Can Weight Loss Make You Smarter?

We’ve always known that having a healthy body weight is important for overall good health, but did you know that it is just as important for your mind and intelligence as it is for your body and the prevention of physical illnesses? This is because of the lifestyle elements involved in reducing weight and maintaining an ideal body weight are the same ones for increasing your brain smarts.

Key elements of weight loss, such as a healthy diet and exercise, also improve brain function.

Key elements of weight loss, such as a healthy diet and exercise, also improve brain function.

To start, exercise – a key element to keeping proper body weight or losing additional weight – is vital for increasing brain power. This is made very clear when you compare the test results of children who have exercised previous to their examinations and experienced cognition spikes after acute aerobic exercise. After a bout of moderate exercise for around thirty minutes in adults, brain function and speed and accuracy of thought will increase by between five and ten percent.

Furthermore, when you’re eating a healthy, nutritious diet, you’ll be receiving the nutrients you need for your brain to run at its best levels. There are, in fact, specific “brain foods” and categories of foods that can make a great difference to cognitive ability, and many of these are natural elements to be included in the diets of individuals who are following a sensible weight loss diet.

Some examples of brain foods that also help with weight loss include:

  • Red cabbage – This food is not only high in nutrients and fiber (very important to weight loss), but it also contains anthocyanins which are important for increasing the functioning of the brain.
  • Good fats – Healthy fats from some oils, meats, and dairy allow for better acetylcholine production in the brain, which is vital to neural integrity (allowing for better communication among regions of the brain and the nervous system) as well as for the formation of memories. Omega-3 fatty acids are among the best fats for brain health and can be found in oily fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, haddock, and shrimp.
  • Tomatoes – Tomatoes contain lycopene, which helps to neutralize free radicals since they are antioxidants. As free radicals can be damaging to brain cells, antioxidants are key to eliminating that problem and ensuring the health of the brain. Carnitine production is also stimulated by the nutrients in tomatoes, allowing for faster fat burning in the body.
  • Ginger – Fresh ginger acts as a tremendous anti-inflammatory so that it can not only help with digestion for more effective weight loss, but it can also help to prevent mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, it promotes proper functioning and health of the brain.
  • Berries – Berries, either fresh or frozen, are an excellent source of antioxidants. In particular, blueberries are king in this category, but cherries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are also excellent. Not only do antioxidants help relieve “oxidative stress” in the brain, but they may also help to increase the rate at which you lose weight (for more information, see the article “How Antioxidants Enhance Weight Loss”).
  • Eggs – Not only are eggs an excellent source of protein that will help curb hunger, but they are rich in a brain-building nutrient called choline.
  • Sardines – Really, sardines! If you’ve spent some time learning about ways to lose weight then you’ve probably come across the Sardine Diet (see our Review here “Is there something Fishy about the Sardine Diet?”). As it turns out though, eating these little fish not only helps you lose weight, but assists in maintaining brain function throughout your life.
  • Cocoa – Cocoa, which is the source of the best food on the earth, chocolate, contains the nutrient flavonol that increases blood flow to the brain and improves brain function. Combine this with cocoa’s ability to suppress appetite and you’ve got a win, win here (for more information, see the article “Chocolate Increases Weight Loss”).

So as you can see, the actual weight of your body doesn’t dictate your brain smarts, but what you eat and how you exercise can. Since eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise (including aerobic exercise) are essential aspects of losing weight, it can be said that yes, losing weight can make you smarter. Of course, all of us dieters out there all ready know this :).

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