As the concept of veganism keeps gaining momentum, we keep learning something new about this lifestyle constantly. However, at this point, most people’s knowledge about it is still at the stage “oh well, I guess it is good for you” but do we really know about the full potential of going vegan? Probably not.
The vegan diet is associated with better gut and overall health. Specialists also link it with lower cancer and other diseases risks. Additionally, there is quite a lot of chit chat going on claiming that going vegan can also boost one’s brain health and even increase thinking capacity of your brain. Is it really true and how to make the most of it if you decide to switch to the vegan diet? In this article, we are going to give you the answers you are looking for!
Does the Vegan Diet Influence Your Cognitive Function?
To begin with, let’s see a brief definition of cognitive skills. In a nutshell, a so-called cognitive ability stands for the brain’s ability to function properly. The set of cognitive skills includes the following abilities:
- Attention (including selective, divided, and sustained);
- Memory (both short and long-term);
- Logic and reasoning;
- Processing information (including visual and auditory);
- Speed of processing.
Each of you uses these skills every day at college, work, and everyday life as well.
For example, when you attend a lecture and receive loads of new information – that’s when your cognitive function steps in to help you process and remember it. When you are writing a college paper, you are also using your cognitive skills. Respectively, when you feel unable to cope with the given assignment and start looking for ways to pay to do my assignment for cheap – that’s when you experience a shortage of those vital skills. That’s when a vegan diet can really help you out!
Now as you know what cognitive skills are in a nutshell, let’s look at some of the most significant advantages of going vegan that can really help you boost those skills:
1. Healthy Nutrients
It is not a secret that plant-based foods are rich in healthy nutrients and vitamins. While it may seem that switching to the vegan diet you may be lacking some basic elements, in fact, there are vegan alternatives to pretty much every nutrient. And these alternatives are generally considered to be healthier and cleaner than animal-based sources of the same nutrients.
However, there are also some risks associated with vegetarianism. In particular, there are two vital elements you may be lacking when going vegan – it is the Vitamin B12 and iron. Both elements are known for having a significant impact on one’s brain function, so getting enough of them is the key to developing strong cognitive skills.
With that in mind, it is crucial that you add supplements of these nutrients to your diet. The good news is that using supplements can actually have better results than consuming those elements with foods. For example, one study conducted in 2007 revealed that people who were given iron supplements on a regular basis had significant intellectual gains.
According to Fortune Business Insights, The global dietary supplements market size was valued at USD 48.22 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 117.92 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 9.8% during forecast period.
You may already know this, but it is still worth reminding that to function well our brain needs not only to get the right nutrients but also to stay in the right condition. The “right condition” for your brain is when it is well-rested, full of energy, and most importantly – remains in a good state of being (read mood).
This brings us to one more benefit of a plant-based diet for students. There is research that found that this type of diet can significantly improve your mood, boost general wellbeing, and even help relieve stress. How does this affect one’s cognitive skills, you may ask? Well, when you remain in a good mood and experience less stress, your brain can get more focused and function properly as it is less prone to distraction.
But wait, there is more! An additional advantage of going vegan is that your mood does not only improve, it actually stays more invariable. When switching to the vegan diet, you start consistently making the right and more constant food choices. Thus, your body remains free of toxins as you eat cleaner and remains in a good state of being at all time.
Sticking to the topic of the right state of being that promotes a better brain function, it is worth speaking of another benefit of the vegan diet – better sleep. Going vegan, you start consuming foods that contain plenty of healthy nutrients that make you generally feel better. Such foods are packed with elements like tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin. In a complex, these elements are vital for high-quality sleep.
As you start sleeping better, your energy levels remain high throughout the day, which stimulates your cognitive abilities.
Coming back to energy, it won’t be a revelation to say that when your energy levels are low, so is your brain’s function, and, respectively, your cognitive function will suffer. Since this type of diet is associated with better sleep, it also implies higher energy levels.
Apart from better sleep, there is one more point that proves that one can boost his energy levels by going vegan. The thing is that it takes lots of energy to digest animal proteins and fats, whereas some alternative vegan sources of the same nutrients, such as nuts, quinoa, legumes, and whole grains provide you with much more energy and don’t take so much energy to digest.
Having higher energy levels, in its turn, makes you more concentrated, at the same time, keeping your brain brighter and better functioning.
5. Long-Term Impact
Last but not least, the crucial benefit of being vegan is that it can have a positive long-term impact on your brain. One of the recent studies found that diet rich in plant-based products and low (or free of) animal foods leads to a much lower risk of developing cognitive impairment in the future. This finding clearly indicates the tight relation between the food choices we make and our cognitive ability.
