6 Nutrients That Promote Brain Health (and Their Sources)

Although you might be an excellent multitasker capable of juggling between chores expertly, there are instances when your body will struggle or simply give up altogether. Staying on top of everything (house chores, work, and health) always puts a serious strain on your brain. For many people, just getting enough sleep helps to reboot the system helping them wake up feeling fresh and rejuvenated. While rest may help you relax, your brains cells still need proper nourishment to keep them healthy and functioning correctly. Having healthy nutrient-dense foods is one of the best ways to nourish the brain, which also helps improve your problem-solving, focus, memory, and decision-making skills.

According to Matt Kuchan (A discovery scientist) of the Centre of Nutrition Learning and Memory University of Illinois, proper nutrition has a considerable influence on a person’s memory and learning. Research conducted in the university covering infancy to adulthood showed that diet plays a significant role in creating strong brain connections. This is essential in preserving memories, focus, and our being.

Research also shows that several nutrients and a combination of the same, do help improve a person’s brain capacity. Outlined below are 6 brain-healthy nutrients (and foods) that do help boost brain capacity.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein (a carotenoid) is not only needed for improved heart, skin, and eye health but also packs numerous benefits for the brain. Anyone (young and old) can take advantage of this nutrient to boost their brain capacity.

A study conducted in the University of Illinois (Centre for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory) has shown that seniors who consume foods high in lutein have a higher crystalized intelligence as compared to those that rarely do. Crystallized intelligence can be defined as the ability to retain/use acquired information throughout a person’s life. Additional research also shows that combining lutein with zeaxanthin does help boost the brains memory capacity and processing speed. You, however, do not have/need to wait until your golden age to reap these benefits.

Quercetin

Quercetin is a potent antioxidant commonly found in berries and apples. This compound is believed to be powerful enough to help treat heart disease, circulatory conditions, and lowering blood cholesterol. A preclinical study on the same also shows that quercetin is as helpful in improving cognitive health as well. Researchers believe combining quercetin with other potent nutrients can help delay the impact of cognitive decline as one gets older, hence the idea, ‘an apple a day.’

Natural Vitamin E

Natural vitamin E is a naturally occurring antioxidant in the brain. This compound is generally linked to language development, vision, and memory. Vitamin E is also believed to complement to lutein in keeping brain cells, and DHA protected from harmful chemical compounds (from UV radiation, air pollution, etc.) as well. Consuming foods high in vitamin E plays a huge role in protecting and boosting your brain health.

A recent study on the same also shows that natural vitamin E is more useful and preferred over synthetic Vitamin E. To be safe, only consider foods with natural vitamin E as a key ingredient. Some food manufacturers may label it as d-a-tocopherol or d-alpha tocopherol, says Kuchan.

DHA and Omega 3 Fatty Acids

We all know how important omega 3 fatty acids are. They are commonly referred to as the ‘good’ fats as they play a crucial role in slowing down the ageing process of the brain, as well as preserve cognitive functions. Studies on the effects of omega 3 fatty acids (from Abbott) shows that seniors who consumed foods high in omega fatty acids did better on cognitive flexibility tests, and were able to switch between tasks efficiently as compared to those that didn’t. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Although unknown to many, omega 3 fatty acids do not occur naturally in the human body. It is important to replenish your supply of the same by having a diet rich in these fats. Combining Omega 3 fatty acids with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is known to improve cognitive functions significantly. You, however, need to take high amounts of DHA to reap these benefits.