Ayurveda emphasizes the balance between the mind, body, and spirit. At the same time, the starting point of Ayurveda is that well-being starts in the gut. That means, that what we eat, or rather what we digest, has a great influence on all processes in our bodies. Food is the main pillar that supports our well-being. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when it comes to brain health and enhanced memory, the Ayurvedic diet brings some pretty interesting insights. Keep reading to learn not only about powerful Ayurvedic foods for the brain but also rituals you can do to support brain health.
So, what are the top foods that can help boost your cognitive function and mental clarity according to Ayurveda? From almonds to ghee to turmeric, these brain-boosting foods should be on your next grocery list.
Doshas and the Brain
Firstly, let’s take a closer look at cognition itself. Cognition encompasses everything related to intellectual functions and processes of the brain, from memory to intelligence, decision-making, and reasoning. As with everything in and around us, the doshas govern the organs in our body. For the brain that is Vata. That means that following a Vata-balancing diet is one of the first steps in supporting brain health.
At the same time, since Kapha is the one that takes care of the fluid movements in our bodies, it is also the one that governs over the white matter and, implicitly, memory. Kaphas are usually characterized by strong memory, so equally as important to brain health is to keep Kapha nourished. Ultimately, this will ensure the proper functioning of cognitive functions.
So, what foods are best at supporting brain health and enhancing memory?
Ayurvedic Food for the Brain
Food possesses various properties that are meant to rejuvenate, revitalize and energize our bodily systems. The right food is, therefore, paramount in optimizing cognitive function. Specific foods can stimulate your brain and boost memory power, but not all brain foods are equal. The key is to cater to your unique doshas, determined by your body type.
Gotu Kola (aka Brahmi)
First up, there’s Gotu Kola, an herb that’s been used for centuries to enhance memory and concentration. Gotu Kola works by nourishing the brain tissues and promoting circulation in the brain. Moreover, the rejuvenating qualities of this herb help slow down the aging process while acting as a brain tonic. This way, Gotu Kola strengthens memory and intellect, increasing concentration and focus.
Next on the list is Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb that helps the body cope with stress and anxiety. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, Ashwagandha can enhance brain function and improve memory. Ashwagandha, too, is known for its regenerative properties. It helps calm the mind and energizes the body. In fact, Ashwagandha is known for strengthening, supporting, and revitalizing all bodily functions, making it the complete package for overall well-being. Pittas, be careful though as this herb can be too heating for you.
Ghee is a clarified butter that’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Ghee is rich in healthy fats and nutrients that nourish the brain and promote cognitive function. It’s also a great source of energy, making it an ideal food for people who need to sustain mental focus and concentration for long periods of time.
A personal favorite due to my constitution (proud Pitta-Kapha here). Leafy greens are rich in nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and beta-carotene, all of which are vital in maintaining brain health. At the same time, leafy greens are full of antioxidants that fight against the oxidative process.
What a delicious surprise, isn’t it? Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that help stimulate the blood flow to the brain. It also encourages neuron and vessel growth in the brain, improving memory.
Nutrient-rich Spices to Enhance Cognitive Function
Another way to boost your brainpower is by incorporating these spices into your diet. Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper are not only delicious but also nutrient-rich. They also possess a series of properties that are extremely beneficial in maintaining a healthy brain.
Turmeric, for example, can increase the production of a protein that helps repair brain cells. Cinnamon has been linked to improved memory and attention span, while nutmeg and black pepper are known to enhance cognitive function and promote better mental clarity by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Boost Your Brain Power
Food is not the only way of supporting cognitive function. Another way of protecting and supporting brain health is by incorporating a series of rituals into your routine.
Extremely efficient in calming down the nervous system and reducing stress, doing yoga can help improve brain health and prevent degeneration.
Nasya, or nasal oil drops, is an ayurvedic ritual that helps clean the nasal cavity, reduces mucous and balances Vata. At the same time, nasya helps clear the mind by clearing the nasal passage of any impurities and toxins.
Abhyanga actually a warm oil massage that helps increase blood circulation through the body and the brain. It also helps calm down the nervous system and reduce stress, which helps improve brain health.
Brain health is often overlooked when we talk about well-being. However, keeping our brain, memory, and intellect in great shape is as important as getting enough exercise or eating healthy. That means that we need to support and train the nervous system as we do any other system in our body. As with everything in Ayurveda, food is one of your greatest allies in doing so.