Our brain is the control center for everything our body does. It sends more than 100,000 chemical messages via neurotransmitters every second. That’s trillions of messages sent in a single day.
This communication is part of the brain and body feedback loop used to manage and monitor the chemical, hormonal and organ functions in our body.
When this communication ability is impaired so is our memory and mood.
According to Victoria J. Drake, Ph. D – Research Associate Manager – Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, a healthy brain requires 17 vitamins and minerals.
The vitamins include Thiamin (B1), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), B6, Biotin (B7), Folate (B9), B12, C, D and E.
The minerals include Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc.
However according the USDA, American adults don’t get enough of 7 essential nutrients. Among these are magnesium, vitamins C, D & E, along with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Each one of these missing nutrients is important for healthy brain function and mood regulation.
We aren’t eating enough vegetables, proteins and fats to metabolize the nutrients needed for better mood and improved memory.
With slightly inadequate levels of the most missed nutrients, our body and brain suffers from decreased cognition, problems with concentration, depression, headache, mental fatigue and memory loss.
Severe inadequacies in the 17 nutrients our brain needs, can result in dementia and death.
By adding the following foods to our diet or increasing our intake, we can help avoid even slight deficiencies.
If we want to feel good, we need more folate (B9) and magnesium in our diet. Respectively, this vitamin and mineral are key in the creation and use of the feel good hormones dopamine and serotonin.
Depression has been linked to inadequate amounts of both folate and magnesium in our diet.
While these two nutrients don’t need to be eaten together, it sure makes it easier to get enough of both by eating foods which are high in the vitamin and mineral.
Just add more black-eyed peas, lentils and spinach (raw or cooked) to the menu.
We can protect our brain by adding more Vitamin C, D, E and Omega-3 fatty acids to our diet.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant for the brain, helping to reduce metal ions which pass through the blood-brain barrier. It also helps in the regeneration of vitamin E which has lost it’s antioxidant abilities.
The following foods are high in vitamin C. Yellow and red bell peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, strawberries and oranges.
Make sure to eat more of these daily as vitamin C is water soluble and is not stored in the body.
Deficiency creates oxidative damage to lipids and proteins in the brain. This damage, along with other factors, may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 fatty acids may work together to clear the brain of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
We can get both of these nutrients from foods such as herring, salmon and trout.
The only form of vitamin E actively retained by the body is alpha-tocopherol. This form of vitamin E works as an antioxidant and studies are showing it may help improve cognitive function.
We can make sure we’re getting enough of the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E by eating more
almonds and sunflower oil.
Before making any dietary changes, it’s wise to seek the counsel of a licensed nutritionist or dietitian.
Here’s that list of foods again.
- Black-eyed peas
- Spinach (raw or cooked)
- Yellow/Red bell peppers
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Salmon (Wild Caught)
- Sunflower oil
While whole foods play an important role in maintaining a healthy brain; environment and stress management play a significant role as well.
Minna LaShae is on a journey to heal the body with real foods. She digs through the research, experiments on herself and shares the findings with you at FoodScription.com.