Are you one of the millions of Americans that just can’t quite get started in the morning without a cup or two of coffee? Maybe it’s that delicious aroma that helps perk you up, maybe it’s the first scalding sip hitting your tongue, or maybe it’s the caffeine rush that hits 10 minutes after you down your first cup. Whatever the case, we’re grateful for the service this delicious drink provides. But, as it turns out, there may be more benefits than just that morning energy boost. Coffee may actually be great for the brain. Here’s how coffee and other foods can affect your brain.
Coffee, Our Daily Brain Juice
As recent studies have shown, coffee may provide some pretty impressive brain-boosting benefits — and not just in terms of helping you wake up in the morning. A study from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine can actually help enhance memory. Specifically, the amount of caffeine in about 2 cups of coffee can boost the memory by about 10 percent. Participants in the study were able to more accurately select similar images as close but not the same with the aid of caffeine. The results show that caffeine can actually help long-term memory.
In addition, a separate study looked at the effects of caffeine on neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This study looked specifically at how the caffeine in coffee may or may not help the elderly retain better cognitive functions. While the results weren’t precisely measurable, the finding was that coffee drinkers showed a lower incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s than the rates among elderly who didn’t drink coffee for pleasure.
The big takeaway from these studies is something pretty simple: don’t feel bad about enjoying your daily cup of joe. Both studies suggest that drinking coffee every day, at least in moderation, may provide memory-boosting benefits both now and potentially in the long run.
Other Brain-Boosting Foods
Whether you’re looking for more help with your memory, want to boost your cognitive skills, or just want to give your brain a boost in general, there are plenty of natural ways to give your most powerful organ some extra help. One of the best options for finding natural methods to help your body with what it specifically needs is through functional medicine. Functional medicine takes into account things like food sensitivity testing, hormone imbalances, and other potential issues to holistically look at how your body is functioning and create the right care plan for your needs — whether that’s brain boosting, hot flash treatment, or something else entirely.
Many functional medicine treatments include working with a nutritionist to provide vitamins, supplements, and natural ways to give your body what it needs. When it comes to brain-boosting foods in particular, we may suggest foods like:
- Fatty Fish — When we talk about fatty fish, we’re talking about fish that are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Great fatty fish options include salmon, trout, and sardines. The brain is made up of roughly 60 percent fat, so eating healthy sources of fat can help your brain build new cells, which can benefit learning and memory.
- Blueberries — Blueberries won’t leave you feeling blue! Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which can have an anti-inflammatory effect. The antioxidants may help improve communication between cells in the brain.
- Turmeric — Spice it up! The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, so the benefits can go straight to your head (and brain cells). Turmeric, like blueberries, offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that may help with memory and depression.
- Broccoli — This common vegetable can be uncommonly helpful. Broccoli has antioxidant compounds, but it also has high levels of vitamin K — more than 100 percent of your daily recommended amount is in a single cup of broccoli.
- Pumpkin Seeds — Here’s a reason to snack on this seasonal treat all year. Pumpkin seeds are bountiful in the nutrients they provide; they’re a good source of zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron. Together, these nutrients can help with neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and depression.
There are plenty of other delicious, brain-boosting foods out there. Whether your concern is memory, anxiety, or simply wanting to live your best life, meet with your local functional medicine team for natural ways to help yourself. For functional medicine and more in Peoria, connect with the team at Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa today.