Can Certain Foods Make You Smarter?
You’re up late, studying for a big exam. You find yourself wishing for a magic solution, something that boosts your memory or increases your problem solving powers. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something you could eat, maybe a special food, that could make learning easier?
Unfortunately, there is no magical food that will “make you smarter”. However, there are foods that keep your brain healthy and even stimulate growth. We’re not claiming that these foods will turn a C student into an A student overnight, but including them in your diet regularly can certainly aid concentration and boost your memory.
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Yams or Jicama
- Dandelion greens (yes, really!)
- Dark chocolate
What makes these foods special, and beneficial for brain health? They contain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, certain fats, polyphenols, choline, vitamin E, folate, and others. We also know that lowering inflammation in the body overall is helpful, and that boosting gut health (with probiotic foods) in turn increases brain health.
Unhealthy foods like sugar and processed flour, on the other hand, encourage inflammation in the body. Weakened gut health can aid harmful substances in crossing the blood-brain barrier. Also, when the body is constantly busy trying to heal from inflammation and infection, resources can’t be devoted to building healthy new cells (or connections in the brain).
While you’re at it, keep in mind that a healthy diet is only one component of improved brain health. Exercise turns on the genes that make growth and protective hormones, and boosts serotonin levels in the brain. When you feel relaxed and happy, memory and focus functions improve.
So remember: While studying regularly is certainly important, don’t rely on cheap junk food as fuel. And make sure to leave time for exercise each day!