Hello to you all, I am happy to report school has broken up for summer and I am feeling great having already started a big clear out of my children wardrobes! Am I the only one who feels the thrill of clearing the clutter? Surely not…
Anyway, I have been writing about teen brain health this week and thought I would add a few food suggestions to optimise cognitive health for all of us. *Stay to the end for some summer clean recipes
There is always so much focus on looking good on the outside, that the brain tends to get forgotten about and it is certainly a concern that brain disorders are on the rise. Looking after our mental health with self-care and mindful practice is one thing, but how do we protect our brain with nutrition?
Firstly, it is important to say that a varied natural diet with foods that promote good bacteria in your gut will support the brain, therefore my previous posts on gut health and which foods to include will be beneficial.
Also, we know that exercise and sleep have a large role to play in brain health. I am always wary (although still interested) when science starts to focus on one isolated nutrient or intervention, as it is really a ‘whole approach’ which is going to have the most impact. One nutrient will always work better for health when included as a whole food interacting with a host of other nutrients together.
Just as we should never blame one particular food for bad health, it is always what we do or consume most of the time that counts…
Preventing ageing and supporting cognitive function
Foods high in antioxidants for example berries have been found to influence how well the brain performs by improving mitochondrial function as well as decreasing the rate of ageing in the brain. Vitamin E and alpha lipoic acid are essential for brain health, good sources of these are spinach, broccoli, potatoes, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
Most of us know about the omega 3 benefits to our brain and heart, and it is certainly true that in the countries who consume high levels of omega 3 as part of their diet (Okinawa – Japan for one) and have a lower ratio of omega 6 to 3 have longer and altogether healthier lives. If you eat fish, have 2 to 3 servings per week of oily fish, e.g. salmon, fresh tuna, herring or mackerel. Otherwise obtain your omega 3 from walnuts, flaxseed/linseed and supplement with algae oil.
Here is a link to a source I use at the moment:
Turmeric has been used in ‘ayurvedic’ medicine for centuries and has now been shown to support memory, and maybe the use of this spice contributes to the low rates of Alzheimers in India… The antioxidant named Curcumin is the component of importance within turmeric and to gain a high enough dose a daily helping of the spice or consuming Curcumin in a supplement would be needed. I often sprinkle turmeric and black pepper in my morning lemon water, as the pepper helps the absorption of the curcumin.
Too much food is bad for the brain…
Studies show that too much energy intake from food can contribute to early death and is harmful to our brain health. There has also been research to show that those with ancestors who had an abundance of food are more likely to suffer from a neurological disorder.
a brainy conclusion…
There are many factors to think about here, as there is also the question of exercise and which types of diets have been involved in all of this research, however it is certainly fascinating and a very good reason to look after our health, keep active, sleep well and consume more plants and a variety of natural foods.
A list of brain foods to include in your shopping:
a variety of berries
pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
green leafy vegetables
Recipes of the week!
Lemon and poppy clean bites
#glutenfree #sugarfree #egg free
•contains chia seeds – a good source of omega 3, protein and calcium
- 3 tbsp chia seeds (milled/ground preferred but not essential)
- 150 ml coconut milk
*place these two ingredients into a cup or bowl, mix and leave for 10-20 minutes
- 1tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- 40g buckwheat flour and 40g coconut flour (this could also be 80g blended oats)
- grate the peel of a quarter of a lemon (lemon zest)
- 2 tbsp of erythritol/date nectar or a natural sweetener of your choice
*mix all of the ingredients together and then make into balls, place onto a greaseproof baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes (200 degrees celsius)
These were perfect served with my chocolate cashew cream (recipe posted last week)!
Simply blend 1 frozen banana with a handful of frozen mango (add a little water or nut milk if difficult to blend), add a tsp of vanilla extract and top with some crushed walnuts – yum!
I hope you enjoy the recipes and gain some value here, please get in touch if I can help you further.
Lots of love and health,
Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function
Published in final edited form as:
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jul; 9(7): 568–578.