Food For A Healthy Brain

You can choose food for a healthy brain as easily as you can choose food for a healthy body.

There is overwhelming evidence that by eating certain foods you can maximize your chances of keeping your cognitive function in peak condition.

By paying attention to the sort of food you eat, you can support the health of you brain both physically and cognitively.

Over the past few years there has been a strong swing towards eating more carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar (1) .

This trend has been especially noticeable during the past 50 years.

Further, it’s no coincidence that as our diets became more carbohydrate heavy, the incidence of many serious diseases began to rise.

Unfortunately many of those diseases that are on the rise are the neurodegenerative diseases that ruin the lives of those who are diagnosed.

This group of diseases includes Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias as well as Parkinson’s disease.

Other signs of loss of brain function

Food for a healthy Brain

However, when the brain loses function there are other signs that all is not well.

These signs include:

  • Memory loss
  • Lack of focus / concentration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep

Your brain has very high energy needs, and is greatly effected by the foods that you eat.

Like all engines, the brain functions best on the best quality fuel.

If you feed your brain a diet high in carbohydrates, ready meals, sugar and seed oils your brain is forced to deal with this sub-standard fuel.

The fact that sugar is harmful to your brain has been well documented.

A high sugar diet will make conditions such as depression (1)and anxiety a lot worse.

Food for a health brain is nutritionally dense and free of high carb processed junk foodFood for a healthy Brain

A further study found that by eating a nutritionally dense diet the risk of depression was greatly decreased.

It is now widely accepted that a poor diet will also contribute to damaging inflammation within the brain. This can lead to a loss of function.

The findings are supported by This study out of Harvard Medical School.  There scientists looked specifically at the effect of food on brain function.

The team explained that Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, moods and the perception of pain.

They point out that 95% of all serotonin is produced not in your brain but in your gastrointestinal tract.

Your gut contains about a hundred million neurons . This is because your gut doesn’t just digest food, it also influences your emotions.

Further, these same gut based neurons which  produce serotonin are highly influenced by the billions of good or bad bacteria you may have in your intestines.

“Higher intakes of unhealthy foods during pregnancy predicted externalizing problems among children, independently of other potential confounding factors and childhood diet. Children with a high level of unhealthy diet postnatally had higher levels of both internalizing and externalizing problems. Moreover, children with a low level of postnatal healthy diet also had higher levels of both internalizing and externalizing problems.”

If you are unfamiliar with the role of bacteria on health and mood read for a more detailed explanation:

Who’s craving sugar: You or your gut bacteria?

The role of gut bacteria on brain health

There is now a large body of scientific evidence that has shown that  taking probiotics is good for your health.  Probiotics contain good bacteria and caused  anxiety and stress levels to reduce.

Not only that, your bacteria can also influence the amount of inflammation throughout your whole body, including your brain.

Even more alarming is this study which found a link between poor diet and the mental health of children by the time they were 5 years old.

If you are unfamiliar with the role of bacteria on health and mood read:

Who’s craving sugar: You or your gut bacteria?

Which foods are food for a healthy brain?

Food for a healthy brain

Fatty fish:

If there is one healthy food that should top any list of brain enhancing foods it should be Fatty fish.

Your brain is made out of fat and almost half of that fat is Omega 3.

Omega 3 serves several very important functions for your brain including:

  • Used in the production of nerve and brain cells
  • Help minimize your risk of developing Alzheimers disease and other demetias (2)
  • Helps increase the amount of gray matter which controls memory and emotions (3)
  • A reduced risk of many other diseases (4)

The best sources of fish high in omega 3 fatty acids are:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Mussels (OK not a fish but high in omega 3 and super nutritional)
  • Anchovies
  • Swordfish
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Pollock

With that much choice it should be easy for you to choose a few you enjoy and eat those fish at least twice each week.

Blueberries:

You’re probably already familiar with this super food. Long been a favourite of health gurus, it’s also hugely beneficial for your brain.

This is another food that lowers inflammation and lowers the risk of many diseases.

These include the neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

However, the benefits of eating blueberries go further.

Just a handful of these berries helped to improve communication between brain cells. There was also an improvement in memory (5)

So, if you haven’t tried them before now it the time. Sprinkle a few on your meal or eat them on their own.

Turmeric:

It’s difficult to overstate how healthy Turmeric is.

As with Blueberries, it can reduce inflammation. Plus it can increase the speed with which new brain cells are produced and can enhance memory.

For a more detailed read about Turmeric see:

Turmeric and curcumin benefits: How to beat inflammation

This is an easy spice to use and can be added to potato dishes and curry. It can also be defused into a healthy tea.

Broccoli:

Fans of the keto diet can’t get enough of this super healthy vegetable. Not only is nutritionally dense , it’s also low carb.

On top of that, the average serving has a whole days recommended amount of vitamin K.

Vitamin K is vital to the proper function of your brain.

This study found that Vitamin K is essential for the synthesis of sphingolipids. These have important cell signaling functions.

Furthermore, research conducted in recent years linked alterations in sphingolipid metabolism to the aging process () and neurodegenerative disorders.

These included  Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (, ).

