Lifelong healthy eating habits are essential for optimal brain functioning. Consuming an array of fresh produce, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy is optimal; additionally, avoid foods high in sugar, sodium or saturated fat content.
Brain-boosting foods include salmon, which contains omega-3’s to support the mind; eggs that supply memory-improving choline; and nuts which provide essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E for brain health.
Glucose, a form of sugar, is the primary fuel used by brain and other body cells; in fact, about one half of all glucose energy consumed goes towards fuelling brain activity alone.
Recent research is beginning to demonstrate how diet can reliably alter cognition by altering metabolic processes and synaptic plasticity of the brain. These discoveries reinforce the necessity of maintaining a nutritious, well-balanced diet for optimal mental function.
Strive for a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Restrict your sugar consumption as much as possible; particularly soda (including diet sodas) and candy; choose healthier alternatives like green tea, berries or water instead. Don’t forget adding turmeric, cinnamon or ginger spices into meals for additional cognitive benefits as these provide powerful anti-inflammatories which may reduce harmful inflammation; the GCBH suggests including foods rich in vitamin C such as bell peppers, guava and oranges as they contain brain-boosting antioxidants which may reduce harmful inflammation.
The brain works tirelessly 24/7 and requires fuel. While other organs use glucose from the bloodstream as fuel, amino acids from protein sources provide its fuel source.
An extensive research study published in January 2022 by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tracked over 77,000 participants for over two decades and discovered that those who consumed more protein had a lower risk of cognitive decline; for every five percent of calories from proteins rather than carbohydrates there was a 26% lower risk for dementia or other forms of mental decline.
Oily fish such as salmon, trout and sardines provide essential omega-3 for brain cell structure improvement. Aim to consume two servings per week. Meanwhile, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale provide B vitamins to boost mental clarity as well as antioxidants that combat inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.
Fats and Oils
Your brain is always “on,” providing for all aspects of your thoughts, movements, heartbeat and breathing as well as senses. To operate optimally it requires “premium fuel” from foods you consume – this fuel comes from our diets!
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish are widely acknowledged to play an integral part in maintaining brain health, but other fats and oils also play a vital role. Avocados, chia seeds, and olive oil all contain monounsaturated fats which have been shown to aid memory performance while encouraging proper blood flow to the brain.
Avoid trans-fats, which have been linked with reduced mental function. A diet high in saturated fats and sugary beverages increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Instead, choose a heart-healthy diet such as the Mediterranean or DASH diets which encourage a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish and lean meats – plus plenty of herbs and spices like turmeric which has been linked with decreased depression rates.
Vitamins and Minerals
Micronutrients are vitally important to brain health. These include the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as water-soluble ones such as Thiamin, vitamin B6 folate and Vitamin C. Iodine also plays an essential role in keeping the mind functioning smoothly while L-carnitine transports lipids to the brain.
Vitamins B6, B12 and folate are among the most essential for brain health as they play a critical role in producing neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers responsible for communicating between all 100 billion neurons of our brain. If neurotransmitter levels become imbalanced they may lead to cognitive issues as well as neurodegenerative conditions.
Studies of various vitamins and minerals supplementation programs have demonstrated improvement in cognitive performance; however, the studies were too short and small to demonstrate tangible gains for most people. Eating a varied diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, berries and nuts is the best way to promote brain health.