Food for Brain Health

Many of us wish there was one magical food or supplement that could prevent brain disease (or any disease), but there is not. Unfortunately, there are aspects out of our control when it comes to cognitive decline: Age and genetics. You are not completely powerless and it makes sense to do the best you can. An overall healthy lifestyle full of nutrient rich foods and ample amounts of exercise is ideal for optimal health. And, there are foods you can include in your diet that would be extra helpful in ensuring you are taking the best possible care of your brain.

Here are some of the best foods you can add to your diet:

  1. Berries: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are a brain power food. Berries are full of antioxidants which protect brain cells from oxidative damage, stimulate the formation of new cells and fight inflammation.
  2. Avocados: Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats which are the kind of fat responsible for helping production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in memory and learning. Avocados are also full of the essential brain vitamins C, E, K, and the B complex.
  3. Dark leafy greens: Kale, spinach and broccoli are all full of B complex vitamins. The B vitamins help with mood and lessen memory loss. They also keep the brain physically healthy. Without B vitamins the brain may begin to shrink or atrophy. Kale in particular has an abundance of magnesium, a vitamin that helps prevent Type II Diabetes and heart disease, two diseases that greatly increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
  4. Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts and pecans are all sources of omega-3s and omega-6s, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Walnuts have a lot of power to reduce brain inflammation. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are sources of zinc, choline and vitamin E.

Here are foods you can cook with and add to your favorite dishes:

  1. Turmeric: Turmeric has been called the natural alternative to Prozac as an anti-depressant. Turmeric is a powerhouse of curcumin (also found in berries), which can reduce inflammation and break up the plaque buildup known to be the cause of Alzheimer’s. India, a country that regularly cooks with Turmeric, has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world. Turmeric can also be found as an oral supplement.
  2. Olive Oil: Oil has always been a favorite for a healthy diet. Like the avocado, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which improves memory and regular brain functions. Olive oil also contains superb amounts of Vitamin E and K, which help with memory retention.
  3. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is another hearty oil you can add to your cooking repertoire. Coconut oil has a high concentration of MCTs, Medium Chain Triglycerides. MCTs are a ketone which serves as an alternate source of food for the brain (other than glucose). With another option for nourishment the brain as a better chance of staying vibrant.

In conclusion, you hold a lot of power when it comes to your overall health. Like they say, you are what you eat. Balancing our diets with a variety of super foods will benefit us in the short term and long term. We treat our bodies with care and respect by feeding it nutritious goodness and our bodies will do their best to reward us with a long happy life.