There are a lot of foods that affect your brain in a multitude of ways. From providing neural connections with much-needed glucose as fuel, to soothing inflamed synapses, and even strengthening the bonds between each neuron.
Unfortunately there’s quite a bit of gunk research out there when it comes to learning about how what you eat affects your brain.
A number of studies have been either inconclusive or utilize a very small sample size in a one-time trial, while other pieces of information seems almost entirely made-up based solely on what we know about the chemicals in foods and not around how the human body interacts with them either individually or in unison with other foods.
So, what I’ve done is spend a sizable amount of time over the last few weeks trying to find the most conclusive information on a number of foods that impact the brain and, as a result, creative thinking. How does what you eat impact your creativity? What foods should we be consuming more of to strengthen creative abilities, and which foods should we avoid? Here’s a bit of “food for thought.”
Kale and other leafy greens
A leafy-green form of cabbage that contains lots of natural chemicals which fight free radicals and toxins in the body as well as promote DNA repair in cells. Provides:
Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara shows that a sprinkle of cinnamon in your meal can help blood flow as well as stabilize tau proteins in the brain, making neurons stronger for a longer period of time. Cinnamon provides:
- Improved blood glucose
As you grow older the neural connections in your brain become inflamed and the communication between cells slows. According to a number of studies – including one from 2009 by Tufts University – Blackberries contain polyphenol antioxidants that slow inflammatory enzymes and their affects on the brain. They provide:
Olive oil, avocados, peanut oil
Foods like olive oil and avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids which, among many other health benefits, provide the body with membrane fluidity without decaying. Polysaturated fats, such as those found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, can help in the same regard, but are actually linked to lipid peroxidation, which means toxic chemicals in the body damange cells by “stealing” electrons. They each provide:
- Monounsaturated fats
- Oleic acid
Drinking a lot of water is good for your whole body, but what dehydration does to the brain can be pretty surprising. If you don’t get enough water in the day your brain tissue will actually shrink, hindering cognitive abilities.
For more information on how diet affects your creativity, consider some of the following studies and books.
“Quercetin increases brain and muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and exercise tolerance.” - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19211721
“Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer’s disease in vitro.” - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19433898
“Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents.” - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336685
“Dietary fat types and 4-year cognitive change in community-dwelling older women” - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23593/abstract
Photo by Zitona.