From Mood To Memory: How Food Can Enhance Brain Health
A healthy brain depends on genes, the environment, and lifestyle. We can’t change our genes, and may not be able to alter our environment, but we definitely have control over our lifestyle! Lifestyle consists of diet, stress management, and activity. While each one is critical for maintaining brain health, below details how dietary choices can improve brain health and function.
As the control center of the body, it consists of billions of neurons that send signals through the brain. These signals allow for memory formation, thoughts, and feelings. Our brain makes up 2% of our body weight but requires 20% of our resources. It’s mostly made up of fat and therefore dietary fat in the form of “Omegas” contribute to a healthy brain. Protein provides the necessary amino acids that allow for brain signaling and carbohydrates break down into glucose that provides steady, sustained brain power.
There are many nutrients that keep the brain running smoothly. Here are some general nutrition guidelines on what to focus on when considering improving brain health.
Heart Health is Brain Health
The brain needs constant and adequate blood flow, which provides the supply of oxygen to keep it functioning properly. This means that a healthy heart and vascular system is necessary to maintain a healthy brain! To maintain a smooth vascular system, one without atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), the focus is on fiber and antioxidants. So this means a lot of fruits, especially berries, and a balanced amount of beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
A Happy Gut is a Healthy Brain
Did you know most of the neurotransmitters that contribute to “feeling good” are created in the gut? Balancing the trillions of bacteria, both health promoting and opportunistic, in the gut can greatly improve our mood. Adding in Omega-3 fatty acids (almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, ground flax seeds), iron-rich foods (spinach, legumes, oats, nuts), and even spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and oregano can support a healthy, happy mood.
“B” the Change
B vitamins such as folate, B6 and B12 are critical for improving memory, mood, and maintaining a sharp mind. B vitamins are found in whole grains, mushrooms, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans and potatoes. You can also find a healthy amount of folate in leafy greens (think foliage) and B12 can easily be obtained by supplementation.
A healthy lifestyle is not about restrictions, it’s about creating new habits. The combination of dietary interventions with added activity, intellectual and social stimulation, and quality sleep can make a profound improvement on one’s life. For more information regarding nutrition and brain health, please feel free to contact Registered Dietician, Heather Borders, with Kailo Nutrition at (904)250-0910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.