The average adult eats around three to five pounds of food every day. It is necessary to provide our body with the critical nutrients it needs to survive. Certain foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folates, lutein, and beta carotene which are essential for brain health. Having these nutrients in our regular diet can help improve brain functioning and prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 is a structural part of cell membranes and is vital to neural plasticity (the ability for the brain to take in new information and adapt throughout an individual’s lifetime). Studies have showcased that the ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids is correlated with a decreased risk of neurodegenerative disorders, and impaired memory.
Three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Studies by the National Institutes of Health have concluded that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of DHA compared to healthy elderly adults. Below is a list of omega-3 rich foods to include in your diet to protect your brain health:
Walnuts: High in ALA
Edamame: High in ALA
Kidney Beans: High in ALA
Soy Beans: High in ALA
Flax Seeds: High in ALA
Chia Seeds: High in ALA
Salmon: High in DHA and EPA
Seabass: High in DHA and EPA
Sardines: High in DHA and EPA
Shrimp: High in DHA and EPA
Oysters: High in DHA, EPA, and ALA
Folates are a form of vitamin-B that is essential in the production of DNA and allows for cell division to occur (formation of new brain cells). Folates need to be present in your body in adequate levels in order for the brain to function properly. Studies by the U.S. The National Library of Medicine reveals that folate deficiency can lead to depression, Alzheimer’s, and overall cognitive decline. Below is a list of food rich in folates that you should consider adding to your diet to maintain adequate brain health.
Lutein is a carotenoid (plant or algae produced pigment) that is found in high concentrations in the macular region of the retina that is responsible for protecting the eye from blue light. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to blindness in the elderly and is caused by a lack of lutein present in the retina and throughout the brain. Here is a list of lutein-rich food to help maintain your vision:
Beta carotene is a form of vitamin-A that is responsible for the orangish pigmentation found in plants. It is an antioxidant that is responsible for eliminating free radicals that are present in the brain. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are formed as a by-product of a cell’s metabolic process to produce energy. These free radicals are highly reactive to oxygen and prevent them from being used by neurons. A deficiency in antioxidants, specifically beta carotene, leads to cell damage due to oxidative stress (leading to apoptosis due to a lack of oxygen to perform cellular functions). Oxidative stress also alters amyloid-beta peptides which contribute to the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain (a sign of Alzheimer’s). Below is a list of beta carotene-rich foods to help keep the proper balance of antioxidants to free radicals in the brain.
Red or yellow peppers
No matter what age we are, it is vital to keep a balanced and nutritious diet. It will positively impact the brain, body, and emotional health. Please check with your medical professional before taking nutrient supplements for the aforementioned items.