can indulge in a few times a week as it will sustain you and keep you feeling full, longer. Check out my yummy guacamole recipe, in my soon upcoming post, which also includes shopping and preparation tips!

3. Walnuts, Almonds and Cashews. Let me give you a tip right off the top here – go nuts! Ha! No, really, eat them up.  Why? Because, similarly to the Avocado, nuts are filled with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, reaping a number of health benefits. Take the walnut for starters. The walnut is mostly comprised of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids and is what we otherwise refer to as an anti-inflammatory food. Nuts are perfect for a small mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. By eating a small serving of nuts 2-3 times a week, you help your brain stay sharp, your heart pump well and you also stay satisfied, longer. Contrary to some popular advice, its okay to eat nuts, despite the fact that they are a high-fat food.  

The types of fat found in nuts, avocados and fatty fishes like salmon are all good fats! So will your IQ suddenly shoot up if you start eating these wonderfully healthy foods? Why don’t you try them and find out!