We’ve called upon one of our nutritionist friends Phoebe Smith from Upbeat Nutrition to tell us a little more about brain boosting foods, and how we can eat to support our mental wellbeing.
Phoebe’s favourite brain boosting foods
The brain allows our lungs to breathe, our heart to beat, our body to move and our mind to think therefore we should really be giving it all the love we can with its favourite foods and nutrients.
Here are some particularly good foods and nutrients that work to boost the brain’s power.
Omega-3 fatty acids
About 60% of our brain is made of fat, and half of that is made up of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are the building blocks of the brain’s cells ensuring smooth communication can take place. Omega-3’s play a vital role in fighting against inflammatory diseases like neurodegenerative diseases, and are beneficial against learning impairments, depression and other mental disorders. Foods high in Omega-3 include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines and nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts.
The B-vitamins work together as a brain boosting team. They are used to drive thousands of biochemical reactions in the body including energy production (converting food into fuel), the synthesis and repair of DNA & RNA (that is our genetic information), and the production of neurotransmitters (these are chemical messengers in the brain). The best sources of B-vitamins come from animal products like beef, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, as well as plant products like beans, legumes, whole grains, and dark leafy greens.
Probiotic rich foods
There is a bidirectional communication system that goes on between the gut and brain. This is known as the gut brain axis. Inside the gut there is a wealth of neurotransmitters that are produced that have well-known roles in mental health. Such as 90% of serotonin synthesis, which is involved in our mood and social behavior.
This slightly begins to highlight the importance of looking after our gut health in order to look after our brain health. A great way to keep the brain and gut microbiota happy and flourishing is to increase our intake of probiotic rich foods. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods and supplements and have been proven to improve mood and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Probiotic rich foods include yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
You can begin to boost your mood, concentration, memory and overall cognitive function by including more of these nutrient dense foods into your diet.
1. Flowers SA, Ellingrod VL. The Microbiome in Mental Health: Potential Contribution of Gut Microbiota in Disease and Pharmacotherapy Management. Pharmacotherapy. 2015 Oct;35(10):910–6.
2. Jenkins TA, Nguyen JCD, Polglaze KE, Bertrand PP. Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Nutrients. 2016 Jan;8(1):1–15.