An adult’s brain weighs about 1.5kg or ~2% of the total body weight, and two-thirds of it is fat. Despite its small size (by weight), your brain has 150,000-180,000km worth of blood vessels (enough to circle Earth four times), and it has 100 billion neurons (neurons are the cells which process information). The brain uses about 20% of the oxygen carried by the blood and can use up to 50% of the fuel and oxygen carried by the blood when thinking hard. That’s how demanding your brain is!
Memory has two components – short term and long term. Most short-term memories only last 20 to 30 seconds. It relies on different parts of the brain to come together to work. Adequate sleep is important for reinforcement of memory to make it stick (and becomes the long term memory). Physical exercise creates new neurons in the brain and mental exercise, or learning, prolongs their survival. When connections between these neurons are strengthened, the connections become “remembered”. Apart from a healthy lifestyle, incorporate a healthy diet to support the brain and your memory.
My Top 5 foods for the brain:
- Essential Fatty Acid (Omega 3, DHA, EPA): A healthy brain desires a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Modern day western diets, however, tend to have a ratio of 10-20:1 of omega-6 to omega-3. Quality sources of omega 3 include sardines, anchovies, and krill. Plant sources of Omega 3 include Chia seed and flax seed.
- Dark cacao or chocolate: Dark Chocolate (no less than 70%) not only keeps you happy and reduce stress with its rich flavonoid content. It also increases blood flow to the brain improving memory.
- Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress. These flavonoid-rich fruits can help to clear out the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain. Blueberries also support cardiovascular health, enhancing oxygenated blood supply to the brain with its rich polyphenols content.
- Avocado: Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Fat are all nutrients you’re your brain needs, and you can find it all in avocado. It is rich in oleic acid (the healthy fat) which makes up 1/3 of the fat in myelin sheath and are helpful in speeding up the messaging in our brains.
- Spinach / Dark leafy greens: Spinach is rich in antioxidants, folate, Vitamins E, and K. They are all vital nutrients for your brain and keep the communication smooth.
My Top 5 herbs for the brain:
- Ginkgo leaf – In traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo nuts are used as food.
Standardized extracts of ginkgo leaf have shown benefits in improving memory as it boosts cerebral circulation.
- Ashwagandha – an Indian rejuvenating herb for reducing stresses and improving memory formation. Its ability in relieving insomnia also supports the memory building with better sleep.
- Gotu Kola – a Brahmi herb that is brain enhancing and rich in Quercetin and anti-inflammatory making it a tonic for the brain.
- Turmeric – an Indian spice that is highly anti-inflammatory that can reduce beta amyloid plaques and delay degradation of our brain messengers – neurons. You can enjoy turmeric powder with your soup, smoothie or your nutty milk.
- Rosemary – a culinary herb that is a cerebral stimulant. You can have a sip of the Rosemary tea when you are crunching for your learning or have some Rosemary Essential Oil handy for your vaporizer to get a clear and focused mind.
Lastly, stay away from refined sugar and trans-fat will keep your brain sharp and memory-sustaining!