The 10 Best Foods & Supplements
for Optimal Brain Health
by David Bunnell
Media Chief, Unfrazzle
If you are caring for or know someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia then you realize how frightening and debilitating this disease can be. If you are like me, you want to do everything you can to prevent or at least delay the onset of cognitive decline in yourself.
We know from many studies that people who regularly exercise (especially aerobic exercise) are less likely to develop dementia. Also, diet appear to be a factor.
Based on my own research and upon conversations I’ve had with doctors and nutritionists I’ve come up with a list of the best the 10 best foods and supplement for optimal brain health.
You’ll notice that dark chocolate is not on my list. This is because the recent study published in the journal Hypertension and heavily publicized by the Daily News and others was a very limited study with few participants over a short period of time. It was really designed to measure blood flow and was sponsored by guess who, the Mar’s candy corporation.
There are many benefits of eating dark chocolate and I recommend it, but not particularly for brain health.
Here’s my list:
Dehydration raises stress hormone levels, causing serious brain damage. The rule of thumb is you should drink at least 8, 8-ounce glasses a day. I think 10 is better.
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, is the main component of brain synapses.
A lack of omega-3 has been shown to diminish intellectual performance and is linked with dementia. If you don’t eat fish, omega-3 is also found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds. In addition, you can take it as a supplement; 2000 mg a day is what I recommend.
For a wonderful, downloadable poster on the best fish you can eat, click here.
3. Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables.
The best of these, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, raspberries, brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries, and kiwis.
Five servings a day of fruits and vegetables is recommended which seems like a ton but isn’t. A serving is only 1/2 cup.
4. Complex Carbohydrates.
For energy, your brain needs fuel, and the best choice is glucose. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits digest slowly, providing a steady supply.
5. Green Tea.
Ingredients in green tea (and to a lesser extent, black tea) slows the build-up of plaque in brains from amyloid deposits. And drinking tea is associated with mental alertness.
Eggs are rich in choline, a fat-like B vitamin, which has been shown to enhance memory and minimize fatigue.
7. Alpha Lipoic acid (aLa).
This powerful supplement is both water and fat soluble, meaning it enters all parts of cells to neutralize free radicals. It is the only antioxidant supplement that can easily get into the brain. There is some evidence it is useful in the prevention of strokes.
This is an essential contributor to the production of the neurotransmitter “acetylcholine,” which is required for mental function. Double-blind clinical trials suggest acteyl-L-carnitine delays the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and enhances the overall performance of people with the disease.
9. Phosphatidyl Serine (PS).
Stimulates cells in your brain to make new dendrites and axons. People who take PS remember more names, faces, phone numbers, and written information.
Derived from fermented soybeans, nattokinase facilitates better blood flow throughout the body.
Note: Beware there are many branded brain health supplement combinations on the market that make all sorts of dubious claims. Many of the ingredients in these supplement have been shown to benefit brain health, but only in much, much larger doses than is found in these pills.
Want to know more about Unfrazzle?
David Bunnell is the Media Chief of Unfrazzle. He is the co-author with Dr. Frederic Vagnini of Count Down Your Age (McGraw-Hill) and the former Editor-in-Chief of ELDR Media.