Diet & Nutrition

cognitive enhancement with food
Food and happiness
brain food connection

FOODS TO OPTIMISE BRAIN HEALTH

The study of diet upon human performance has long been a topic of considerable research. As research continues, we are discovering just how vital diet is, not only for optimum bodily health, but for brain health too.

 

When we think of good brain health, we might expect good functioning in processes such as mood, attention, inhibitory control, memory and cognition. To achieve optimal function in each of these areas requires supplementing or boosting our consumption of certain foods and eliminating or reducing our intake of others. Let’s start by looking at the foods we can consume to maximise our brain health in each of these areas.

 

Mood

Several studies using treatment and placebo control groups have reported that the mood of participants in the treatment groups improved with supplementation of Thiamin. Participants reported other beneficial effects such as greater self-confidence, less fatigue and a general sense of well-being (Mattson, 2002). Thiamin (a B vitamin) is found in whole grains, lean pork, liver, kidneys, nuts (especially cashews, peanuts, brazil nuts, pistachios and pine nuts). It is also present in yeast extract (Vegemite), malted milk powders (Milo) and cereals fortified with vitamin B1 (Nutri-Grain).

 

In the past, a lack of folate has been associated with symptoms of depression, and deficiency in B12 with psychosis and cognitive impairment. Studies appear to support these associations. A particular case study involving a 16-year-old male who presented with symptoms of depression and psychotic features due to an inability to absorb B12, saw no recurrence of psychotic features and an elevation of mood six months post treatment (Tufan et al., 2012). Foods that are rich in B12 include liver, kidney, egg yolk and legumes such as lentils, beans, and starches such as potato, sweet potato and wholegrain breads. Vegetables and fruit such as spinach, beetroot, broccoli, asparagus, banana, oranges and peaches also contain these vitamins.

 

Iron is well documented as being vital for brain development and structure in infants and children. The maintenance of healthy iron levels is essential throughout the lifespan. In children, iron deficiency has been associated with poorer achievement in school and cognitive tests. Studies have linked iron deficiency in women with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Most at risk of iron deficiency are women, vegetarians and those who maintain a poor diet. The best source of iron is from animal products such as red meat and offal (liver). Chicken, duck, turkey and fish also contain iron, as do leafy green vegetables (spinach, silverbeet and broccoli), lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, grain and dried fruits.

 

Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron in the body, and so it is recommended that iron rich foods are eaten at the same time as foods rich in vitamin C (some include: oranges, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, capsicum).

It should also be noted that tea, coffee and wine can reduce the body’s absorption of iron. So too can foods high in calcium like milk, cheese and tinned salmon.

Mediteranian diet & the brain

Mediterranean Diet associated with lower rate of cognitive decline

By admin | September 22, 2018

After years of controversy surrounding the detrimental risks associated with a diet full in fat, there is now a growing consensus that fat is actually our friend rather than foe. Past warnings to keep away from fat, have in fact been severely misguided and as research continues to grow, our understanding of the benefits continue…

Gut brain connection

Improving your gut health

By admin | September 22, 2018

Improving your gut health is vital for optimal cognitive function. How can this be done? In this article, how to ensure your microbiome consists of good bacteria – or more importantly has a diversity of bacteria, prebiotics and probiotics and how to incorporate them into your diet. The trillions of microbes that are found in…

Gut and our mood

How our gut is related to the way we feel

By admin | September 22, 2018

Our body contains more than 10 000 different species of bacteria that live in our gut, but what does this mean and why is this so important? Ok, so let’s start but defining what the microbiome actually is – your gut is inhabited by an array of microorganisms or bacteria that basically create a mini-ecosystem…

fish oil and cognition

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their benefit for development

By admin | September 22, 2018

Fatty acids play a variety of roles to assist our body. They are used as a source of energy and help store energy. They promote the body’s absorption and transportation of vitamins. Without them, our brain and its nerves would not be able to function properly. You can think of communication in the brain as…

Magnesium ADHD

The Importance of Magnesium

By admin | September 7, 2018

Micronutrients for brain performance: Magnesium If you’re one to invest time in sport, going for a hike, fitness activities and classes, chances are along the way someone has recommended you take some magnesium to deal with a cramp, get a better night’s sleep or to assist in the recovery process. While magnesium can support these…

Maximise brain potential

5 things to eat to boost brain power

By admin | September 6, 2018

5 things to eat to boost brain power (1) Blueberries Who would have thought that blueberries could provide so many great health benefits! High in antioxidants, blueberries are extremely good at defending our brains from deterioration and stress. There is also increasing evidence that they may influence the delay in loss of short term memory,…