Student’s Complete Guide to the Vegan Diet
So, as you now know, going vegan is a brand new trend that keeps spreading all across the globe. More and more people opt for a new type of diet either for environmental, health, or plain ethical reasons. Regardless of one’s objectives, the facts and numbers clearly show that when done right, the vegan diet can really bring some significant health benefits. But, where to start and how to get things right?
To begin with, it is fair to say that there is a faulty belief that being vegan, just like eating clean and healthy, is super expensive. As a student, you may be a bit over-concerned with this one, which is totally fine. However, let us reassure you that going vegan is actually cheaper and less stressful than some people believe. This guide below is created to introduce you to the basics of the vegan diet and give some clues on how to make this transition without going bankrupt:
- Getting Started
When deciding to go vegan, one of the key questions you may have is “where to start?” First of all, you should familiarize yourself with different types of vegan diets and kinds of foods that will be available for you.
Here are the three basic types of diets you may consider:
- Whole-food vegan diet;
- Raw-food vegan diet;
- 80/10/10 diet.
Of course, there are more solutions, but you can start with these ones.
- Taking It Slow
In case you are wondering whether it is possible to go vegan overnight – it is possible. However, it may not be the right approach for everyone. We recommend taking it slow, without the unnecessary rush. For example, you can start with replacing one of your daily meals with a vegan alternative and stick to it for a week or so. This will help you get the idea of whether this type of diet actually suits you or not and will help make a smoother transition if you decide to carry on.
- Cook Your Own Meals
If you are wondering if veganism is expensive, the answer is no, it is not. As long as you make the right food choices and cook your own meals instead of dining in fancy restaurants, it won’t hit your budget hard. Thus, be sure to get familiar with some nice vegan recipes and take it from there.
- Inform Your Loved Ones
Finally, an important part of the process is letting your nonvegan family members and friends know about your decision. Unfortunately, some of your loved ones may be less supportive than you’d think. However, it is important to understand that most resistance in this matter comes from a poor understanding. Thus, be sure to do your research and educate the people who surround you.
- The Bottom Line
As the popularity of the vegan lifestyle keeps snowballing, the amount of known benefits it can have on one’s brain and body also grows. Due to its popularity, more and more studies are being conducted on this matter, which allows us to explore all its direct and indirect benefits further.
Although this type of diet seemingly cuts out some vital nutrients, as you now know, supplementing them with non-animal, natural alternatives can really make a difference. And whilst the full range of benefits is still not clear, there is one thing we can say for sure – going vegan can boost your overall health and, thus, improve your cognitive functions as well.
Hopefully, this article gave you a comprehensive insight into the benefits of such a diet and its basics! Follow the tips and suggestions we discussed to change your life without pushing it too hard or spending a whole fortune!
Best 10 Smart Foods for Students to Boost Memory and Energy Levels
If you’re living on 2-minute noodles and energy drinks, you can’t expect your brain to function optimally. It’s important to find out what foods provide the best fuel for your brain, help you to concentrate and study faster for exams. Here are 10 smart foods worth including in your diet.
Oatmeal is one of the best and quickest ways to add healthy calories to your diet and give you a boost at breakfast time. Oatmeal is a whole grain that contains complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
This means oats digest slowly and release glucose over a long period, which gives your body and mind energy for the day. Along with that, it’s also full of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc and potassium.
Studies have found that students who skip breakfast eat less fiber, miss out on important nutrients, have a less healthy weight and suffer from more fatigue and a loss of concentration. Eating within an hour after you wake up with jumpstart your metabolism and give you that fuel you need.
All nuts contain protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids but walnuts contain plenty of a plant form of omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid, which isn’t found in other nuts. The healthy fat in nuts is still fat, so you don’t want to eat too many. Eat a daily 1-ounce serving or enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
Walnuts are an excellent snack to pop into your mouth if you’re feeling hungry or just before you write a test. Besides containing lots of omega-3s, walnuts also contain melatonin, which will help you to get a good night’s sleep.
Berries of all kinds, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries are full of flavonoids, and these potent antioxidants that protect brain cells from oxidative damage, keeping free radicals in check.
Studies of rats have showed that a diet rich in blueberries improves motor and memory skills and also reverses age-related declines in coordination and balance.
Berries are also full of vitamin C, which is thought to improve mental agility. The healthy sugar they contain can also increase your energy levels and ability to focus – and they’re far better for you than an energy drink or candy. According to a Harvard study, you need to eat them three times a week for maximum effect. If you can’t find fresh berries at a reasonable price, opt for frozen berries.
