Foods That Feed the Brain
Of all the organs in the body, the brain is most affected by damage caused through your lifestyle.
To keep your brain healthy you need to think about your diet to protect against neurodegenerative conditions such as poor memory, dementia etc. Like the heart, the brain needs good blood flow with the right balance of nutrients to function effectively.
A brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity with social interaction, Check out activity suggestions to improve brain activity at the bottom of this article.
Follow our Food Pyramid for a good healthy diet. However, you may wish to take extra or supplement your diet with vitamins or minerals in tablet or capsule form. If so then please click onto your particular problem or topic of interest and you will find them in the shopping list.
More specifically the following foods have been found to have a positive effect on brain health and function. It is interesting that these foods appear time and again on other best food lists making them truly superfoods.
Especially, blueberries but other dark skinned fruits are good too. The antioxidant levels in these fruits helps slow down the oxidative stress.
Fruits contain beta carotene, vitamins C and E and beneficial chemicals that fight free radicals circulating through the system.
- Promotes brain function with improved memory and learning
- Anti oxidants are a group of Vitamins and Minerals and enzymes that fight ‘free radicals’
- Slows down oxidative stress – no more getting ‘rusty’
- Contains chemicals that support the brain’s memory centre
- Reduces damage that could cause degenerative diseases
On every superfood list:
- Oily Fish Long chain omega 3 fatty acids are essential for brain function and memory
- Anti inflammatory therefore reducing symptoms of dementia
- Contain essential fats carrying the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K
- Has a positive effect on synapses and neurons –our communication brain tools
Eggs have suffered over the past years from undeserved bad press. They are in fact natures ‘complete food’.
- Contains choline – helps to retain information
- Great source of protein – natures cell-building blocks
- Helps when learning new skills
- Contains significant vitamins and minerals and low in saturated fats and calories
- Improves concentration
Yoghurt (must be plain and natural)
- Contains Tyrosine – vital for the synthesis of neurotransmitters
- Good Source of probiotics improves overall nutrient absorption benefiting the brain
- Stimulates alertness
- Helps produce neurotransmitters
- Regulates mood and fights depression
Dark Chocolate – must be at least 70% cocoa solids
Do you need another reason to eat chocolate?
Well obviously yes because here is another good reason – it is good for your brain!
- Full of antioxidants that slow down the oxidative process
- Improves focus and concentration
- Can reduce the LDL count (the bad cholesterol)
- Is a natural antidepressant
- Boosts endorphins which give a feeling of well being and pleasure
- Powerful anti-inflammatory qualities benefit the brain
- Antioxidant fighting free radicals to counter the oxidative process
- Reduces plaque deposits associated with degenerative diseases
- Improves mental clarity
- Prevents abnormal proliferation of non-neuronol cells
Nuts & Seeds especially walnuts (that just so happen to look like mini brains)
- Walnuts contain linoleic acid to support the nervous system
- Walnuts contain vitamins E & B6 for clearer thinking
- Walnuts contain 15-20% protein building blocks for cell renewal
- Seeds and nuts contain natural anti-depressants to control mood swings
- Seeds and nuts are a good source of omega-3
What else can you do to keep your brain sparking?
A brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity with social interaction such as:
- Playing bridge or learn and then play socially or in competitions
- Ballroom Dancing - it’s physical, you have to employ mental activity to learn the steps, great for co-ordination, you do it with a partner and you mix with others in a social environment.
- Learn a language – this uses different parts of the brain
- Learn an instrument – another part of the brain
- Have a ‘do something different day’ – Use your other hand to the dominant one to do all your tasks including writing.
- Hold onto your curious self – you will always be learning.
- Take a course in a subject that will require you to take an exam at the end this will employ the left side of the brain.
- Take up drawing/art classes or learn a creative craft – this will employ the right side of the brain.
- Brain training small computers (like the Nintendo DS Lite)
- Mind games in most newspapers
Supplements for the brain
As people age, they may not absorb vitamins and minerals as well as they should.
Along with a balanced diet you can consider taking supplements known to help with brain function and brain health.
On B vitamins, in particular, people often come up short. Folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies can contribute to poor brain function.
The herb ginkgo may have benefit for some people. A recent study cast doubt on ginkgo’s benefits, but many herbal medicine experts point out that numerous previous studies do show a brain boost from ginkgo.
Finally, consider acetyl-L-carnitine, a nutrient that can help the body process energy from food into energy for cells in the body. About 25% of our daily calorie intake goes toward keeping the brain humming. Efficient use of energy is an important part of keeping the noggin healthy.
If you are considering these or any other supplements, talk to your doctor about which ones might be right for you. Dietary supplements can interfere with medications, so stay safe by clearing supplement use with your healthcare provider.
Read more about keeping your memory in good working order