By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove
Brain health is critically important because we use our brain throughout our lives. When we’re young, our brains help us develop motor skills, learn and study new information. As we age, we want to preserve our memory and ensure our cognitive ability stays sharp and focused.
Our daily choices have a significant impact on our brain health. Specifically, what we choose to fill our plate with can either help support or deteriorate our brain function. Here are some of the best foods to integrate into your diet regularly for a healthy brain.
Oily fish like sockeye salmon, herring, and sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, a good fat that is crucial for supporting the development of new brain and nerve cells. Ideally, you should aim for at least two portions of oily fish per week – but be sure the fish is wild-caught as opposed to farm raised. Farm raised fish have been shown to contain high levels of mercury and toxins. You can also take fish oil as a supplement. Nordic Naturals is a high-quality brand that we sell at our office.
Nuts and Seeds
If you are vegan, vegetarian or do not like eating fish, there are other food options available that are rich in omega 3’s. Flax seeds are a plant source of good fats. You can purchase flax seeds that are already ground into a powder and are virtually flavorless. Flax seed powder can be sprinkled over food, added to salads or blended into smoothies for a nutrient boost. Walnuts are another good source of omegas. Four walnut halves a day contain a sufficient amount of healthy fat and also vitamin E, which can help protect against Alzheimer’s.
Coconut oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help reduce inflammation in the brain. It is ideal to use when cooking at high heat. You can also add some coconut oil to your morning coffee for an additional boost in alertness.
Avocados are one of my favorite snacks and are actually considered a fruit. Avocados have the lowest amount of sugar and highest protein content of any fruit. Avocados are packed with healthy monosaturated fats, which are responsible for keeping blood sugar levels steady and great for your skin. Avocados also contain water soluble vitamins C and B, which are not stored in the body and need to be replenished daily. Additional nutrients hiding out in this unassuming fruit include folate and vitamin K, which help prevent blood clots in the brain, and improve memory and concentration.
Turmeric is a root that has been used for its healing properties and health benefits for centuries. Curcumin, an active compound found in turmeric root, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that has been shown in studies to help clear the amyloid plaques in the brain that contribute to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can be taken in high doses daily to help with arthritis and joint pain, as well. In order to experience the anti-inflammatory effects, you need about 500 to 1,000 mg per day. Turmeric powder can be added to eggs in the morning or can be consumed as a tea.
Broccoli is considered a low-calorie superfood. Eat all your heart (or brain) desires! Broccoli is packed with vitamin K, which supports blood vessels in the brain, and vitamin C, which boosts the immune system. It’s also high in fiber, so you’ll feel full quickly while eating it.
Celery is low in calories but high in nutrients and antioxidants, making it a great snack if you are looking to boost your brain and shed some stubborn quarantine pounds. Most people eat celery stalks, but the leaves and seeds can be added to soups, stir fries or juiced for a super hydration boost.
Beets contain nutrients to boost energy and performance, enhance blood flow to the brain, and help filter your blood of toxins. My favorite way to eat them is pickled. Simply boil the beets until tender, add salt and apple cider vinegar, and store in the refrigerator in a glass container in the juice they were boiled in. Beets are great as a snack or salad topper. Just be sure to enjoy them in moderation, as they are high in natural sugar.
Blueberries are a delicious way to protect your brain from stress and degeneration. A small but mighty berry, blueberries are one of the most antioxidant rich foods and include vitamin C, K and fiber.
Yes – chocolate can help boost brain health! Dark chocolate is full of brain supporting antioxidants. The darker the chocolate, the more health benefits. It’s perfectly fine to consume a square or two of dark chocolate each day, just be sure it’s at least 70% cacao and minimally processed.
Start incorporating some of these foods into your diet and enjoy the brain-boosting benefits! By making smart daily choices, you can help maintain your mental clarity and stay sharp, while preventing future disease.
Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.