Staying sharp – Brain health and diet by Goodhealth

Staying sharp – Brain health and diet

Tháng Tư 17, 2023

You don’t have to be an expert in the intricate workings of the human brain to understand that it’s an incredible organ. It is the control room for our physical sensations and body movement; our motor skills, judgment, and emotion; our language, memory, thoughts, attention, and perception; our ability to plan and carry out tasks, and our ability to live a purposeful life. Despite its immense importance, most of us don’t look after our brain like we do our other vital organs or muscles. We keep fit for the good of our heart and we eat well for the good of our digestion and body, but our brain is all too often overlooked.

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  1. The Brain & Diet
  2. Nutrients to Support Brain Health
  3. Chocolate – YES CHOCOLATE!
  4. Phosphatidylserine (PS)
  5. Vitamin E
  6. Lutein
  7. Iodine
  8. Vitamin B12
  9. Folate
  10. Animal Fats and Organs
  11. Ginkgo

The Brain & Diet

Like other muscles and organs, our brains don’t work as well as we age. We become more absent minded and generally don’t feel as sharp as we use to. At the extreme end of the scale are conditions that significantly alter the way we operate on a daily basis. While these things can rear up later in life, they are not entirely attributed to age and can be caused by several outside factors such as poor diet and lifestyle, and heredity factors. It’s quite alarming to know how much brain conditions are increasing in the West.

The message, the experts say, is “change your unhealthy lifestyle habits now or face a much greater risk of developing brain problems in the future”. But here’s the good news…

There are various ways to support your brain health. Much like having protein after a workout to help your muscles stay in good shape, your brain needs the right nourishment if it’s going to last you the next few decades.

Nutrients to Support Brain Health


If your metabolism is healthy and you do not have blood sugar imbalances or issues with oxolates, chocolate can be a treat for the brain. Make sure the chocolate is not raw, as the Mayans always “processed” (cooked) their cacao before consuming. 2 squares of dark chocolate are probably enough; in this case less is definitely more!

Omega-3 – particularly Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

DHA is one of the critical nutrients required by the brain and eyes during the early stages of development. Sufficient levels are needed to properly maintain optimum brain health throughout life. In fact, this Omega-3 is the primary building block of the brain. The brain is 50-60% fat, and DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. It supports cellular communication and the action of neurotransmitters. In short, it helps your brains cells talk to each other better. Sources of Omega-3, DHA, include oily fish and seafood, fish oil, Krill oil, and animal fats.

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

PS is naturally found in our brain, but levels decline as we get older, so it needs to be topped up. Vegetarians and people on low-fat diets are generally lower in PS too. PS supports the communication between cells in your brain via the number of membrane receptor sites for receiving messages. It also supports the brain’s supply and output of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter crucial to mental clarity. Ideal for people whose brains feel worn out! PS is naturally found in fatty fish, organ meats, eggs, and some veg, but the really potent stuff comes in supplemental form.

Vitamin E

This common vitamin supports brain health and can be found in whole milk, butter, eggs, animal fats, nuts, soaked/fermented wholegrains, wheat germ, and dark leafy greens like spinach.


Everybody should add lutein to their diet. Lutein is an important natural antioxidant that helps maintain healthy eyes and supports brain health as we age. It can be found in egg yolks, dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collards, and turnip greens), peas, and pumpkin/squash. Lutein is also available in a supplement.


There is a strong correlation between iodine deficiency and lower intelligence and learning disorders. Iodine is naturally found in seaweeds, seafood, raw dairy, liver, and eggs, and it’s one of the easier things to add to your diet.

Vitamin B12

Deficiency is commonly associated with neurological problems. Unfortunately, B12 absorption decreases as we age. A simple blood test will tell you if you are low. Animal foods are the only non-supplemental source of B12.


Folate, or vitamin B9, is needed to manufacture brain neurotransmitters (the brain’s chemical messengers), which are responsible for memory, mental clarity, and alertness. B vitamins are water soluble and lost much more easily from vegetables during cooking, so it is better to get it from animal foods (research shows the folate content remains robust during dry cooking) and fruits (because they can be eaten raw). 50-75g of lightly sauteed chicken livers, 2 soft yolk eggs, plus half an avocado, or 1 orange, will get the average adult over the recommended daily limit (400mcg) for folate. Pregnant women need 600mcg but should get that by following a nutrient-dense diet or by supplementing with 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.

All Essential Brain Nutrients – Organ Meats and Animal Foods and Fats

Animal meats, fat, and organs, especially from ruminant animals, are rich in all the essential nutrients and bioavailable proteins and fats that our brain requires to develop, function, and repair itself. Essential brain nutrients that are plentiful in red/organ meats that are absent from plant foods: B12, creatine, carnitine, carnosine, taurine, retinoic acid (vitamin A), vitamin D3, vitamin K2, heme iron, DHA, EPA, and arachidonic acid. Other brain essentials like iron, magnesium, zinc, and choline, are difficult to get in any meaningful amounts from plant sources. Research has shown that vegetarians experience significantly increased mental illness and earlier cognitive decline than omnivores.

Taurine, in particular has been shown to support brain function, longevity, and recovery from brain injury through its effects on mitochondrial health, DNA protection, and healthy immune responses.  Taurine also plays a critical nutritional role in brain cell growth, differentiation, and development. Other research is finding that eating meat supports healthy mood and many practitioners of psychiatry are turning to, not only nutritional interventions, but actual meat-heavy, ketogenic, or carnivore diets in some of the most severe brain conditions. The ketogenic diet, in particular, as a ton of research in brain health and function.

Herbs Like Ginkgo biloba

This herb has been shown to support blood flow to the brain, and therefore oxygen and glucose utilisation in the brain (glucose is the only fuel the brain uses). It also supports the rate at which information is transmitted from cell to cell within the brain.  It is commonly used to support mental clarity, focus, and alertness, and overall brain health.

Other things you can do to actively look after your brain include:

    • Getting plenty of sleep

    • Getting regular, daily sunlight cues from sunrise to sunset (take a “light break”!)

    • Staying physically active

    • Avoiding smoking

    • Maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism

    • Staying mentally active with learning new skills, crosswords, reading, etc.

    • Staying socially engaged through social activities, clubs, etc.

After all, you only get one brain, so take the initiative to look after it.


What is the connection between brain health and diet?

A healthy diet is based on animal foods because they contain a variety of nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and B vitamins, and even antioxidants, which support brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

Can exercise improve brain function?

Yes, exercise can improve brain function by promoting neuroplasticity, increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, and reducing inflammation and stress.