June 14, 2020
Key Nutrients To Keep Your Brain Healthy
We all know that eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things to do in order to maximize the quality of life. The usual benefits that come to mind when we think of eating healthy are reducing excess body fat, reducing cholesterol to maintain cardiovascular health, and allowing the digestive system to function properly.
Every one of the aforementioned benefits is certainly true and very strongly correlated to the quality of life. Ironically, one important reason to maintain a proper diet that is grossly understated is the positive effects this habit has on the brain!
The brain may be the control center of the body, but this organ depends on a necessary supply and nutrients in exactly the same way the bodily components it manages. The focus of this article will be to illustrate a few key nutrients that allow the brain to maintain its heavy workload and optimize overall function.
Omega-3 is what is known as an essential fatty acid. This means that our bodies do not naturally produce this substance; therefore they must be supplied solely through the foods we consume. Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in a variety of foods that meet the needs of those adhering to a wide variety of diets. Oily fish products such as salmon and mackerel are loaded with this substance, while those following a vegan diet can turn to various seeds such flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.
Not only does omega-3 ensure the proper production of the hormone responsible for feelings of well-being, serotonin, consuming adequate amounts of this nutrient has repeatedly been linked to slowing cognitive decline and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease! This benefit was reported, as in many other research articles, by a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Kulzow et al.).
This nutrient is yet another tool in consuming a diet that supports optimal brain function. Vitamin K is known to aid in the function of neurotransmitters, which are basically the vehicles of the brain that carry information along the synapses.
Synapses can be thought of as the highway system of the brain in which information is shared. This remarkable benefit of Vitamin K is supported in a report published in the journal, Frontiers in Neurology, entitled “The Relationships Between Vitamin K and Cognition: A Review of Current Evidence (Ludovico et al.).
To make sure you are consuming enough vitamin K, make an effort to consume various green leafy vegetables such as broccoli.
Including the fact that turmeric is a delicious herb added to many food recipes. The implications that an adequate intake of this herb has on the brain are quite interesting. Turmeric is known to contain the powerful antioxidant, curcumin, which as been shown time and time again to both enhance memory and stimulate the production of new brain cells.
The well-known research journal, Geroscience, described a study entitled, “Efficacy of curcumin for age-associated cognitive decline: a narrative review of preclinical and clinical studies” (Sarker et al.) in which researchers discovered a positive correlation between the consumption of curcumin and cognitive decline.
While this herb is probably best known for its role in creating many curry dishes, turmeric can also be used as a tasty additive to many other foods.
A healthy diet should be a priority for every individual for an immense list of reasons. Given that the nutrients we consume are quite literally the fuel source for the body, every effort should be made to ensure our engines are able to safely keep us on the road for the long haul!
Alisi, L., Cao, R., Angelis, C. D., Cafolla, A., Caramia, F., Cartocci, G., … Fiorelli, M. (2019). The Relationships Between Vitamin K and Cognition: A Review of Current Evidence. Frontiers in Neurology, 10. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00239
Külzow, N., Witte, A. V., Kerti, L., Grittner, U., Schuchardt, J. P., Hahn, A., & Flöel, A. (2016). Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 51(3), 713–725. DOI: 10.3233/jad-150886
Sarker, M. R., & Franks, S. F. (2018). Efficacy of curcumin for age-associated cognitive decline: a narrative review of preclinical and clinical studies. GeroScience, 40(2), 73–95. DOI: 10.1007/s11357-018-0017-z