When your body lacks food, it tells you by slowing down and losing its normal efficiency. In the same way, when your brain needs a boost, it lets you know by becoming slow, muddled and lacking its normal clarity. Several foods appear to boost memory and cognitive function, as if they are brain superfoods. Next time you feel the inability to focus, try these brain foods.
Maca for Brain Power
Maca is an unusual turnip-like root which thrives where other crops fail. It was grown by the Incas high in the Andes in places like Machu Picchu. This amazing food can be grown at altitudes of 9,000 to 14,000 feet, even in cold winds and strong sunlight.
Maca has been used as a food and a medicinal plant for thousands of years. The Inca people believe the root is a source of energy and endurance but it also improves memory and brain power. You may not be able to grow maca in your own backyard, or find it in the supermarket, but maca is available as a health supplement in powdered form and can easily be added to power smoothies and shakes.
Maca root is high in antioxidants which are known to aid memory and cognitive function. It comes in three forms: black, red and yellow maca. Clinical studies on maca found that black maca had a positive effect on the brain, with most people citing it helped them improve memory. Scientists believe that the antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the brain, allowing it to be more clear thinking and productive.
Cacao for Clarity and Alertness
Cacao, the raw form of cocoa and chocolate, contains over 300 beneficial compounds. Unfortunately many of these are destroyed by heating, refining and processing the cacao into chocolate.
Cacao has been shown to increase the activity in the brain's neurotransmitters, not only lifting mood and promoting a sense of well-being, but also increasing alertness and mental clarity. It works by stimulating the levels of endorphins and serotonin that makes us feel happy. It also prompts the brain to release anandamide, known as the "bliss chemical", along with phenylethylamine (PEA) which improves mental focus and alertness.
Other benefits of cacao include dilating the blood vessels which allows better circulation to the brain; balancing mood and brain chemistry; providing a shield against stress and increasing mental sharpness.
Look for chocolate with a high percentage of cacao and proportionally less sugar, dairy and soy products to get the maximum benefits from nutrient-rich cacao.
Reishi Mushrooms for Boosting Mental Capacity
Certain types of mushrooms are known to affect the mind, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively. Reishi mushrooms are referred to as the "King of Herbs" in Eastern medicine. This fungus has a positive mental benefit as it helps maintain equilibrium and balance in the whole body.
A balanced body is essentially healthy and has a strong immune system which leads to a positive and healthy outlook on life. It also allows us to deal with stress more easily, lowering anxiety levels that can otherwise inhibit brain function.
Reishi specifically strengthens the vagus nerve which connects the gut to the brain and this is thought to be the reason for the improvement in mental capacity.
Reishi mushrooms, along with maca root powder are key ingredients in several popular, powerful, and palatable meal replacement drinks used to boost energy and feed your brain.