Omega-3's: Omega-3 fatty acids are used in the brain to build nerve cells, maintain connections, and support blood flow in the brain. More specifically, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found primarily in fish oil, are essential for normal brain function and development. Omega-3- fatty acids are associated with increased blood flow to the brain, which supports memory and decreases the risk of cognitive decline.
Foods sources: tuna, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and avocados
Pro tip: Supplementing your diet with fish oil will provide a consistent source of this essential, brain-boosting nutrient. Contact me for more info!
Folate: Facilitates the creation of DNA and RNA, responsible for cell regeneration, especially for neurotransmitters. Maintaining good folate levels protects the brain and can help slow cognitive decline.
Foods sources: kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, and fortified grains (as tolerated)
Pro tip: Before supplementing with folate, discuss medication interactions with your health care provider and dietitian.
L-theanine: While L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid, it may affect level of brain chemicals, serotonin, and dopamine. Maintaining the proper balance of serotonin and dopamine is essential for managing stress levels while supporting a healthy mood, sleep, and overall emotional well-being. L-theanine is also associated with improved attention and mental focus which may result in enhanced mental performance.
Food sources: green tea and black tea as well as some types of mushrooms
Pro tip: L-theanine is classified “generally recognized as safe,” meaning it is believed to be safe when used as a supplement. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use L-theanine.
Vitamin K: This fat-soluble vitamin protects the nervous system by participating in the breakdown of fats in the brain cell membranes. Vitamin K plays an important role in the anti-aging process and emerging research shows it may be powerful in preventing Alzheimers.
Food sources: leafy green and cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts and broccoli
Pro Tip: Eat your greens! One cup of raw spinach or 1/2 cup broccoli a day will help you meet the minimum requirements for vitamin K.
Water: Water is an essential nutrient for all body functions, including the brain. Being dehydrated decreases blood flow to the brain impairs brain function, and can result in a 10 percent cognitive decline. On the other hand, being hydrated results in better concentration, enhanced short-term memory, improved focus, and decreased mental fatigue. If you are looking for a quick boost in clarity and focus, drink more water!
Food sources: water along with fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, oranges, strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, and more
Pro tip: For optimal brain function, drink water throughout the day—don't wait until you become thirsty.
Brain foods are nutrient-dense foods that supply many of the micronutrients that the average Western diet lacks. Health care research indicates that the most vital strategy to preserve the brain is to ensure your diet consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Choose plant protein and fish more often than red meat. Consume fats from plant sources such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds and limit intake of saturated fats.
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