- Mental Health
Largely Unkown Smart-Drinks: Cheap, Easy, and Healthy
Cocoa: Boon to the Brain
It is not very widely known that chemicals in cocoa are capable of boosting brainpower whereas others high-antioxidant foods may not be. Cocoa has been proven to have phytochemicals--at least one--that are capable of doing something very important with regards to the promotion of cognition and overall brain health: crossing the blood-brain barrier.
What is the blood brain barrier, you might ask. Well, the blood brain barrier (often referred to as BBB for short) is the barrier between the blood in one's brain and the blood in the rest of the body. There are various hypotheses as to why the body is setup in this way, but, regardless of the reason the brain is sort of its own little ecosystem. Some of the most highly-touted foodstuffs that are supposed to promote good health--particularly mental health--have constituents that effectively cross the BBB. One good example of this would be the curcumin in the root vegetable/spice turmeric. Cocoa has at least one of these types of constituents of its own.
Not only does cocoa have such a phytochemical that is able to likely positively affect brain function and/or ameliorate decline in the function thereof, it also is highly nutritious. In addition to having fairly large amounts of nutrients, it is also very high in antioxidants, which is important seeing as the consumption of antioxidants is associated with lower risk of stroke when consumed in ones diet, and in a dose-dependant manner--meaning more consumption equals more benefit. Not to mention the fact that a box of pure cocoa that will last for many cups only costs a few dollars and is quick to make: just add a few spoonfuls to a hot cup of water, maybe some honey and cinnamon, and you're ready to go!
Green tea: refresh, relax, and sharpen the mind
Green tea has been touted to convey multiple benefits to the consumer over the last few years. It's popularity has skyrocketed; a quick google search for "health benefits of tea" will yield millions upon millions of results. However, one that is lesser known than other benefits such as weight loss and heart disease risk lowering are mental-health related.
Several studies bear this out quite clearly, and green tea consumption is invariably associated with lower rates of depression, particularly in the elderly. What is very important, specifically to the elderly and aging population that is expected to dramatically increase over the coming years, is that it seems to slow cognitive decline, often time dramatically. One thing that is very important to not, is that like previously mentioned with regards to cocoa, the benefits are related to the dosing--more cups of tea leads to higher benefits. Interestingly, few if any studies actually point out a beneficial ceiling, however most do stop at 10 cups a day, which most would say is quite a lot and it is not likely that many will go over this anyhow. What makes that fact so relevant is that the benefits often tend to increase all the way up to 10 cups, and maybe beyond! Although absurd amounts of consumption could lead to fluorosis or other issues, so, as always first consult your doctor before adding cocoa or green tea to your diet.
But, i the doc says okay, there seems to be almost only benefits to the consumption of green tea. Just like cocoa, it is fast and easy to make and often cheap. Some green tea bags can cost as low as one cent a piece!
Brain power from... plants?
Yes, although many will be surprised that plants often times will be better for their brain than animal foods such as dairy, eggs, milk, fish, read meat, and poultry, it is typically true. Although some animal foods may end up addressing some deficiencies, such as fish treating an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, outside of that animal foods tend to be inflammatory. Animal foods in particular are believed to cause inflammation of the brain due to the arachidonic acid content--something entirely absent in plants. Not to mention the spike in blood cholesterol that tends to come shortly after consumption of animal products, which often stresses the arteries and, in time, clogs them which will make it difficult for the brain to have nutrients delivered to it from the bloodstream.
Although plants may seem fairly benign and cheap--and for the most part, they are--they also have hidden benefits. The humble tea leaf may very well be one of the most beneficial things one consumes! In fact, one needn't even eat the leaf, but merely soak it in some water! For something to be that helpful with so little contact, it must be something special. So, treat tea and cocoa exactly like seem to prove to be - special brain power drinks!