By: Dr. Keith Darrow, PhD, CCC-A

Have you heard the old adage “you are what you eat”?

This couldn't ring truer, especially when it comes to brain health. The foods we consume play a vital role in supporting cognitive function, memory retention, and overall mental well-being. Incorporating certain foods into your diet can be a proactive way to nourish your brain and support its optimal function.

My published cookbook, Healthy Food Healthy Brain, is your definitive guide to doing more to ensure you stay healthy by eating the right foods and making sure you feed your brain the very best, every day, every meal.

For a complimentary copy of my book, tap this link and get started!  www.brainhealthyrecipes.com.

The Power of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are renowned for their brain-boosting properties. These essential fats are integral for the structure and function of brain cells. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines are exceptional sources of omega-3s. For non-fish eaters, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts offer a plant-based alternative rich in these beneficial fatty acids.

Antioxidant-Rich Berries

Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are packed with antioxidants. These compounds help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, which are associated with brain aging and cognitive decline. Regular consumption of berries has been linked to improved brain function and delayed cognitive deterioration.

Leafy Greens for Cognitive Vitality

Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are brimming with nutrients like folate, vitamin K, and antioxidants. These components have been linked to slower cognitive decline and better memory retention. Including these greens in salads, smoothies, or cooked dishes can significantly contribute to brain health.

Brain-Boosting Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are treasure troves of brain-boosting nutrients. Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect neurons from oxidative stress. They also contain healthy fats and other vital nutrients that support brain health.

Whole Grains for Sustained Energy

Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain bread are rich in fiber, which promotes steady energy levels. They also contain complex carbohydrates that provide a consistent supply of glucose to the brain, aiding in concentration and cognitive function.

Turmerics Cognitive Benefits

Turmeric, a spice often found in curry dishes, contains curcumin, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies suggest that curcumin may contribute to improved memory and overall brain health. 

Below is one of my amazing recipes from my cookbook! Please feel free to let me know if you enjoy it.

Currant and Date Chicken Salad

A world-first scientific breakthrough by Associate Professor Jian Guan of the New Zealand Centre for Brain Research has discovered that New Zealand blackcurrant berries contain high levels of cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP), a neuropeptide, which plays a vital role in normalizing the body’s main growth and brain function.

Currants are high in Vitamin C which supports healthy immune function. They also contain iron which helps prevent anemia, calcium which supports strong and healthy bones and phosphorus which aids in muscle contraction.

Eating dates may help improve brain function. Laboratory studies have found dates to help lower inflammatory markers such as interleukin 6 (IL-6) in the brain. High levels of IL-6 are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Dates are also a good source of Vitamin B6. B6 is one of several B vitamins required for properly producing neurotransmitters - our brain chemicals and messengers. GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, arguably the three most well known neurotransmitters, all require B6 for synthesis.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked chicken breast - cut into chunks
  •  ¼ cup of currants
  • ½ cup of pitted dates
  • A handful of fresh cilantro - roughly chopped
  • Bed of romaine butter lettuce

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil

Directions:

To make the dressing: in a small bowl combine rice wine vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, ground ginger and toasted sesame oil - whisk together well.

For the salad: 

  1. In a bowl, combine chicken, currants, dates, and cilantro.
  2. Toss with dressing and season with fresh ground black pepper.
  3. Serve over a bed of fresh lettuce.

Macronutrients

  • 290 calories
  • 28 grams protein
  • 22 grams carbohydrates
  • 6 grams fat

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

While focusing on these brain-boosting foods, it's equally crucial to maintain a balanced diet. Variety is key, as different foods offer diverse nutrients beneficial for brain health. Avoiding excessive sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats is essential to support optimal cognitive function.

Incorporating these brain-boosting foods into your diet is a proactive step toward maintaining cognitive vitality and supporting overall brain health. Remember, a wholesome and varied diet, coupled with regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and mental stimulation, forms a holistic approach to nurturing a healthy mind.

Always consult with healthcare professionals or a registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you have specific health concerns or conditions.

 By making mindful choices about what we eat, we can fuel our brains and pave the way for long-term cognitive well-being.

As I bring you essential information each month about the connection between eating healthy and long term overall active aging, it is important to keep in mind that the number one way to potentially prevent dementia and cognitive decline is to FIRST TREAT YOUR HEARING LOSS!

Please remember this month and every month to treat your hearing loss and tinnitus and feed your brain for optimal performance.

And, again, don’t forget your complimentary free copy of my book! www.brainhealthyrecipes.com

To learn more about aging gracefully, treating hearing loss, and maintaining a healthy brain, please visit – www.excellenceinaudiology.org.

The World's Award-Winning Hearing & Tinnitus Treatment Specialists
I drive rather far to see them, and it is well worth it. I feel well cared for and valued as a person. Highly, highly recommend.— Nady G.
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