Top 5 Healthy Brain Foods to Kick Start Your 2018!
Overindulged over the festive season? Feeling in need of a cleanse? We hear you! That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favourite foods to help detox your brain (and your body)!
Curcumin (found in turmeric) is a wonderful polyphenol which has been shown to be neuroprotective (protects neurons from injury or degeneration), anti-inflammatory, enhance neurogenesis (production of new brain cells), and improve cognition and mood (Shaffer, 2016). Turmeric doesn’t just have to be used in curries; it can be used in a stir fry, fried rice, rice salad, or in hidden easily in your ginger bread men when you make them next year! Click here for our favourite recipe.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the optimal structure and function of your brain and nervous system (Shaffer, 2016). The typical Australian or Western diet often has a poor balance of the essential fatty acids, with consumption of far more of the inflammatory types compared with the anti-inflammatory omega-3. Your brain is made up of 60% fat, so it makes sense to be detoxing, building and maintaining your brain with the fats that create better performing and better protected brain cells (Shaffer, 2016). Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish (particularly oily fish) and plant based foods. So, try having some grilled salmon or drizzling your salad with chia seed oil!
3. Dark, leafy greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are great for your brain and general body function! They are nutrient dense and full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. To boost your intake of these nutritious greens, try making your own healthy kale chips, or these yummy Spinach and Kale Muffins which are full of fibre, antioxidants, protein and plant based omega 3 for healthy digestion.
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds and chia seeds are full of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals which are great for your brain and body (Heart Foundation, 2017). Nuts and seeds make a delicious snack, one serve of nuts or seeds is equivalent to 30 g, or a small handful. You can eat these on their own (opt for unsalted or unroasted for optimal benefits), or mixed into a yummy treat such as raw balls.
5. Dark grapes and berries
Polyphenol resveratrol has been shown to increase longevity whilst preserving memory and parts of the microstructure of your brain (Shaffer, 2016). This useful little polyphenol can be found in foods such as dark grapes, grape juice, cranberries and blueberries. A handful of frozen dark grapes can be a delicious treat on those hot, summer days! Berries are also very easy to sneak into a healthy, home-made smoothie or something like this yummy Blueberry Breakfast Bowl.
6. And we can’t help sneaking in a number six – water!
Whilst it is not technically a ‘food’, water is so important in detoxifying your brain and body, and supporting overall health and wellbeing. The Mayo Clinic (2017) recommends you should have about 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluids for men, and about 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) of fluids a day for women through consuming water, other beverages and food. On average, about 20 percent of our daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
For further information about how healthy eating and other lifestyle interventions can help to detoxify your brain and improve cognitive function, please get in touch.
About the author - Lynda Gibbs (Occupational Therapist, The Perth Brain Centre).
Heart Foundation. (2017). Nuts and seeds. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/protein-foods/nuts-and-seeds
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Water: How much should you drink every day?. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
Shaffer, J. (2016). Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice: Building Brain Power for Health. Frontiers in Psychology. Vol 7: 1118.