9 Nutrition strategies to add to your routine today for boosting brain health

  • 1 Minute Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Did you know that science shows that nutrition may impact your brain health? Eat smart by including these 9 brain-healthy foods in your game plan.

Brain health nutrition

Here's why nutrition for brain health is important

Nutrition's impact on the brain has been studied throughout the life cycle, from pre-pregnancy to the elderly. Common themes are emerging in science to show healthy nutrition may play a critical role in enhancing brain function. Nutrition matters, whether you are a college student trying to ace the next exam, a pregnant woman wanting to grow a smart baby, or a baby boomer attempting to hang on to every last brain cell. Why not consider some brain health nutrition strategies?

9 Brain health nutrition strategies to begin today

1. Increase plant foods in your diet

The brain is a highly active organ that is prone to oxidative stress. Choose a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get the broadest array of antioxidants. Also, whole grains offer more antioxidants than refined types.

2. Go Mediterranean

Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet may protect against memory decline. This style of eating is known for its high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. It also limits red meat, animal fat, and processed foods.

3. Seek out omega-3s

The omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are vital for brain structure and function. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain cell membrane. DHA also helps protect the brain from inflammation. The body does not produce DHA well, so we need food sources. Choose fatty fish, such as ocean salmon and tuna, leafy greens, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seed.

4. Go easy on saturated fat and trans fat

Quite simply, the brain benefits from healthy blood flow. Brain health nutrition gives us one more reason to go lean, low fat, and eat fewer processed foods.

5. Tame the sweet tooth

If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, high blood sugar and high insulin levels can adversely affect brain health. The critical memory region of the brain is especially sensitive to uncontrolled blood sugar.

6. Watch the portions

Aim for feeling comfortable, not stuffed, when eating. Research shows that excess calories can reduce brain function and make brain cells more prone to damage. On the other hand, mild caloric restriction may positively impact brain capacity.

7. Stay hydrated

Our brain requires water to maintain its membranes for normal function. Water also keeps the brain from overheating, which can cause mental decline and possible damage.

8. Include a variety of whole, less processed foods to get plenty of nutrients

Certain nutrients are essential brain protectors, including vitamins A, E, and C; iron; zinc; and folate. These nutrients appear to work as a team for brain health nutrition. A daily multivitamin-mineral supplement can complement brain health.

9. Exercise and sleep

Research suggests that nutrition strategies for brain health work best in concert with other lifestyle factors such as exercise and adequate sleep.

Now you know that science backs not only word games and puzzles for brain health, but healthy foods and lifestyles, too.

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Meal Planning & Diets->Healthy Eating Meal Planning & Diets->Mediterranean Style Other Health Issues->Aging
Sep 9, 2022

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