The Benefits of Neuronutrition: for Brain Health and Longevity
As promised, and in recognition of National Brain Injury Awareness month, today, I delve into the fascinating topic of “Neuronutrition”.
Read on to discover what nutrients fuel the brain, what can devastate it, who can benefit from neuronutrition, and some healthy recipes you can try today to start getting your brain in optimal working order.
What Exactly is Neuronutrition?
Simply put, neuronutrition refers to the process of feeding your brain for optimal performance.
By providing your brain with specific nutrients that support neurological functions and processes, you can improve the health of your brain, strengthen memory, restore cognitive function after a brain injury, maintain or even optimize cognitive function as you age, and improve personal productivity.
Nourishing your brain with the right nutrients can even help prevent age-related cognitive decline and related disease like Alzheimer’s.
The importance of what we eat and feed our brain cannot be understated. Feeding the brain and nourishing the mind can increase certain neurotransmitters that have a positive effect on moods, cognition, and energy levels. At the same time, what we avoid eating (non-nutritive, inflammatory, or toxic foods), can also go a long way in promoting neurological health.
Who Benefits from Neuronutrition?
As neuronutrition works to feed the brain and nourish the mind, everyone can benefit!
It is especially helpful for:
- Those who have sustained a brain injury.
- Executives who want to enhance cognition and personal performance.
- Those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, or those who want to prevent its occurrence .
- People with autism, ADHD, MS, or any other inflammatory condition.
- Those who are increasingly forgetful, ask the same questions over and over, and have difficulty keeping track of things.
- Those who have wandering thoughts and difficulty staying organized or multitasking.
- People who experience brain fog, fatigue, weakness, extreme exhaustion after mental or physical exertion, or never wake feeling refreshed.
- Those who experience mood swings, a short temper, a lack of patience, or depression.
You insure your car, your home, your boat, and even expensive pieces of jewelry. But have you ever considered taking proactive steps to care for your brain? By providing it with the right nutrients, you can ensure your most valuable asset will remain in optimal working order. For many, it can even improve! That’s right, by treating your brain right, you can get even more out of it that you thought possible!
Protecting and nourishing your brain is even more important if you have sustained a brain injury or are starting to see a decline in brain energy and function.
How Does Neuronutrition Work?
Your brain is the first part of your body to suffer when you are chronically inflamed. Once your brain’s mitochondria do become inflamed, they have a harder time generating energy - any kind of energy. This reduced ability to produce energy now, can lead to the development of chronic diseases later on.
This is where the science of neuronutrition comes in. It works by providing an optimal supply of substances that ensure optimal functioning of the neurons and the brain, while protecting it from damaging circumstances, like free-radical formation, lack of oxygen, lack of glucose, or damage by neurotoxic substances.
Neuronutrition, then, works to reduce both inflammation in the brain and oxidative stress while restoring energy production to dysfunctional mitochondria. It relies partially on the specific nutrients you provide the brain, and partially on what you avoid.
Top 10 Foods to Feed the Brain and Nourish the Mind
1. Wild Salmon
Wild Alaskan salmon is the number 1 food in which to feed your brain. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, micronutrients, and micro-minerals, wild salmon can improve memory, increase focus, and banish brain fog.
One word of caution: stick to wild-caught Alaskan salmon, as farmed and regular wild-caught salmon can be loaded with heavy metals, toxins, and environmental contaminants.
Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The healthy fats found in avocados help keep blood sugar levels stable and provide your brain with powerful nutrients. They are packed with vitamin K and folate, which help prevent blood clots in the brain as they improve memory and concentration.
Avocados also contain vitamin C and B vitamins which need to be replenished daily, as they are used up quickly, especially when stressed.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is great brain food! As an anti-inflammatory, it can reduce inflammation in the brain - especially important if you’ve suffered a brain injury. It also helps with memory loss as you age and has the added benefits of destroying bad bacteria in our gut.
These little bundles of “brain berries” are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fibre. They help protect our brains from inflammation, oxidative damage, and deterioration.
