5 of my favourite foods for a happy brain.
There’s so much we can do to optimise brain health and mood, and it starts in the kitchen. The list below is certainly not exhaustive, but they’re some of my favourite options that are easy to get into the diet every day. Our brains consume a lot of energy through our diets, so it’s important we’re supplying quality fuel. Supporting brain health is crucial for our ability to concentrate, learn new things, and improve or maintain memory. Good brain health and reduced brain inflammation can also contribute to a reduced incidence of some forms of depression and other mental health challenges. Here are my 5 favourite foods for a happy brain.
Can you think of another food that looks more like a brain? Walnuts are choc-full of plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acids which can improve brain function and cognition, sharpen memory, and slow mental decline. Other sources of omega-3s include chia seeds, linseeds, wild-caught fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as grass-fed meats.
An essential item in any spice shelf, turmeric is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance which, via its ability to pass through the blood brain barrier, has been associated with improved memory and a reduced incidence of depression. Include it in your cooking or purchase the fresh root and place some peeled and finely sliced turmeric in a warm mug of water with some lemon juice and a grind of black pepper.
This tiny dark blue berry is full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Due to their antioxidant components, blueberries can help lessen inflammation which reduces the risk of some forms of depressive illness. Antioxidant foods can also help to slow cognitive decline, helping to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease. All richly coloured berries are great sources of antioxidants, as are dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), red cabbage, and red grapes.
Eggs: the original superfood. Not only a complete protein; eggs are also a significant source of the essential nutrient choline. Choline is used by the body to create the neurotransmitters responsible for mood and memory. Choline can also be found in almonds (and almond butter), as well as lean meat, poultry, and fish.
Absolute nutritional powerhouses, leafy green vegetables might include spinach, kale, silver beet, and broccoli. These vegetables give us various vitamins and nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin K, folate, beta carotene and essential fatty acids. Magnesium is critical for learning, memory, and the overall health of the nervous system. Vitamin K has been shown to improve memory via its role in the structural maintenance of brain cells. Other rich sources of magnesium include pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and wholegrains.
Whilst the foods listed above are fabulous for our brains, the wide-reaching benefits don’t end with the nervous system. These foods are all-round nutritional powerhouses that will benefit the whole body and, in my opinion, should be added to your shopping list immediately.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, and are looking for personalised support with a naturopathic and functional medicine approach, book an appointment with Naturopath Laura here, or call the clinic on 03 5977 0177.
This article is intended to be informational only and represents the opinion of the author. It is not intended to be used as medical advice and does not take the place of advice from a qualified health care practitioner in a clinical setting. Please check with your healthcare practitioner before embarking upon any of the treatments discussed.