Nutrition for Your Brain

There are many risk factors for dementia and memory loss that we cannot control, including our genes. However, there are some things that we do have power over, including our diets and supplement intakes. There is a wealth of research on foods, herbs, and supplements that are proven to increase brain health.

How Can Foods, Supplements, and Herbs Boost Brain Health?

Numerous minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds have been identified and correlated with a decreased risk of dementia, memory issues, and poor brain health. Ginkgo biloba, for example, is found to improve oxygen flow to the brain, which can help reduce the signs of age-related mental decline. Omega-3 fatty acids are important to brain health throughout our lives, as DHA is essential for infants to ensure proper brain development but also helps preserve brain function later in life.

What Foods Can Improve Your Cognition and Brain Health?

  • Berries, including anthocyanin-rich blueberries, can improve brain function
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  •  Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  •  Beets
  • Leafy greens
  • Fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, sardines
  • Shellfish that are rich in B-12, like oysters, shrimp, mussels, and lobster
  • Olive oil and coconut oil
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts with omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts and Brazilian nuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Saffron
  • Rosemary
  • Sesame seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Sage
  • Ashwagandha
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Green tea
  • Flax Seed

What Foods Can Harm Your Cognition and Brain Health?

Some substances are not great for short-term or long-term brain health, and some can even increase your risk of dementia. Some foods that are bad for brain health include:

  • Sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks
  • Processed carbohydrates including white flour, processed sugars, and other items with a high glycemic index
  • Foods that are rich in trans fats, including fast food, vegetable oils, and shortening
  • Heavily processed foods that have high amounts of salt, fat, and sugar like instant ramen noodles, pre-packaged meals, chips, ice cream, and other sweets
  • Aspartame, which is a very common ingredient in sugar-free products

Should You Get a Brain Scan?

Brain scans can be used to examine your brain beyond what the naked eye can see. The magnetic fields and radio waves used will provide your healthcare team with a detailed look at your brain stem and brain. This can demonstrate if you have vascular dementia, a stroke, or other brain conditions. Additionally, they will be able to notice signs of deterioration and other issues that might need to be examined again in the future. This scan will provide your care team with a baseline look at your current brain health as well, which makes identifying future deterioration easier.

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Submitted to MSRN by Deb Bakalich, MSRN Member: