How To Use Nutrition To Make You Smarter
You’ve probably heard of the concept of “brain food”.
Foods you can eat which will make you smarter, or help your memory.
But is there anything to this?
We’re the Edison Institute, a school for registered holistic nutrition, and we want to help shed some light on foods which can help you boost your brain power.
Keep reading to learn what to eat to help improve your memory.
What Is Intelligence?
Intelligence can be a different concept to wrap your head around because it can encompass a number of factors.
Some of the ways in which it has been defined include:
- The ability to learn
- Emotional knowledge and self-awareness
- The ability to adapt to new and changing situations
- Problem solving skills and the capacity for logic and critical thinking
Robert Sternberg, a psychologist at Yale University, defined it as “the mental abilities necessary for adaptation to, as well as shaping and selection of, any environmental context”.
Theories Of Intelligence
There are a variety of theories of intelligence.
Some claim it is inherited, while others say it is a result of one’s environment (realistically, it’s likely a combination of both).
There are those who claim intelligence is a general ability and others who say it is comprised of a variety of talents and skills.
In this section, we’ll have a look at a few different ways to view intelligence.
Spearman’s General Intelligence
This theory, put forth by Charles Spearman, an English psychologist, says general intelligence refers to the mental ability for a variety of specific skills, including:
- Verbal abilities
- Spatial reasoning skills
- Mechanical skills
- Numerical abilities
Spearman noted those who typically did well in one test of these areas also tended to score well in other areas, and attributed this to a strong general intelligence.
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
Gardner proposes the idea of multiple forms of intelligence which each represent skills relevant to their specific category.
These categories include:
- Spatial intelligence
- Linguistic intelligence
- Intra-personal intelligence
- Interpersonal intelligence
- Logic/mathematical intelligence
- Musical intelligence
- Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence
Thurstone’s Primary Mental Abilities
These abilities include:
- Inductive Reasoning: The ability to form rules and principles when given generalized information
- Word Fluency: Being able to use words for tasks including solving puzzles, or rhyming
- Memory: Being able to recollect information, for instance, formulas, lists, or definitions
- Verbal Comprehension: Understanding words, ideas, and concepts
- Perceptual speed: Being able to grasp details
- Numerical ability: Use of numbers to find answers to problems
- Spatial visualization: Ability to visualize patterns in space
How To Use Nutrition To Make You Smarter
No matter which theory of intelligence you subscribe to, there are things you can do to help improve your brainpower.
The foods you eat can have a big impact on your brain function.
But food can also be used to help improve your mind as well.
Keep reading to learn about what to add to your diet which might just help you ace your next test or be better prepared for your next big meeting.
There’s nothing fishy about it, wild caught salmon is a great food for helping you boost your brain.
It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are super important for brain health.
A 2014 study in the journal Human Psychopharmacology found omega-3’s helped young adults achieve better cognitive performance.
Another 2019 study came to the conclusion omega 3’s can help protect against cognitive decline in the elderly.
Berries in general are great for your brain, thanks to their high concentration of antioxidants.
Blueberries in particular are especially high in antioxidants, while also being low in calories.
Antioxidants protect cells against damage caused by free radicals.
3. Cayenne Pepper
If you like to spice up your meals, then reach for some cayenne pepper, and do your brain a favour at the same time.
A 2020 study found diets rich in capsaicin, a key component of cayenne pepper, played a role in preventing cognitive decline.
Capsaicin has other benefits as well, including helping with weight loss, improving circulation, and relieving heartburn.
You may know avocados as a delicious way to get a serving of “good fats”, but they’re so much more than that.
They contain 20 different vitamins and nutrients, and even help improve blood flow to the brain.
A 2017 study in the journal Nutrients looked at the effects of avocados on cognition.
It was found they had a positive impact on cognitive health, and it was suggested that adding avocados to one’s diet could be an effective way to improve cognitive health in aging populations.
5. Dark Chocolate
If you like a sweet treat, then you can enjoy some flavanol rich dark chocolate while also boosting your brainpower.
A study in the journal Foods notes these flavonoids help improve cognition, and have beneficial effects on memory.
6. Leafy Greens
You’ve heard spinach will help you build strong muscles, just like Popeye, but did you know it, and other leafy greens such as kale and broccoli are good for your brain as well?
They are rich in iron, which plays a key role in ensuring oxygen gets transported throughout the body.
Without iron to help your red blood cells carry oxygen, you may feel fatigued and experience brain fog.
Walnuts are such great brain food that they even look like little brains themselves!
They have a high amount of omega-3’s, which in general are good for your brain as we mentioned previously.
But they’re particularly high in a type of omega-3 called DHA – or docosahexaenoic acid.
You can see why the acronym is nice for that one.
DHA has been shown to improve cognitive performance, prevent age-related cognitive decline, and help with brain development in children.
Contact The Edison Institute Of Nutrition Today
It’s amazing the effects eating certain foods can have on our minds, and our bodies.
From the brain boosters we listed here, to the foods needed to keep our bodies functioning at peak performance.
Registered holistic nutritionists work with their clients to help them identity gaps in their nutrition which are affecting their health, and creates plans to help them close those gaps.
At the Edison Institute of Nutrition we’ll help you learn about helping your clients address nutrient deficiencies, and more,
Contact us today, to learn more about our programs, and to determine if it’s the right fit for you.