The food we eat impacts the health of our bodies of course, but it’s equally important to consider how our diet interacts with the health and function of our brains. Science still has much to teach us about how our diet affects brain function, but we do know that neurotransmitters like serotonin rely heavily on the nutrients we get from our diet to work well. Eating enough of the right kinds of foods can sharpen your focus, improve your memory, and increase your ability to process new information quickly.
Focus on eating these foods to keep your brain happy and well:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids boast countless brain benefits. Omega 3s help build brain and nerve cells, boosting your mood and improving your ability to learn and retain information. This is most likely because of two specific amino acids called EPA and DHA, which are thought to relieve symptoms of mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Studies have shown an omega 3 deficiency contributes to depressive symptoms and learning problems. There is some research suggesting omega 3s also help slow down or prevent cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s. Fish is one of the best natural sources of omega 3s, so don’t forget to pick up some salmon or trout on your next grocery trip. Dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are also good sources of omega 3s.
The amino acids in protein are an essential ingredient in the building of neurotransmitter pathways in your brain. Protein also does a great job of regulating your blood sugar, warding off mood crashes, and helping to minimize symptoms of anxiety and depression. Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are the best sources of protein, so if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet you will need to be extra intentional about getting enough protein from plant-based sources.
B Vitamins & Vitamin D
B vitamins are so important for brain health because they help your body rid itself of homocysteine, a chemical that has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. B vitamins are water-soluble, so they need to be replenished daily either from diet or supplements. There are plenty of foods to choose from for a B Vitamin boost: meat, chicken, fish, citrus fruits, avocados, whole grains, eggs, and legumes are all full of them. Perhaps better known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is well-known for its ability to improve mood, so make sure you’re getting enough time outside and also enjoying vitamin-D rich foods like orange juice, cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are another great brain food: they are packed with omega 3s, folate, antioxidants, and vitamin K. Your body uses vitamin K to produce a type of fat called sphingolipids, which are very important for brain health. Kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts contain some of the highest amounts of vitamin K - eating just one cup of broccoli gives you almost 200% of the recommended daily intake!
If you have questions about brain health, call us today to talk about the cognitive tests we offer. No matter what your health goals are, we can help you find out what’s causing you trouble and gently correct it with dietary changes or a combination of high-quality vitamin supplements.