- Dr. Kaitlyn Zorn ND
My Top 5 Brain Foods
There are many different foods that have been shown to promote cognition, memory, mood and help heal and prevent neurological disorders such as brain injuries/concussions, strokes, Alzheimers/dementia and Parkinsons.
One of my practice focuses is in brain health, and helping to support those with a TBI or concussion recover and prevent further issues.
Whether you are recovering from a brain injury, or would just like to boost your cognition and prevent brain disorders - this article is for you!
My full list of brain foods would be rather extensive, but for time's sake - I've narrowed it down to my top 5.
Of course, if you'd like to learn more about how to use brain foods for healing (brain injuries/concussions) or for specific symptoms (cognition, memory, mood) you can book a consult here.
1. Fish Products
A study of trauma patients underwent supplementation with both EPA and DHA. DHA blood levels did not affect quality of life (QOL) in those individuals, however higher EPA levels were correlated with better QOL and also improved mental health.
Fish products contain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, and are incorporated into our bodies cells, leading to an anti-inflammatory effect. The omega-3 fatty acids allow better neurotransmitter signaling in the brain, and reduce inflammation that impairs signaling and damages nerve cells. This translates to better cognition, memory, mood and aids in brain injury healing.
Dietary supplementation with fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and increase neuronal communication in cell studies. A human study found that drinking concord grape juice increased verbal memory performance in adults with mild cognitive impairment.
3. Coconut oil
Mouse studies showed that virgin coconut oil restored oxidative stress in mice, due to its anti-oxidant properties, much like many of these brain foods. Ketogenic diets, including foods that contain healthy fats, such as coconut oil, have been shown to promote ketosis in the body and brain. This state has been shown to up-regulate neuronal macro-autophagy which may prevent neurodegenerative disorders. Coconut oil has medium chain triglycerides, making it a good source of ketones.
4. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate and coffee contain compounds known as methylxanthines, which have been shown to improve cognitive performance, and protect neurons against dysfunction and death in animal models of stroke, Alzheimers and Parkinsons. Theobromine in cocoa and cacao products also promotes concentration and promotes a positive mood. Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, which acts as a nervous system relaxant and aids in proper nerve function.
5. Dark leafy greens
A prospective study of older adults consuming dark leafy vegetables showed slower cognitive decline (ex. dementia). Dark leafy greens are loaded with minerals and vitamins that our brains require for proper function such as folate, iron and magnesium.
So in short: yes have your daily dark chocolate and a cup of joe!
If you want a good brain-boosting elixir - try a berry smoothie including coconut oil and kale. Add in almond milk, a banana to thicken and some hemp seeds or nut butter/protein powder.
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Also, I'd love to chat more with you if you have any questions, especially if you are recovering from a TBI, other neurological disorder or suffer from plain old "brain fog". Book a Complementary 15 minute phone call here.