The most powerful tool you have to change your brain and health is your fork – Dr Mark Hyman
We can‘t go out and say, ‘Eat these things and you are protected from Alzheimer’s,’ but there is almost no downside to increasing your physical activity and consuming a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fish, healthy oils, nuts, and seeds. This is according to Doctor of Science, Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University, in Chicago.
During an interview published in Health.com in September, 2017, Dr Morris says that data supports the benefits of eating foods that are high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, to help protect neurons and nerve cells and support brain health. With Dr Morris adding it is not gained through supplements.
Anything that affects the gut, always affects the brain – Dr Charles Majors
There is such a thing as a brain-boosting diet to help maintain both short and long-term brain function.
Our brain is deemed an energy-intensive organ as it uses around twenty percent of our body’s calories to function around the clock and our brain requires plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.
Sharing her top brain foods with Lana Burgess in Medical News Today, clinical registered dietitian Katherine Marengo says the brain requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids help build and repair brain cells and antioxidants assist in reducing cellular stress and inflammation. These are linked to brain aging and disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The mind and body are not separate. What affects one, affects the other – Dr Joe Kosterich
Top Brain Foods
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, herrings and mackerel are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
The results of a randomised control trial, conducted in 2017 and published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain. The study also acknowledged a connection between omega-3 levels and better thinking abilities with the results indicating that eating foods rich in omega-3s can boost brain function.
Dark chocolate, with at least 70 percent organic cacao, contains a type of antioxidant especially good for brain health.
A 2013 review, conducted by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, on the neuroprotective effects of dark chocolate shows it may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in the memory and learning part of the brain and may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.
The brain-boosting effects of dark chocolate, including improving brain elasticity, were further supported in a human study conducted in 2018 by researchers at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Dark chocolate isn’t the only food rich in antioxidants. Yummy berries such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and my all-time favourite fruit – mulberries are great for the brain too.
Clinical research conducted by Neural Regeneration Research in 2014 showed that berries may prevent age-related brain diseases and improve cerebral functions.
Nuts and seeds
I’ve always thought a walnut looks like a little brain, so it didn’t surprise me to learn that it, along with most nuts and seeds – especially sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts – are another rich source of antioxidants, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain good brain health.
A 2014 study, published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) U.S National Library of Medicine, examined the long-term intake of nuts in relation to cognition in older women.
Researchers found that a higher overall intake of nuts was linked to better brain function in older age by protecting cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Another 2014 review, published by NCBI, studying the effects of vitamin E on Cognitive Performance during ageing and in Alzheimer’s found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Aside from coffee boosting alertness and its antioxidant properties, a 2018 scientific report, provided courtesy of Nature Publishing Group, entitled; Caffeine Caused a Widespread Increase of Resting Brain Entropy (which is a complex and variable brain activity), suggests that caffeine may also increase the brain’s capacity for processing information.
It’s good to remember, however, that caffeine can also have an adverse effect on your sleeping and be the cause of other health issues so be sure to check with your doctor before increasing your caffeine consumption.
A low-calorie way of getting the brain nutrients we need is with vitamin and fibre rich green vegetables. Adding broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and bok choy to our menu will help boost our brain health.
Your brain is the command and control centre of your body. If you want a healthy body, the 1st place to ALWAYS start is by having a healthy brain – Dr Daniel Amen
It isn’t just the food we consume that can have an impact on our brain health; here are some bad habits the World Health Organisation (WHO) believes will further diminish our brain power.
WHO’s Top 10 Biggest Brain Damaging Habits
- No Breakfast
- High Sugar Consumption
- Air Pollution
- Sleep Deprivation
- Head covered while sleeping
- Working your brain during illness
- Lacking in stimulating thoughts
- Talking rarely
Exercise of the muscles keeps the body in health and exercise of the brain brings peace of mind – Sir John Lubbock (1909)
We know that heart-pounding physical activity is great for our overall health and now it appears it boosts our brain health too.
A number of studies, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 International Conference in Washington DC, highlighted the potential benefits exercising the body has on our mental health.
Promising results from one study, conducted by Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, revealed that aerobic training on adults with early dementia not only boosted blood flow to key areas of the brain but levels of a protein linked to dementia, also declined compared with the controlled group.
Researchers from another study from Denmark found aerobic exercise made no difference in their patients’ mental function compared to the control group but the exercise group had fewer anxiety, nervousness, depression and irritability symptoms.
If you’re only starting out or just getting back into exercise be sure to take baby steps. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Check with your GP beforehand and start with a brisk walk and add hills and stairs as you start to get fitter.
The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together. – Anon
Stay strong and safe…cheers susie
Susie Elelman AM
Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster