The link between diet and brain function is becoming more and more clear. The brain depends on a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay sharp and reduce risk of age-related brain disorders that may arise late in life. By adding some of these brain-boosting foods into your diet, you will give your brain the best chance to fight disease and perform at its best.
Healthy fish is some of the most important food to include in a complete diet. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, and herring have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3s also generate benefits for areas of the brain that control memory, motor function, and visual processing.
Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens are rich in nutrients such as folate, lutein, beta-carotene, and choline, all of which are known for brain benefits. Choline, a B vitamin, is particularly important for the developing brain. Some easy to find leafy greens include broccoli, spinach, kale, and brussel sprouts.
Eggs, particularly the yolks from grass-fed organic sources, are also great sources of omega-3s and choline, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K. They are also the gold standard for protein absorption, meaning our bodies are highly capable of breaking down and utilizing the protein found in eggs. This protein is essential for repairing any brain injuries, including repetitive microtraumas that may not be recognized as a substantial injury, but are known to have a cumulative negative effect over time.
Blueberries are loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are linked to improvements in learning, thinking and memory. These nutrients are also known to be protective against oxidative stress, which can lead to Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Blueberries are also low in sugar and high in fiber compared to many other common fruits, making them an overall better choice to add to a healthy diet.
While a wholesome diet is a great place to start for maintaining a healthy brain, other lifestyle factors are important. Exercise has a massive positive impact on brain function, particularly in areas of stress relief, memory, and learning. Also, a lower vitamin D level is a known risk factor for cognitive decline, so be sure to get plenty of sunshine. Why not combine the two and do your next workout outside?
Yours in Health, Dr. Alex