General Health

What is cognitive nutrition?

Could having dinner by 6 pm and consuming pumpkin seeds and omega-3 fatty acids improve your brain health?

One needs to consume a rich diet to remain at their physical peak. Protecting the brain is turning out to be as essential as finessing the body, and what we consume definitely matters. Cognition nutrition refers to a diet including the best foods to consume for protecting the brain and helping it attain optimum functioning and the diet had been more popular among men.

Cognitive nutrition contributes to a positive mindset and good mental health, enhances focus, and improves concentration abilities and sleep. The cognitive diet, based loosely on the low carbohydrate version of the Mediterranean diet, introduces specific foods to boost mental alertness and brain function and alertness that could even aid in preventing neurodegenerative dinosaurs such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

The diet involves eating six small meals per day based on proteins high in amino acids, such as fish or chicken to decrease fatigue. One must load up with green vegetables as they have a positive effect on cognitive function. One must include salmon, sardines and walnuts as they contain nutrients that boost the functioning of the brain. Walnuts can be incorporated into salads and cereals.

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According to nutritionist Penny Weston, the beginning point to increase the power of the human brain via diet is by limiting foods (high in sugar) that spike insulin hormone levels, which can lead to inflammation throughout the body including the human brain. Therefore, ready meals and processed foods, such as sauces, pizzas and baked beans, alcohol and fizzy beverages must be avoided.

Foods such as broccoli, blueberries, spinach, olive oil, avocado and kale, spinach enhance brain health and improve focus and memory and omega-3 fatty acids (in fish) helps to build neurons (nerve cells).One can add sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds into the diet, as they are rich in minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper and iron, which aid in nerve signalling. Sunflower seeds have high Vitamin B1 content, essential for cognition and memory. Regarding spices, turmeric is vital for cognition and can decrease depression and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

Other sources of omega-3 fats such as linseed, hemp, and ahiflower oils must also be considered. Other cognition nutrients include medicinal mushrooms (especially lion’s mane mushroom) and traditional herbs such as Rhodiola and ashwagandha. Vitamin B1, B6, B12, B9 (folic acid) and D, choline, iron and iodine exert neuroprotective effects and improve intellectual performance.

Besides what you consume, the time of finishing the last meal is important and one must end their daily meal by 6 pm so that the human body has long enough time to fast and burn fat instead of sugars by producing ketones, advantageous for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. If early dinners are impossible, one can add MCT oil (derived from coconut) into morning coffee or smoothies –a supplement that provides a form of fat that is broken down rapidly by the liver into ketones, providing the brain with an instant source of fuel.

A ketogenic diet increases the levels of ketones in the brain and involves high consumption of avocado, olive oil, and nuts to improve mental clarity.

Dr. Josephine Perry, a psychologist specializing in high performance, advises her clients to have small portions of caffeine and/or glucose before an important event such as a job interview or speech. Even if the diet hasn’t been perfect overall, the sugar hit will give the required nutrition to the brain in a stressful situation.

If you under-fuel your brain, you stop performing,” Dr. Perry said. Caffeine reduces the perception of effort. Pour yourself another coffee and you can work a bit harder even without noticing.


Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Dr. Pooja Toshniwal Paharia is a Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Physician and Radiologist, M.DS (Oral Medicine and Radiology) from Mumbai. She strongly believes in evidence-based radiodiagnosis and therapeutic regimens for benign, potentially malignant, or malignant lesions and conditions either arising from the oral and maxillofacial structures or manifesting in the associated regions.

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