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 in order to stay sharp and reduce the risk of age-related brain disorders that may arise late in life. By adding some of these brain-boosting foods into your regular diet, you will give your brain the best chance to fight disease and perform at its best.
A recurring item in my nutrition-related articles, 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 significant 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 positive brain benefits. Choline in particular, which is a B vitamin, is particularly important for the brain development. Some easy to find and easy to cook leafy greens include broccoli, spinach, kale, and brussel sprouts.
Eggs, particularly the yolks from grass-fed organic sources, are also a great source of omega-3s and choline, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K. Eggs 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 can be beneficial as well. Exercise has a massive positive impact on brain function, particularly in areas of stress relief, memory, and learning. As little as 4-5 minutes of intense physical activity can be all it takes to do a fat-burning, brain-boosting workout. Also, a lower vitamin D level is a known risk factor for cognitive decline, so be sure to get plenty of sunshine as much as possible. Why not combine the two and do your next workout outside?
Yours in Health, Dr. Alex
Project Wellness Company, Madison WI
P.S. A lot of this information came from this article on Dr. Joe Mercola’s website: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/03/22/brain-boosting-foods.aspx