Which foods promote brain health?
Posted on May 05 2022
There is a lot of information out there about what foods promote good brain health.
While there is no magic bullet which guarantees good brain function, most nutritionists agree that a healthy, balanced diet with foods rich in Omega-3s, B vitamins and antioxidants can help.
These nutrients, among others, are known to support good brain health which, if taken regularly either through the food you eat or by natural supplementation, can improve your mental function and help slow the onset of the age-related deterioration of your brain cells.
It is thought the brain uses around 20% of the average person’s calories. This means it needs the right amount of fuel every day to function normally. The type of calories you consume is also important.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help build and repair brain cells. Antioxidants, meanwhile, help reduce the damage caused to your brain cells by oxidative stress and inflammation, which if left unchecked can lead to long-term neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Too much alcohol, processed sugar and other stimulants like caffeine can also impair or interrupt normal brain function, making it more difficult to concentrate, focus, or remember things. However, caffeine, in moderation, can actually be good for your brain, but we’ll come to that later.
In the meantime, if you want to know what (which) foods promote brain health, read on.
THE IMPORTANCE OF OMEGA-3s FOR BRAIN HEALTH
Omega-3 fatty acids are arguably the single most important nutrient when it comes to promoting good brain function. The average brain is made up of around 60% fat. Half of that comes from Omega-3s, which your body uses to build brain and nerve cells.
Omega-3s can help to slow age-related mental decline and the onset of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, boost mental health and ward off depression. On the other hand, Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to learning impairments and memory problems.
So, Omega-3s are a vital brain-boosting nutrient, which you can’t afford to miss out on.
Getting enough Omega-3s in your diet, however, can be tricky. The best place to find them is oily fish. Mackerel, sardines, trout, herring and salmon are all excellent sources of Omega-3s.
Nuts and seeds, avocado and plant oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil or canola oil are also high in Omega-3s.
And if you’re concerned you’re not getting enough Omega-3s from your diet alone, then natural supplements for brain health can help.
HOW MUCH OMEGA-3s FOR BRAIN HEALTH?There is no official recommended daily allowance for Omega-3s, as different health organisations around the world each have their own guidelines. However, it’s thought that taking between 250mg to 500mg of Omega-3s daily should be sufficient for most healthy adults.
Most children and toddlers should aim for between 50mg-100mg per day.
There are, however, official guidelines from many health authorities around the world which state that pregnant women should increase their usual daily Omega-3 intake by an extra 200mg before, during, and after pregnancy.
WHAT IS THE BEST COCONUT OIL FOR BRAIN HEALTH?Coconut oil is free from cholesterol and trans-fats. As well as boosting brain function and health, it has several benefits, including improving the way your body regulates insulin, enhancing thyroid function and promoting healthier skin and hair.
It also has powerful antioxidant and antibiotic properties. There are many different brands of coconut oil available for use in cooking and eating, and we’re not going to recommend one over another.
However, there are some things you should look out for if you want to incorporate more coconut oil into your diet. For the most benefit, you should choose coconut oil that is organic, virgin, non-hydrogenated, and cold-pressed.
Cooking with and eating coconut oil isn’t the only way you can benefit from its brain-boosting powers.
Coconut oil is used widely in aromatherapy, particularly as a carrier oil for massage, which can help alleviate any stresses and strains and help you switch off and relax. For an uplift in mood, why not try adding a few drops to your bath?
It’s also packed full of Vitamin C, so is excellent for soothing dry, sore or sensitive skin.
WHICH OTHER FOODS ARE GOOD FOR BRAIN HEALTH?Oily fish and coconut oil aside, there are a few other foods which help to promote brain function as part of a healthy balanced diet. These include:
As we said earlier, too much coffee can overstimulate the brain and cause spikes and slumps in concentration and focus. However, studies have found that drinking coffee in moderation can help boost alertness and mood. Fresh ground coffee is also high in natural antioxidants which can help prevent the damage to your brain cells caused by oxidative stress.
Much like coffee, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants – flavonoids – which can enhance memory and help slow down age-related mental deterioration. Eating chocolate has also been found to help your body release ‘feel-good’ hormones which help improve memory, mood and mental wellbeing.
Although most fresh vegetables are good for you, dark, leafy greens are particularly good sources of antioxidants and Vitamin K, a fat-soluble nutrient that helps the formation of healthy brain cells.
Oranges, lemons, grapefruit and lime all contain high amounts of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which helps fight the damage caused to brain cells by free radicals.
Like coffee, green tea contains natural caffeine which, when taken in moderation, can improve alertness, memory, concentration and focus. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid which increases the frequency of alpha waves in the brain. This can help you to relax and unwind without feeling tired.
WHICH SUPPLEMENTS TO TAKE FOR BRAIN HEALTHThere are plenty of natural sources of brain-boosting nutrients, including Omega-3s, B vitamins and antioxidants, which you can incorporate into your diet to improve your brain health and function.
However, if you are concerned, you might not be getting enough through your diet alone, then natural supplements can help top-up any shortfalls.
Omega 3-6-9 Flax Seed Oil capsules are a rich source of fatty acids which provide the building blocks for healthy brain cell membranes. Vitamin B-Complex, meanwhile, provides a natural combination of eight B vitamins which deliver an array of health benefits and help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
And Brain Protex with Huperzine is rich in potent antioxidants which promote good brain health, especially in people over 50 years of age. Huperzine is known for improving mental clarity and function and reducing age-related memory loss.
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