While you are working to be mentally smarter and boost your study skills, try out ca.edubirdie.com. This service may help you with essay writing work, thesis, dissertation and term papers. The writers there are professional and have spent years working in the academic field.
4. Dark green vegetables
If your diet is lacking in the micronutrients found in green vegetables it’s tempting to reach for your local multivitamin but there is a much better option.
The new and improved version of multivitamins are green superfood powders.These green powder supplements are loaded with your popular leafy greens that are packed with the nutrients found in fresh veggies. The benefits are clear, aside from the convenience of taking your green in one go in your favorite smoothie or with water, but on days when your diet maybe poor you can still get your micros in.
There are a few options available to suit individual needs and wallets, but if you’re keen to take a greens powder that provide brain nutrients to boost memory and focus, then this brand developed by a blogger wanting to improve his health and mental performance is worth consideration.
Vegetables are generally low in fat and contain many nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, fiber and folate. Broccoli, spinach and other dark green vegetables are rich sources of folate, which is crucial for your brain to function properly. Think about using spinach in a salad rather than iceberg lettuce. It contains more than three times the amount of folate.
Vegetable amounts required vary by individual but eating two and a half to three cups a day is recommended for both women and men from 19 to 30 years of age.
Avocados may contain fat but it is monounsaturated fat, which promotes healthy blood flow to the brain. They are an excellent source of C, E, K and B complex vitamins and make a great addition to a number of dishes due to the rich texture and good flavor.
The potential health benefits include protecting you against cancer, improving your digestion and reducing the risk of depression.
An amino acid, tyrosine, that’s found in high quantities in avocados, is a precursor to the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine helps to keep you motivated and focused. As avocados are high in calories, eat a quarter to half an avocado a day instead of a whole one.
You may be surprised to find chocolate on this list but if you eat the right type of chocolate, it can increase the blood flow to your brain. Milk chocolate doesn’t contain enough cocoa to offer this benefit and white chocolate contains no cocoa at all. The cocoa is what provides nutrition and brainpower, so you need to stick to dark chocolate.
You shouldn’t have too much either – half an ounce or a couple of squares a day is enough. You could also stir a teaspoon of cocoa powder into your Greek yogurt for a similar effect.
Beans are an economical food and underrated food. They are a good source of magnesium, B vitamins and protein, all of which increase brain function.
They are also high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, so they digest slowly, stabilize your blood sugar levels and provide a steady stream of energy. Kidney beans, in particular, are a good source of antioxidants and omega-3s. Lentils or back beans are other healthy options.
Add beans to a salad, use them in wraps, or even add them to spaghetti for a more nutritious meal. If you’re not a fan of beans because they produce gas, lentils may be a better option for you because they are easier to tolerate. Try to eat half to two-thirds of a cup a day.
Ok, this one is not really vegan unless you opt for a soja [Many students have a container of yogurt in a fridge because it provides a healthy, nutritious snack. Greek yogurt does not contain sugar and is high in protein and calcium but it has another important benefit too.
The living bacteria found in yogurt is also found in your gut (probiotics) and research is increasingly showing that changes in the bacteria in the intestinal tract can have an effect on the brain.
A UCLA study by researchers and scientists that appeared in the online peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology found that women who consumed probiotic yogurt twice a day showed changes in brain function.
Researchers have known for some time that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress can contribute to gastrointestinal problems. They now know that the signals can travel in the opposite way too. Yogurt may actually positively affect the way your brain responds to your environment.
Many people think of garlic as a "superfood” because its sulfur-containing compounds have anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory qualities. Eating raw, crushed garlic will give you garlic breath, caused by the allyl sulfide it contains but it can help you to shake off colds and infections induced by stress.
Eating garlic will not only boost your immune system but also has benefits for your brain. Damage to the brain can occur through oxidative stress and inflammation, and plenty of research is finding benefits to the brain from eating garlic.
If you don’t want to eat raw garlic, you can get similar benefits by taking an odorless aged garlic extract (AGE) as a supplement.
A final word
Healthy eating doesn’t just happen on its own. Your bad eating habits are easier to break if you make small, gradual changes. If you’ve been skipping breakfast, start by eating a bowl of oatmeal in the morning.
If you’re used to buying takeaways, learn how to make some simple healthy meals yourself, like grilled food, stir-fries, wraps or salads. When you have nutritious foods at hand, you’re more likely to eat them, so shop regularly for groceries and include the above foods on your list. Changing how you eat can take some effort but also has many benefits.
As a student, it is easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to nutrition and this is a time in your life when eating the right foods is essential. Eat the right foods and your brain receives the nutritional support it needs to function at its best.