Studies also show that blueberries increase life-span, slow age-related cognitive decline, and improve cardiovascular function! So do yourself a favour and eat some today! Eat them fresh or use them frozen, but be sure to get your daily dose of nature’s candy!
The high levels of vitamin K and choline in broccoli can help sharpen your memory. Broccoli is also loaded with the antioxidant vitamin C, and has loads of fibre.
6. Whole Eggs
Organic, free-range eggs from hens that have been allowed to eat grass and roam where they want, contain large amounts of choline and twice as many omega 3 fatty acids as GMO eggs. Choline is important for brain health, vital for fetal brain development, and can also increase your mood.
Concerned about cholesterol? Don’t fret - studies show that eating eggs has no effect on cholesterol levels of healthy adults and might, in fact, help raise good cholesterol levels.
Beets are one of my favourite root vegetables - which is great because they reduce inflammation, are high in antioxidants, and help rid your blood of toxins. Moreover, the natural nitrates in beets actually increase blood flow to the brain, which can improve cognitive performance.
8. Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and romaine lettuce are loaded with vitamins A and K, which can help fight inflammation, keep bones strong, and can stave off dementia - all great reasons to eat your greens!
9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich polyphenols found in olive oil, a little drizzle on your salad can improve learning and memory while reversing the age-related cognitive decline. EVOO also helps break down substances toxic to the brain that induce Alzheimer’s disease.
Be sure to treat your olive oil with care, as it is easily damaged by light, oxygen, and heat. For these reasons, only use it to drizzle on top of already-cooked food or salads, and never heat it past medium.
10. Bone Broth
You probably know that bone broth is healing for your gut - but did you also know it’s healing for your brain?
Bone broth is chock full of health benefits including giving your immune system a boost, combating a leaky gut, improving joint health, and reducing allergy symptoms. The collagen in bone broth can also reduce intestinal inflammation, while the proteins in it help improve memory.
In general, brain foods rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals provide energy and help protect against brain-related diseases. So, by focusing on providing our bodies with whole, nutrient-dense foods that benefit both our gut and brain, we’re actually benefiting our minds and bodies, as well.
And if you are not used to preparing salmon or wonder just what to do with an avocado, be sure to check out my three new recipes, Salmon-Stuffed Avocado Boats, One Pan Salmon, Kale, and Cabbage, and Smoked Salmon Salad for inspiration.
Of course, just as important as what we should eat for optimal brain health, is what we should avoid.
Generally speaking, any substance that contains toxins or increases inflammation should be avoided. Some of these include:
- The inflammatory proteins found in dairy, gluten, trans fats, and vegetable oils.
- Artificial sweeteners, which are toxic to your brain, even in small amounts.
- Mold toxins typically found in grains, coffee beans, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, and corn.
- Fried food. Avoid frying any food, even in healthy fats, because when cooked at high temperatures, they become just as damaged and toxic as trans fats.
- Neurotoxins found in GMOs, fluoride, mercury, sugar, and alcohol. Buy organic whenever possible, as conventional and GMO produce are commonly sprayed with toxic pesticides.
For anyone wanting to improve cognitive performance or maintain optimal brain function for life, avoiding all of these is important. They are even more important for anyone trying to heal from a brain injury or those who have experienced signs of age-related cognitive decline. For most, consciously avoiding these brain-damaging substances can notably improve brain function.
In summary, by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain while restoring energy production, our most valuable asset will be well-cared for and pay us back continually for years to come. Neuronutrition can also be used if you want to take measures now to prevent cognitive decline associated with aging, or simply want to improve mental focus, cognition, and personal productivity. Whatever your motivation, feeding your brain can nourish your mind.
Stay tuned next week, for my final post during National Brain Injury Awareness month about the Ketogenic diet and the brain. Be sure to register for my newsletter so you don’t miss out.
And keep checking in, as I will be offering an exciting new program for anyone who is looking to improve cognitive performance and would like to learn more about nutrition for the brain!
In the meantime, please let me know what you think. Email me, or add your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!