Nuts:

Another great food for brain health. The American Society for nutrition states:

“only recently have the effects of nut and berry consumption on the brain, different neural systems, and cognition been studied. There is growing evidence that the synergy and interaction of all of the nutrients and other bioactive components in nuts and berries can have a beneficial effect on the brain and cognition. Regular nut consumption, berry consumption, or both could possibly be used as an adjunctive therapeutic strategy in the treatment and prevention of several neurodegenerative diseases and age-related brain”

Walnuts have the additional benefit of containing omega 3 fatty acids. However, all nuts are hugely beneficial both to your general health and to your brain.

Eggs:

Eggs contain a long list of nutrients, and should be included often in your diet.

When it comes to brain health, of particular importance is the fact that eggs contain choline. This is used to manufacture acetylcholine.

It is this neurotransmitter which helps to regulate mood and memory.

Further, eggs also contain vitamins B12 which has been demonstrated as helping to slow mental decline as we age.

So, with their load of B12 and choline, eggs can increase the several functions within the brain and help to slow down decline.

Green Tea

Not exactly a food, but green tea is another substance that reduces inflammation and can protect your brain against many neurodegenerative disorders.

It has also been found to improve memory in this study. The researchers stated that:

“Our findings provide first evidence for the putative beneficial effect of green tea on cognitive functioning, in particular, on working memory processing at the neural system level by suggesting changes in short-term plasticity of parieto-frontal brain connections. Modeling effective connectivity among frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing might help to assess the efficacy of green tea for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia.”

By swapping out one of your daily drinks for a green tea you will be helping your memory and reducing your risk of dementia.

Very often we are led to believe that a certain amount of loss of cognitive function is inevitable as we age.

However, there is now a large body of evidence that suggests that you can keep or enhance the function of you brain through careful food choices.

Consider eliminating high carbohydrate foods, especially ready meals and junk food. Cut back on all processed foods and reduce or avoid sugar completely.

It is also wise to avoid seed oils. These are bad for your health. Choose oils such as olive oil, butter or coconut oil.

Try to include all the foods that are listed here at least a few times a week each.

Most can be eaten every day, and fatty fish need to be consumed at least twice each week.

By including these foods you’ll boost your focus, memory and mood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Food For A Healthy Brain”

  1. Thanks for the great post. I need to refocus the foods that I eat. I have been reading a lot about the keto diet and I may give it a try. I think your website can help me with this.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi John,

      I’m pleased that the article has promped you to think about your diet.

      I’m confident that once you start your keto diet you’re going to be amazed at all the weight loss and health benefits.

      Consider including some of the brain healthy foods that I’ve mentioned here too.

      All the best,

      Judy

      Reply
  2. Great post, it is so important to try and eat as healthy as possible and it is amazing the difference I feel when I do so, more energy, better sleep and yes I can tell my mind is nice and clear. I appreciate the list of foods you recommended a great resource. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Robb,
      Thanks for your comments.

      I agree, you feel much better when eating the right sort of foods. Its great to have the extra focus and energy too.

      Pleased you enjoyed the article.

      All the best,

      Judy

      Reply
  3. Thanks for sharing this article. I like the way you’ve explained the benefits of food for a healthy brain. This is a topic I like to read about a lot. I eat a lot of broccoli, nuts, and eggs, and I drink a lot of green tea and coffee too. I guess that my brain function has improved over time thanks to my diet and lifestyle. Great read! Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Reply
    • Hi Ivan,

      Thanks for your comments.

      It sounds as if you’re already taking care of your health by choosing the right foods.

      Pleased that you’re enjoying livingwellwihketo.com, new articles are regularly posted, so keep checking.

      All the best,

      Judy

      Reply
  4. Thanks for a great article! Lets me know that I am on the right track with the turmeric, I cook with it frequently. I didn’t know that broccoli was high in vitamin K – more reason for me to stop ignoring it so much, lol. I’ll have to start incorporating more broccoli into my diet.

    Great tips, thanks again!

    Reply
  5. I am encouraged every time I read articles like yours. It reminds me how I should keep things in balance and take good care of self.Thank you for taking your time to write this, it is very important I think. Simple changes to lifestyle go a long way.Well done!

    Reply
    • Hi Angee,

      Thanks for your comments.

      It’s always good to know that I’m helping to get the keto/healthy eating message to people.

      You’re completely right; healthy eating, and choosing the right foods will make all the difference to your health.

      Best wishes,

      Judy

      Reply
  6. Wow, such an informative post. We mostly overlook what we eat; thanks for reminding us about the importance of getting our brain to be healthy again. The brain is the most crucial part of our body, and without it, we are as good as dead. Thanks again for the great post; it will help us in a big way.

    Reply
    • Hi Lucky,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I completely agree. Our brain is not always thought of when we make food choices, which is surprising when you stop to think about it!

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the article.

      Best wishes,

      Judy

      Reply
  7. Thank you for your help

    I have been eating most of these foods and now I know I am in the right direction. I think now I will eat more Tuna because this article has given me a reason to

    Reply
    • Hi Thabo,

      Thanks for your comments.

      Pleased you’re already eating most of the foods I’ve mentioned here. Tuna would be a great addition too.

      All the best,

      Judy

      Reply

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