Your Brain And Cognitive Performance LOVE This Naughty Treat

Question: What naughty treat gives your brain and neuroplasticity a boost?

Answer: Chocolate and coffee.

It’s true, your brain’s neuroplasticity is directly affected by chocolate and coffee consumption, which the studies mentioned in this article delve deeply into.

Before we get to the tasty stuff, let’s discover what neuroplasticity actually is by collating a few of the best definitions from Google:

What is neuroplasticity?

“The ‘muscle building’ part of the brain.” –  Brainworks

“The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.” – MedicineNet

“A life-long process that mediates the structural and functional reaction of dendrites, axons, and synapses to experience, attrition, and injury.” – ScienceDirect

What has chocolate and coffee got to do with the brain and neuroplasticity?

First, let’s define what we mean when we say “chocolate.” We actually mean a certain form of chocolate: cacao. What’s the difference between store-bought “normal” chocolate and heavenly cacao? Oh, ALOT.

Cacao is the rawest, most brain-boosting form of chocolate which comes from the cacao bean. The image shows a handful of the freshest cacao beans, depicting the benefits this raw bean can have on the body and brain.
Raw Cacao

Cacao is the rawest, most brain-boosting form of chocolate which comes from the cacao bean. Cocoa is cacao turned into powder and has less fat as a result of this process. Whereas “normal” chocolate usually has a trace/ low percentage of cocoa with added ‘stuff’ like sugar, fructose and weird fillers which can cause havoc on your body.

Hope that gives you some clarity on the differences between high quality cacao and low quality chocolate.

The image shows the 3 main stages in coffee production: organic coffee bean, ground coffee and a cup of coffee. They are shown in 3 coffee-making accessories. By buying mycotoxin-free coffee you’ll be drinking the purest form of mould-free coffee, getting a hit of methylxanthine and boosting your cognitive activity all at once.
Organic Mycotoxin-Free Coffee

Second, let’s define what we mean by “quality coffee.” It’s vital if you’re a big coffee drinker to choose mycotoxin-free and organic coffee rather than pesticide and mould-filled coffee.

Mould-filled coffee? Yes, that’s unfortunately a thing. During the coffee making process, mouldy dead bugs and pesticides fall into the coffee churners and some don’t get filtered out before reaching your lips. This means you’ll be ingesting the mould which your brain is definitely not a fan of! By buying mycotoxin-free coffee you’ll be drinking the purest form of mould-free coffee, getting a hit of methylxanthine and boosting your cognitive activity all at once.

Fast fact: Did you know that the coffee rejected by Japan is shipped over to the US for consumption(!!) Watch the video below to find out more on this coffee contravesity:

Now onto the best bit: the science-backed studies to support these claims.

A brand new 2019 study named Impact of Coffee and Cacao Purine Metabolites on Neuroplasticity and Neurodegenerative Disease, highlights the beneficial effects of quality cacao and coffee on the brain. They found that:

“Increasing evidence suggests that regular consumption of coffee, tea and dark chocolate (cacao) can promote brain health and may reduce the risk of age-related neurodegenerative disorders.”

If you’re anything like the team at Peak – Brain Training, then these chocolate-covered findings will be heavenly to hear.

So how does coffee, green tea and chocolate benefit your brain?

The image shows the 8 cups of coffee (Birdseye view) with the different shades of organic mycotoxin-free coffee. Black to super-milky organic coffee, depicting the positive influence drinking the purest form of mould-free organic coffee can have on the body and brain.
8 Shades Of Coffee

By studying the phytochemicals (biologically active chemicals) in cacao and coffee, the researchers found that, “One class of phytochemicals are methylxanthines… (a psychoactive property which in this instance is caffeine) has clear effects on neuronal network activity, promotes sustained cognitive performance and can protect neurons against dysfunction and death in animal models of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”

A further science-backed study describes how, “Caffeine and theobromine are the most abundant methylxanthines in cacao and their physiological effects are notable. Their health-promoting benefits are so remarkable that chocolate is explored as a functional food.” Functional food meaning a food that has additional nutritional value, positive effects on the body and brain. Plus they found it helps to reduce the risk of disease. We didn’t think chocolate could get any better.

Breast Cancer.org state, “Research has shown that some phytochemicals may:

  • help stop the formation of potential cancer-causing substances (carcinogens)
  • help stop carcinogens from attacking cells
  • help cells stop and wipe out any cancer-like changes.”

They also refer to some scientists saying phytochemicals may reduce your cancer risk by as much as 40%.  

Now hold your horses, before you rush down to Waitrose and Starbucks to grab your next chocolate and coffee fix, there are a few important things to note:

  • Choose quality chocolate and coffee over quantity.
  • When it comes to chocolate, think at least 85% cacao. Strong, yes, but try upping the percentage each week and edge your way towards that top mark. And for the daredevils amongst us, you could give 93% chocolate a go – Montezuma chocolate is yummy!
  • And always go for organic – just like Green & Blacks chocolate.
  • Check out the added ingredients to see if any horrible fillers have been added.
  • Choose mycotoxin-free coffee – Google it to find the best organic coffee on the market.

There you have it. Two “naughty” treats your brain and cognitive function actually benefit from. What to do with this new brain-boosting information?

  1. As your brain will be boosted by this coffee and chocolate intake, you might want to take advantage of your cognitive state and try out a brain training game or two from Peak – Brain Training.
  2. Have cocoa chocolate and coffee treats to fuel your workouts instead of sugar-filled pre-training snacks.
  3. Share this health knowledge with friends and family, so they too can benefit from these wholesome delights.

Sources Cited:

Maisie Bygraves

One thought on “Your Brain And Cognitive Performance LOVE This Naughty Treat

  1. Interesting read! Thanks for giving us these rules of thumbs when choosing chocolates and coffees.

    Chocolate = 85% or more in cacao
    Always go organic and mycotoxin free
    Montezuma (93% cacao yummy)

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