What Foods Help You Learn Better?

Do you want to supercharge your brain? There are certain foods you can eat and nutritional habits you can develop that may help your brain work better.

Go Fish

It appears that fish may be one of the best brain foods around. Fish have high levels of both choline and omega-3 fatty acids. Both substances are linked to brain functionality. Choline, a B-vitamin, has received a lot of attention lately because of its positive effect on the brain's memory center, the hippocampus. In one experiment, rat pups given choline either in the womb or within a few weeks of being born displayed a significant change in brain function, resulting in lifelong memory enhancement. In another experiment, pregnant mothers were given either cod liver oil or corn oil throughout their pregnancies. Cod liver oil contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and corn oil does not. The children of these mothers were given an IQ test at the age of 4, and the offspring of the mothers who were given cod liver oil scored significantly better than the corn oil group. Tests using choline with pregnant mothers produced similar results.

Lose the Carbs and Gain Your Focus

If you want your brain to work at a high level for longer periods of time, you're going to have to watch your carbohydrate intake. Carbs are an essential part of nutrition, but most of us eat more than we need. When given an overdose of carbs, our bodies essentially shut down, making us sleepy. It's hard to concentrate in this state, meaning that your post pizza pig-out study sessions might not be that effective. Balancing protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake makes the body work most efficiently. Fruit and vegetables are actually carbohydrates, but are not nearly as dense as breads and pastas. Eating more fruits and vegetables and decreasing your intake of dense breads and pastas should help you focus for longer periods of time.

Caffeine -- Friend or Foe?

And yes, any story on brain food should discuss the double-edged sword otherwise known as caffeine. As most people know, caffeine is a stimulant and is found in coffee, chocolate, and many carbonated beverages. Because of its stimulating effect, it can help you become more alert and thus able to process information more smoothly and quickly. Unfortunately, caffeine is addictive, meaning that over long periods of caffeine intake, your brain may develop a "need" for the drug in order to wake up. At this point, the ability for your brain to function well without caffeine is hindered.

In general, sticking with foods high in choline and omega-3 fatty acids, and limiting your intake of dense carbs should help you become more alert and make learning easier for you. Use caffeine sparingly for a temporary boost, but don't make it a habit.

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