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  • Wellness

3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Brain Health

Eat your omega-3 fatty acids.

More than two-thirds of your brain is made of fat. 90% of the membranes that make-up neurons (the cells in your brain that transmit signals) are made of an omega-3 fatty acid, called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)[1]. DHA plays a role in regulating inflammation and has been found to support not only fetal brain development, but a decrease in cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease [2].

Nourish Rx: Try eating the following omega-3 rich foods.

  • Wild Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Omega-3 pasture raised eggs

That’s right, chocolate is good for your brain!

In order to get the most bang for your health buck, try sticking with dark chocolate that’s over 70% cacao, doesn’t have too many additives, and is fair trade or organic.

Increase flavonoids,
eat chocolate (you heard me!).

Flavonoids are phytonutrients (chemicals found in plants) that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant superpowers. Particularly in brain health, flavonoids are neuroprotective and support learning, memory and cognitive function [3]. Resveratrol is the flavonoid found in grapes, which gives red wine its reputation for being a “superfood.” Other flavonoids include anthocyanidins, which have antioxidant benefits and also give berries and other fruits their rich blue, red and purple colors[4,5]. And my personal favorite, epicatechin, is the main flavonoid found in cacao [6]. That’s right, chocolate is good for your brain! Side note: Not all chocolate is created equal. In order to get the most bang for your health buck, try sticking with dark chocolate that’s over 70% cacao, doesn’t have too many additives, and is fair trade or organic.

Nourish Rx:

  • Get your daily dose of flavonoids by eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Indulge in a couple pieces of dark chocolate daily. We love Hu and Raaka chocolate brands.
  • Have a glass of red wine with dinner.

Follow “Happy Gut” protocol.

A happy gut = a happy, healthy brain. Research has shown that over 90% of our neurotransmitters are made in our gut [7]. In addition, our microbiome plays a role in regulating inflammation. Certain strains of good bacteria can suppress inflammatory chemicals, helping to decrease the risk for many chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. The microbiome also protects the lining of our intestines. This is important in preventing leaky gut–essentially the spilling of toxins into our bloodstream that can ultimately find their way to our brains [8].  We also now know that our microbiome can be influenced by the foods we eat in as little as 24 hours.

Nourish Rx: In order to keep your microbiome healthy and happy, eat fiber-rich foods, limit processed foods and sugar, and eat your pre- and probiotics.

Sources
  1. Perlmutter D. Grain brain: the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–Your brains silent killers. Place of publication not identified: Little Brown; 2015.
  2. Uauy R, Dangour AD. Nutrition in Brain Development and Aging: Role of Essential Fatty Acids. Nutrition Reviews. 2008;64. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2006.tb00242.x.
  3. Spencer JPE. Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms. Genes & Nutrition. 2009;4(4):243-250. doi:10.1007/s12263-009-0136-3.
  4. Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MMB, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology. 2012;72(1):135-143. doi:10.1002/ana.23594.
  5. Khoo HE, Azlan A, Tang ST, Lim SM. Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & Nutrition Research. 2017;61(1):1361779. doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779.
  6. Nehlig A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2013;75(3):716-727. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x.
  7. MD ES. Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626. Published November 17, 2015. Accessed March 14, 2018.
  8. Mayer E. The mind-Gut connection: how the hidden conversation within our bodies impacts our mood, our choices, and our overall health. HarperWave; 2017.

 

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