Twenty-first century life is hectic. Between negotiating the nine-to-five, getting the kids to school on time and keeping up with the Kardashians, our brain needs a lot of support to keep pace and stay in top condition. At the same time, rates of dementia are rising around the world, with almost 44 million people suffering from the condition, leading to widespread concern about preserving our mental wellbeing.
So how can we boost our brain? Taking care of dietary needs could be part of the answer.
‘Brain training’ is a big trend currently, with mental agility apps and Sudoku proving popular. Yet cognitive nutrition receives comparatively little attention. Just as proper dietary intake is required to support physical training, your mind’s fitness relies on the right balance of nutrients too.
Feeding our brains what they need is often easier said than done however, with a labyrinth of dietary advice out there making it difficult to know what to eat and why.
The Cornelius Health & Nutrition team has taken the headache out of cognitive nutrition by highlighting five of the top ingredients needed to perform at your best, mentally.
Struggling to keep up in meetings or remember if you left the oven on?
As well as benefitting skin, cardiovascular and eye health, studies have shown that Polyphenols, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, are great for helping your mind stay sharp and improving memory. Research has found that older adults who consume more polyphenols demonstrate greater neural responses and crystallised intelligence, maintaining mental youthfulness and protecting information processed throughout life.
You can find polyphenols in eggs, brightly coloured fruits and leafy greens, including kale, spinach, blueberries and lemons.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
Don’t be fooled by the term ‘fatty acids’ – these nutrients are great for somatic and cognitive health. Helping to decelerate the brain’s ageing process and promote mental agility, omega-3 and omega-6 have been found to be hugely advantageous for memory retention and improving concentration and are even thought to be beneficial for depression.
They not only aid the brain in building new cells and cell membranes but also contribute to reducing inflammation.
The human body cannot synthesise its own omega-3 so it is vital that we get enough of it through our diet. Oily fish including salmon, herring, mackerel and trout are fantastic sources of polyunsaturated fats, alongside walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios.
Another effective way to support your intake is through oils such as Olvea’s olive oil and coconut oil, both distributed by Cornelius, as well as peanut oil, flaxseed oil and sesame oil.
Vitamins D and E
Vitamins D and E are essential weapons in the fight against cognitive degeneration and can also help lift moods.
Transformed by the body into a hormone that’s vital for tissues, Vitamin D elevates positive feelings and supports our ability to make memories and learn new things. An anti-inflammatory too, research has demonstrated that it can also defend the mind from decline.
One of the best sources of vitamin D is the sun but in our increasingly indoor lives it’s important to consume this nutrient through cheese, eggs and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which assists the brain in maintaining healthy cells, promoting memory retention, while combating neuronal deterioration.
Foods rich in vitamin E include asparagus, pumpkin, seafood, nuts and oils. Distributed by Cornelius, virgin Argan oil is an outstanding source of vitamin E and is effective whether used as a cooking oil or taken as a supplement.
For the mind and body to function properly, there must be a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause cellular damage (particularly in the brain) and the body requires antioxidants to counteract their effects.
When we have insufficient levels of antioxidants, we experience oxidative stress which has harmful effects and can contribute to a range of degenerative diseases or cognitive health problems.
Luckily, it’s easy to protect brain cells by getting lots of antioxidants through diet, with berries, artichokes and olives providing high levels. Chocolate, wine, tea, coffee and beer are other great sources of antioxidants too.
Supplement examples include AlzChem AG’s Alipure® distributed by Cornelius, a powerful universal antioxidant that is free from organic solvents and helps regenerate tired antioxidants in the body, giving them the boost they need to keep defending cells.
Finally amino acids are needed to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals that communicate the brain and body’s messages. These wonder-nutrients have been found to help lift mood, improve focus and sharpen responses, giving you the jump-start needed to take on the world.
Body tissues absorb most of the amino acids we consume, leaving few for the brain to utilise and contributing to deficiencies. It’s therefore important to supplement amino acid intake by eating lots of protein through lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, quinoa, tofu and soy beans.
Cornelius distributes amino acid supplements including Lonza’s Carnipure®, a high-quality L-carnitine product that helps to boost mental energy levels, heighten concentration and enhance memory.