What are the Best Foods for Your Brain?
Welcome to the Quick Brain Kitchen! We are here with Dr. Lisa Mosconi, author of “Brain Food”. Dr. Mosconi has a background in neuroscience and is the Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College. In this live interview, we will learn about the best foods for concentration, focus, and memory.
Drinking Water for a Healthier Brain
Before we dive into brain foods, let’s talk about one quick brain tip: drink water. The brain is 80% water, and even a 2% water loss can lead to neurological symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. So, staying hydrated is crucial for optimal brain function.
Drinking warm water is the best way to rehydrate quickly. Warm water is vasodilating, meaning it promotes fluid absorption into the bloodstream, making your brain more alert. On the other hand, cold water has a constricting effect and may not be as effective for hydration.
The Importance of Brain Scans
Dr. Mosconi’s background in neuroscience and nuclear medicine allows her to conduct brain scans to study brain activity, energy, and neurotransmitters. These scans help determine if someone has Alzheimer’s disease or if they have the necessary neurotransmitters for a happy mood and good memory.
Drinking water before brain scans is crucial to ensure patients have dilated veins, making it easier to administer the tracer used in the procedure. Warm water is given to patients prior to brain scans for its vasodilating effect.
Understanding Brain Scans
Brain scans, such as MRI scans, provide visual representations of the brain. In one example, an MRI scan showed a 52-year-old woman’s brain who had been following a Mediterranean diet, which is known to be beneficial for brain health. The scan displayed a healthy brain with tight ventricles and a brain that fills up most of the cranial cavity.
Seeing these brain scans is a rare opportunity for individuals to visualize their own brain and understand the importance of keeping it healthy and well-hydrated.
Really close to the bone. This is the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. It needs to be close to the white matter and as big as possible for optimal function. Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are important for brain health, especially in the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb. These primitive brain functions help us avoid eating bad food and remember important information.
This brain scan shows a woman who has been on a western diet most of her life. Her brain shows signs of atrophy and ventricular enlargement, which are red flags for future Alzheimer’s disease. Brain aging is influenced more by diet than genetics, and genetics alone do not determine the risk of Alzheimer’s. Lifestyle factors, such as stress management, sleep, and exercise, also play a significant role in brain health.
What we eat directly impacts our brain. The brain has a protection system called the blood-brain barrier, which regulates the passage of substances and maintains equilibrium. It is important to provide the brain with the specific nutrients it needs for optimal function.