We all know that eating healthy is a good thing, but how much do we really know? And how good are we at making healthier choices?

A regular and balanced diet rich with essential amino acids, omega oils, minerals and vitamins will ensure a vibrant and sharp memory. Eat these foods to give your brain the nutrition it deserves!

“Smart” foods for your brain:

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1. Blueberries or  “Brainberries”

These delicious berries are full of powerful antioxidants and protect the brain from oxidative stress which can eliminate free-radical damage that causes aging.  Additionally, they possess neuroprotective properties that can delay the onset of age-related memory loss (such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia) by guarding brain cells from damage caused by chemicals, plaque or trauma. They also combat inflammation, another factor in aging.  Animal studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of the participating test subjects. Ann Kulze, MD, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality, recommends adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any form — fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried.

2. Fish

Protein, an important component in the making of neurotransmitters, is essential to improve mental performance. Aside from being an excellent source of high quality protein, fish are packed with essential oils, such as omega-3, which protect the brain and support its development and functioning. Deep-sea fish have the highest amounts of fatty acids; they include salmon, sea bass, halibut, mackerel and sardines.

Wild salmon. Wild salmon is recommend for its “cleanliness” and the fact that it is in plentiful supply. Omega-3’s also contain anti-inflammatory substances. Other oily fish that provide the benefits of omega-3s are sardines and herring; a 4-ounce serving, two to three times a week.

 3. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are wonder foods for your brain. Packed with protein and essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also chockfull of the amino acid – arginine, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release growth hormones, a substance that is known to be less present in the body after age 35; this is a real anti-aging bonus for your brain!

Whip up a batch of my “Anti-Aging Brain Mix” and eat a small handful in between meals as a daily snack to nourish and support your brain.

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup of dried goji berries (also known as lycium berry and easily found in health food stores)

1/2 cup dried apricots

Nuts and seeds are also great sources of vitamin E. Higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, or un-hydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts.

nuts - Essential Nutrients for Brain Health

 4. Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all rich in choline, an essential nutrient for memory and brain health. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which contributes to healthy and efficient brain processes. As we age, our body’s natural choline output declines, and its neurochemical action weakens. You can eat choline-rich foods to increase your production of acetylcholine, which will improve your brain power. Other sources of choline include eggs, soybeans, peanuts, black beans and kidney beans.

 5. Microalgae

Microalgae from the ocean and uncontaminated lakes, including blue-green algae, spirulina, chlorella, seaweed and kelp are easy-to-digest, high-protein and high-energy supplements – and contain over a 100 trace minerals! Available at your health food store, microalgae can often be found as powders that you dissolve in juice or as flakes you sprinkle on your food.

6. Green Tea

Green tea prevents  thee presence of an enzyme known to be linked with Alzheimer’s disease and is also rich in poly-phenols (antioxidants that help prevent premature brain aging). Drink two cups a day to get these benefits.

 7. Avocados

Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health.  True, the avocado is a fatty fruit, but it contains monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow.  In other words, a healthy blood flow means a healthy brain.  Avocados also lower blood pressure, which will lower the risk for hypertension (hypertension is linked to the decline in cognitive abilities).

8. Whole grains

Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice can reduce the risk for heart disease. Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow. If you promote cardiovascular health, you’re promoting good flow to the organ system, including the brain.

oats - Makeover for Your Brain

VITAMINS AND MINERALS

Why does your child need vitamins and minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are the essential nutrients that keep the brain in tune. They are key to building and rebuilding the brain. They mainly come from fruits, vegetables and wholefoods. It is known that studies giving children supplements show improved IQ.

How do I ensure that my child is having enough?

Make sure that they eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day

Choose wholefoods, not refined foods

Give them a chewable multi-vitamin and mineral supplements.

Lifestyle factors such as having a calcium-rich diet and exercising frequently can keep bones healthy and minimise the risk of fractures. Sunlight exposure is also crucial for the body to absorb the necessary, Vitamin D.

What are vitamins?

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods such as animal fats, including butter and lard, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish.While your body needs these vitamins every day to work properly, you do not need to eat foods containing them every day. This is because your body stores these vitamins in your liver and fatty tissues for future use.  However, if you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful to the body.

Fat-soluble vitamins are:

vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K

Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so you need to have them more frequently. Minerals are necessary for three main reasons:

1. Building strong bones and teeth

2. Controlling body fluids inside and outside cells

3. Turning the food you eat into energy

Minerals are found in foods such as meat, grains (including cereal and bread), fish, milk and dairy foods, vegetables, fruit (especially dried fruit) and nuts.

Essential minerals include calcium and iron, although there are also many other types of minerals that are important for maintaining a healthy diet.

Want to learn more on the relationship between nutrients and brain health? Have a look at these 10 research-based facts on how diet affects the brain.

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