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Food for Thought: A Nutritional Guide to Better Cognitive Ability

Part of the reason why the human brain became so smart in the first place was that people acquired much greater access to nutrients than what was available in the past. The human brain needs a large number of nutrients to function at its best in the short-term and the consumption of certain foods can also help the human brain become even more powerful in the long-run.

Even better is how certain foods can reduce the degeneration of the human brain that many people mistakenly see as being inevitable. Neurodegenerative disorders can be slowed down or even reversed with the right nutrition.

Stay Hydrated

Water is the most important requirement for keeping the brain healthy. A dehydrated brain is not able to transport minerals as efficiently and will slowly deteriorate as a result. Of course, most people are not severely dehydrated, but even a little dehydration can make the brain function worse.

Fight Oxidative Stress On the Brain with Antioxidants

One of the biggest threats to the brain is oxidative stress and some researchers believe that oxidative stress is one of the leading causes of an aging brain. Fortunately, the effects of oxidative stress can be countered by antioxidants, which are contained in certain foods. One of the best sources of antioxidants is blueberries and studies have shown that a diet rich in blueberries can improve learning capacity and motor skills. However, there are many other fruits that are also high in antioxidants, including cranberries.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Might Be Important

Omega-3 fatty acids have garnered a lot of attention over the years as researchers have discovered that they can play a major role in brain health, including possibly reducing depression. The research is currently controversial, since some experts claim that there is no clear evidence that the human brain is really protected by omega-3. A recent study published in the journal Neurology found that those with the lowest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids performed significantly worse on tests. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many fish, with salmon being one of the largest sources.

Vitamin E is Crucial

The classic vitamins and minerals are all important for brain function. However, there are some vitamins and minerals that are more important than others. One in particular is vitamin E, which is not only important for the brain, but helps keep the human body energized. Most nuts and seeds have a lot of vitamin E, including walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

The Many B Vitamins

B vitamins are another important part of brain health by reducing the brain shrinkage that commonly occurs with aging. Brain shrinkage is linked to homocysteine, which appears in the brain in larger levels when the brain does not have enough folate and B12. B12 comes from animal food sources, such as eggs, fish and shellfish, making seafood even better for the human body. Fish is commonly cited as the ultimate brain food. Another important B vitamin is B6, which is found in Spinach.

There are Many Other Beneficial Nutrients

The number of beneficial nutrients can be difficult to list and the current list is not exhaustive. Thiamin, B5, riboflavin, B2 and vitamin C are also very important nutrients for the brain. These nutrients are building blocks and valuable resources for effective brain function and many have protective properties, preventing the long-term degeneration of the brain and allowing for people to maintain healthier brains in the long run.

Byline: Susan Johnson finds most of her health and diet-related news on FirstToKnow.com