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Brain Health and Nutrition

Brain health and nutrition go together.

Solid, consistent nutrition that is focused toward the goal of maintaining and increasing cognition is vital and the two simply can’t be separated.

In a prior post on brain health I focused on how being committed to a vigorous aerobic exercise program has proactive benefits for sustaining healthy brain function.

brain healthThis article is the second dealing with those factors that we have control over in ensuring that our brains are in peak, working order while minimizing any effects of aging and negative environmental invasions in our lives such as cleaners, dyes, internally abrasive disinfectants and a myriad of other compounds that our bodies were never designed to be exposed to much less ingest.

A short recap of the post on exercise is in order here. Vigorous exercise done on a consistent basis engages every part of the body and stimulates it to operated at peak performance building the required stamina that assists the brain in retaining all aspects of top performance.

The next, and equally important foundational aspect of healthy brain function is what goes into your body. Again, brain health and nutrition simply can’t be separated.

There are many articles, research papers and information from very reputable sources as to what foods should be including in a well rounded diet that facilitates maintenance and increases cognition and memory.  Every diet suggestion has the writer’s own ideas as to what is supplemental and necessary so naturally there are some differences.

However there are some foods that are static and common to most of the suggested diets and those are what I’ve included in this article.  These are the foods that have been researched, studied and proven to benefit the restorative and changing needs of our brains.

All of the foods noted below have considerable benefits for the body and health in general.  They are “top of the line” in terms of defense shieldagainst aging and strongly enhance the immunization capabilities of the body.  However, we’re going to focus on their benefits for proper brain health.

Good brain health and nutrition are indelibly linked and the benefits of proper diet simply can’t be denied nor refuted.  All of these foods should be included in the diet of anyone, regardless of age, who wants to operate in top form and do so as long as possible.

Foods that are proven brain enhancement foods.

Cold Water Fish –

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids without a doubt should have a place in your diet. To retain a sharp memory and concentration, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids are able to control depression and stress.

If you don’t eat fish, omega-3 is also found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds.  Omega-3’s might also reduce the risk of brain aging, such as Alzheimer’s. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are good sources of omega-3s. Walnuts are another good source, and they might play an important role in warding off age-related brain problems.


DHA, one form of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, makes up a most of the gray matter of the brain. The fat in your brain forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how our cells function. Neuron structures are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Mackerel – Mackerel is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D and Omega-3’s.  Vitamin D also plays an important role in bone health, attitude and immunity.

Sardines – Both the meat and even the bones of canned sardines are edible, so one 3-ounce serving supplies more calcium than a cup of low-fat milk and nearly 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D.  These little fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, Vitamin B3 and vitamin D which combine to support healthy concentration, general cognition and memory.

Rainbow Trout – A typical rainbow trout has 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving and almost 1,000 milligrams of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

salmonSalmon’s reputation as a healthy food is largely based on its unusual omega-3 fatty acid content. It is normal for 4 ounces of salmon to contain at least 2 grams of omega-3 fats – considerably more than the average adult gets from food in a week. This omega-3 fat comes in two forms: EPA and DHA and is also rich in other nutrients, such as vitamin D and selenium, each of which have their own powerful health benefits.

Tuna – Omega-3 fatty acids may help lessen cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease by promoting a healthy blood supply to the brain and lowering inflammation, aiding the transmission of electrical signals in the brain found in patients suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

Berries / Fruits –

The Best Antioxidant Fruits  – berriesUS Department of Agriculture: Blueberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Strawberries, Spinach, Raspberries, Red grapes, Cherries and Kiwis.

Flavonoids in berries may cut your risk for Parkinson’s disease because of their anti-inflammatory powers, research suggests.

Your body can’t make vitamin C—researchers recently found that the retina cells—many of which are the same type your brain is filled with—could burn out when denied C.  

Blueberries, are widely considered to be the #1 brainfood.

Dark, Leafy Vegetables –

Green leafy vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, chard, turnip greens, bok choy, and broccoli are at the top of the brain food health chart.

collander with green vegetablesGreen leafy vegetables are one of the best sources of B vitamins. Three B vitamins in particular; folic acid, B6 and B12 — are essential to healthy brain function.
These three vitamins work together to reduce brain atrophy, improve brain function, and dramatically reduce brain shrinkage in the parts of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s.

Nuts –

Nuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to keep your arteries clear, as well as levels of precursors of serotonin to boost mood. walnutOne ounce a day is about twelve walnuts or twenty-four almonds.  Polyphenols in walnuts are thought to reduce improve communication between neurons.

Avocado –

Avocados also lower blood pressure, says Pratt, and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health.   Avocados improve blood supply and oxygenation to your brain. Just a quarter of an avocado per day can produce measurable benefits.

avocadoThe healthy monounsaturated fats in avocados are essential for brain health. The solid weight of our brain is over 60 percent fat so we need plenty of healthy fats to keep it healthy. 

Green Tea –

Green tea extract enhances the cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. teaMany researcher’s findings suggest reduction of cognitive impairments in disorders such as poor memory and dementia.

Other Foods –

Oils – Olive oil, nut oils, fish oils, flaxseed and avocados contain heart-healthy mono-unsaturated omega-3 and omega-9 fats.

Whole Wheat. Whole grains like whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice are a prime energy source of food for the body and brain. This type of diet works to increase blood flow to the brain, which means support the quality and quantity of brain function.

Vitamin B complex group consisted of eight different vitamins. Eat foods or a multivitamin containing vitamin B complex, which helps improve brain function. This vitamin helps the body convert choline, which is an amino acid found in food into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter chemical that aids in memory and learning.

Bottom line is, you’ve got a brain so take extra good care of it because it’s the most important organ in your body.  Brain health and nutrition go together.


Author:  Tony Hensley

#brain #nutrition #health

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