Types of Food That Stimulate the Brain

Types of Food That Stimulate the Brain

It's common knowledge that the foods we consume affect the way our bodies function, but many people don't know that certain foods can have powerful effects on the brain. These effects run the gamut from brain energy to task management to overall mood. Eating for brain health as well as body health is easy once the many brain-stimulating foods are discovered and added into a normal, healthy diet.

Glucose is a form of sugar carried in the bloodstream that fuels the brain and stimulates energy. This blood sugar is extracted from carbohydrates present in foods such as grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and other starches. Brain cells require two times more energy than the other cells in the human body, making the consumption of blood sugars from carbohydrates an important part of a healthy diet. There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for carbohydrates.

To stimulate and build healthy cells, brains require essential fatty acids that can only be obtained through the diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in foods such as fish, leafy green vegetables and walnuts. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in sunflower, corn, sesame and other oils. If not enough essential fatty acids are consumed, the human brain loses cognitive ability and memory. There is no RDA for fats or fatty acids.

Amino acids from proteins consumed through food are crucial for brain stimulation because they build the brain's network. Besides providing protein building blocks, amino acids calm the brain, stimulate the brain and provide energy. Complete proteins contain all amino acids and are present in foods like meat, fish, cheese and eggs, while incomplete proteins contain only some amino acids and include grains, legumes and nuts. The RDA for protein is age- and gender-dependent.

Micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, are another element present in foods (and supplements) that stimulate the brain. Micronutrients work by helping to maintain a balanced oxygen level in the brain and by eliminating harmful oxygen molecules such as free radicals (high-energy particles that ricochet and damage cells). Important micronutrients include antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin C, lycopene, lutein and beta carotene. Inadequate levels of these nutrients have been associated with decreased lung function. The RDA for micronutrients varies widely.

One of the most obvious foods that stimulate the brain is water. Human brain molecules are made up of approximately 80 percent water, which is necessary to maintain healthy membranes for neurotransmission. An adequate amount of water daily keeps the brain from getting overheated and aids in waste removal and circulation. Further, brain dehydration leads to fatigue and loss of cognitive functioning both in children and adults. The RDA for water is approximately eight 8-oz. glasses per day.