How a Healthy Diet Can Improve Brain Health
In order to perform optimally, the brain requires an abundance of energy which it receives through essential nutrients. In fact, the brain uses 20% of the energy used by the entire human body. This means that not only does your brain require a lot of energy to function, but it also needs to receive the right kind of energy. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which we prefer quick and convenient food sources. However, these “fast foods” are not the best kinds of foods for your brain, and can actually have some negative consequences on brain health.
Although there have been some efforts to improve the health quality of fast food, there are still health risks involved when choosing these types of foods. Fast food is highly processed and lacks key nutrients, which means it is essentially empty calories. These empty calories don’t do much in terms of providing nutrients to the body and brain. In addition, fast foods high in sugar can lead to serious health complications, particularly diabetes, and more recently there have been implications that high sugar diets can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease.
If you want to keep your brain healthy, then make sure you include these nutrients in your diet (courtesy of Developing Human Brain):
- Magnesium: Magnesium is necessary for several chemical reactions in the body. Some examples of foods rich in magnesium are: nuts, pumpkin seeds, black beans, leafy greens, avocado, brown rice, and spinach.
- Vitamin B12: This vitamin is necessary for the construction of the myelin sheath on nerve cells. A deficiency in this vitamin could result in neuropathy and pain.
- Thiamine: Thiamine is important for its mood regulating functions. In addition, this vitamin helps to regulate the production of ATP so your body receives the energy it needs to perform necessary cellular functions. A headache may be a sign of a deficiency in thiamine.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: omega 3 fatty acids are very important for brain health. They are important for memory, behavioral functioning, and may help reduce inflammation. Today, our diets are higher in omega 6 fatty acids, which do not have the brain health benefits provided by omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore, it is especially important that you make an effort to include omega 3 foods in your diet. Some examples of foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids are: olive oil, salmon, walnuts, flax seed, and eggs.
By providing your brain with the proper nutrients, not only do you improve the health of your brain but also the health of your entire body.