What are the best brain foods and supplements?
Start with brain health. The key to health in old age is to prevent disease before it occurs.
Consuming a nutrient dense diet from birth that includes high vitamin C and E content is fundamental for long-term health. It may extend your life 10 healthy years.
Holford (2010) suggests supplementing with up to 1g of vit C and 75mg vit E for each decade of age. An eighty year old may therefore benefit from 8g of vit C and 600mg of vit E.
How To Keep Your Brain Healthy
According to Holford (2004) age related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease are the result of years of taxing the body of resources. The result? Inflammation and pressure on its ability to remove toxins.
It is suggested therefore that Alzheimer’s disease is both preventable and reversible in the early stages.
Avoiding the drug cycle may well reduce this stress on the body’s resources from toxins. Many of us begin taking painkillers or steroids, progressing possibly to antibiotics in the presence of infection.
Problematically drugs treat symptoms not causes, and the resultant irritation of the gut and leaky intestinal wall cause further problems.
A leaky intestinal wall means toxins can enter the body, further taxing the detoxification resources of the body.
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) drugs such as ibuprofen are in fact poisons that require the liver to work overtime. Holford (2010)
Treating the cause rather than the symptom will avoid this dilemma. Permeability of the gut wall and its balance of bacteria are important in reducing the absorption of toxic substances.
Known as dysbiosis – the permeability of the gut can be tested for with a urine test as can the extent to which the liver has been overloaded.
Since dysbiosis is dependent on enzymes and nutrients this overload can be undone.
Fix your gut by eating what happen to be some of the best brain foods. A nutrient dense diet rich in vitamins, minerals and enzyme. Supplementation can also play a part in restoring the ability of the body to detoxify. This will reduce oxidation and potential for reduced brain function.
Toxins That Affect Your Brain
How to intoxicate:
• Food additives
• Environmental toxins
• Pesticides in food
• Food allergens
Leads to dysbiosis:
• Bacterial overgrowth
• Fungal overgrowth
Leads to gut permeability made worse by:
• Anti-inflammatory drugs
Leads to overload:
• Exacerbated by a lack of essential nutrients
Results in unsafe toxins.
Best Brain Food And Supplements To Detoxify
How to detoxify:
• Healthy unadulterated food
• Vitamins and minerals
• Essential fats – omega 3 fish oil
• Digestive enzymes
• Beneficial gut bacteria
• Vitamin A
• Antioxidants healing the gut
• B vitamins for the liver
• Antioxidants for the liver
• Glutathione and a range of amino acids
Results in safe toxins.
Alzheimer’s And Risks To Brain Health
Other associated risk factors that have been significantly linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia include cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and diabetes, all of which may well be preventable.
A primary cause of the decline in central nervous system (CNS) function is the oxidation and inflammation of brain cells.
Some Of The Best Brain Foods
Increasing your intake healthy brain foods. Foods containing antioxidants vitamins E and C combined with omega 3 EPA and DHA fats will reduce the risk.
Reduce homocysteine levels through increased folate, vitamin B12 and B6.
Cortisol-raising stress levels may be reduced with magnesium. Regular eating and getting enough sleep will also decrease risk of dementia.
Acetylcholine is a fundamental component of brain function that begins to decline with the degeneration of brain cells.
There is evidence to suggest an intake of phosphatidyl choline (PC), phosphatidyl serine (PS) and dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) may aid brain regeneration possibly by synthesising acetylcholine and therefore improving cognition.
Crook (1991) supplemented 149 subjects displaying age related memory decline with 300mg of PS or a placebo.
The study showed 12 weeks supplementation to improve subjects’ memories to levels equal to people twelve years younger. Possibly even more important to PS is PC (the precursor to the nutrient Choline) supplementation.
The important neurotransmitter acetylcholine is synthesised from this nutrient and is essential for muscular, sensory control and memory.
A lack of acetylcholine exhibits symptoms including a dry mouth, lethargy, poor memory and a reduction in dreaming, and is suggested to be a major cause of senile dementia (Pyapali 1998).
Acelylcholine is dependent on Choline, an enzyme dependent on vitamin B5. Combined supplementation of these have proved to be useful in age related memory decline, improving brain function and memory.
Lecithin is the best source of choline and is also a source of phospholipids.
Purchased from regular health food shops these can be in the form of tablets or granules to be sprinkled on food.
Ensure quality of at least 30% PC content. Poor absorption rates require large quantities of lecithin consumption for an effect to be seen (1 tablespoon daily may help). Rich sources of DMAE include anchovies and sardines.
Pyroglutamate is an amino acid that nootropics can be derived from. Found in fruit and vegetables it has been discovered that Pyroglutamate is present in brain and cerebrospinal fluid.
Nootropic drugs (variations of pyroglutamate) may be prescribed to improve brain function including memory with no toxic side effect.
The prescription of nootropics has been shown to improve the communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, increasing the number of acetylcholine receptors and shown to be particularly effective for those with dyslexia (Pepu 1990).
The effectiveness of nutrients such as PC, PS, Omega 3 fatty acids, pantothenic acid, DMAE and pyroglutamate in sufferers of a decline in brain function may be enhanced if taken simultaneously (Bartus et al. 1981)
Negative Impacts On Brain Function
Chemicals shown to adversely impact intelligence include alcohol and surprisingly caffeine, which many regard to enhance concentration.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar – not exactly the best brain food – has been shown to reduce IQ by 25 points according to a study by Shauss 1983.
Refined carbohydrates are also attributed to aggressive behaviour, anxiety, hyperactivity, attention deficit, depression, eating disorders, fatigue, learning difficulties and pre menstrual tension (Holford 2010).
Refined Foods And Health
The regular consumption of refined foods has been associated with:
- Aggressive behaviour
- Attention deficit
- Eating disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Pre menstrual tension
Metals Affect Your Brain
Excessive consumption of metals that exacerbate oxidation including aluminium, mercury and copper (especially important in hard water areas) and a reduction in exposure to these will further reduce risk of dementia.
Exposure to lead, cadmium and aluminium accumulate in the brain reducing intelligence, memory and concentration.
It is recommended that if you are displaying signs of memory decline and you have amalgam fillings you should consider having these removed as even trace levels of mercury ca have adverse effects on memory (Holford 2010).
Best Brain Supplements
• High dose multivitamin and mineral supplement
• Antioxidant complex supplement
• Vitamin C
• Brain food formula
• Omega 3 fish oils
• Homocystene-lowering B complex
• Lecithin granules
Taking nutritional supplements as we age can be beneficial. A combination of a low stress lifestyle lifestyle, and a high nutrient diet with some supplementary assistance may well prove effective in the prevention and reversal of early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
I hope this gives you some ideas as to some of the best brain foods and supplements. I recommend sourcing them from quality health food shops.
If you are wondering which supplements to use – if any – then this very quick essential supplements guide may help. In particular if you want to improve your health and lose weight.
For further help with nutrition and health you may be interested in joining me with skills coaching over at One Habit Nutrition. Once you’re a member you’ll learn food skills so you can eat, move and live better. Learn more about online nutrition coaching.
Finally, I have not mentioned exercise. Recent research demonstrates its link with mental health. So eat well and exercise, supplement as advised and enjoy your health!