Key nutrients for long term brain health

brain health food

The brain is a phenomenal organ that we are yet to understand fully. What would you be without your brain to direct your thoughts, body and feelings? Although, did you know, your brain needs a constant oxygen supply, and without it, brain cells begin to die? For such a mighty organ, it is surprisingly fragile as well. And it’s not only oxygen that your brain needs.

The brain is the fattiest organ in the body, so fats essential too. And not only this, for long term brain health, your brain relies on some vital nutrients to thrive. Here I will explore the main ones you need to keep your brain switched on.

 

The best natural sources of omega 3s are in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon and herring. And good plant-based options are walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed.

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

You have to start with omega-3 fatty acids when eating for your brain health. They not only promote intelligence and mental clarity but also assist with memory and learning. Studies have revealed that it may help prevent memory deterioration in dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help neutralise brain inflammation, often present in an ageing brain.

The best natural sources of omega 3s are in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon and herring. And good plant-based options are walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed.

That wonderous compound, H20

Did you know that the brain is 75% water? This means that even slight dehydration has a massive impact on brain function and long-term brain health. When you are dehydrated, you also lack essential electrolytes which help with memory and attention. Keep yourself well hydrated every day to ensure your brain stays in a tiptop moisturised state to promote long term health.

Brain boosting vitamins

Your brain needs a medley of vitamins to flourish, but some are more central than others.

B vitamins

The B vitamins are essential as they help create energy in the neurones, and studies have shown that vitamin B helps to reduce stress, migraines, brain fog and depression which are often a factor in brain function decline. Eat foods rich in b vitamins to stay sharp, including leafy greens, organ meats, shellfish, pasture-raised chicken and eggs.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your nerves’ grow and produces neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, essential for brain health and mood. Vitamin D may also reduce destructive brain inflammation and protect neurones, which are paramount for longevity. Skin exposure to sun rays is the optimal way to up level your vitamin D, but fatty fish, egg yolks, red meat and liver are the best food sources if this isn’t possible.

Minerals for mental clarity

Magnesium

Magnesium supports the supply of messages throughout the brain as it helps with the conduction of nerve impulses. As 10% of the population is deficient in magnesium, you should make sure that you are getting enough from your diet such as spinach, almonds and tempeh. Another luxurious way to supply magnesium to your brain is to soak in an Epsom salts bath. The influx of magnesium with the added relaxation, are two brain upgrades for the price of one.

Calcium

Calcium is hugely vital for memory and retrieval of information, so when you don’t get enough, you may find yourself lost for words. For the non-dairy source of calcium, try tinned sardines, tahini and leafy green.

The air you breathe

As well as the food you eat and the water you drink, your brain also blooms from oxygen in the air you breathe. Every minute, more than a litre of blood moves through your brain supplying it with oxygen, so focusing on breath work and ways to encourage deeper breathing such as singing, Pilates and yoga are going to keep your brain health for years to come.

Having clear thinking, mental clarity, and focus are all things we aspire for in our later years. Taking steps today to ensure that your brain has everything it needs to function correctly and prevent it from injury, are the best steps you can take to make your elderly genius a reality. And failing let, you will feel at your best when you feed and nourish your psyche.

References:

Gómez-Pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568-578. doi:10.1038/nrn2421

Author BIO

Victoria Hamilton – Nutritionist BSc. Victoria is one of our Thrive Experts in Nutrition and holds a BSc in nutrition from Institute of Optimum Nutrition and has a BSc in Biochemistry with Immunology