As leading South African meat wholesalers, N1 make a point of staying well-informed, not only with regards meat and the other high-quality food products we offer but on all things nutritious and healthy that can add benefit to our customers. We often cover topics on how choosing the right food types can encourage a better quality of life and longevity, and nootropic foods are one of them.
The word nootropic was coined in 1972 by Roman psychologist and chemist, Corneuliu E Giurgea, and is derived from the Greek words for ‘mind’ and to ‘bend or turn’. Giurgea was in the business of pharmaceuticals and applied the word to a set of drugs that should be able to enhance learning and memory. Fast forward a few years and nootropic supplements or ‘smart drugs’ are all the rage, but luckily for us, much of the benefit that can be gained from these synthetically produced supplements already exists in nature and we can derive similar benefits by including brain-healthy foods in our diets.
Nootropic foods was listed as one of seven trends to watch out for in 2019 by Mother Nature Network – the other six being wine-water (alcohol-free, fruit-flavoured water infused with healthy compounds); eating ‘ugly’ food which is just as nutritious as its prettier counterparts and helps to reduce waste; CBD-infused food and drink; foil-pack dinners because of the convenience factor; eating more frequently at home; and better, healthier frozen foods.
But back to the following five specific nootropic foods, courtesy of SBS – many of which you are already eating – and their cognitive benefits.
Caffeine – Good news for us coffee-lovers. A study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University shows that caffeine enhances certain memories for at least 24 hours after it is consumed. While beneficial, there is a fine line however between good for you and too much for you, and for some people, too much caffeine can cause anxiety, so be mindful of your own tolerance.
Nuts – Scientists found that some nuts like pistachios and peanuts stimulated brain frequencies that involve learning, perception and information processing. While it doesn’t offer the same instant effect that caffeine does, if included regularly in your diet (around 30 grams a day) it will help boost mental performance overall.
Leafy greens, Avocados and Eggs – These superfoods are all a great source of lutein, a nutrient which research suggests can help with mental sharpness. Various studies show that lutein can help our neural responses from infancy right through to old age, so it’s never too late to start eating more of these.
Berries – One of the richest sources of antioxidants available to us, berries also have great anti-inflammation properties which can help reduce inflammation in our brains. The recommendation is that we eat three to four servings of berries a week, where one serving is roughly a punnet size or 250g.
Oily Fish – By now we all know how important it is to include oily fish in our diets. The long chain omega 3s are said to improve learning and memory, and they too help reduce inflammation in the brain. They have also been linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and depression.
By being more mindful of these five nootropic foods, while also ensuring we remain properly hydrated, we increase the chances of an optimally functioning body and brain; so choose wisely, because as the American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said – ‘Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live’.