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Boost your brain!

This week, I gave talk on Looking after your brain with nutrition and lifestyle at Camden Carer’s Service, which is the wonderful facility in Camden at which I volunteer once a week.

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body, and without our brain, the body would not function. Every action, thought, feeling and response emanates from our brain; in fact, the human brain has the capacity to store more information than all the libraries in the world put together!

1 in 4 of us will experience some type of mental or neurological condition at some point in our lives, and mental health disorders are among the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide, so supporting the health of our brains is increasingly important.

Nutrition and lifestyle can play a fundamental role in symptoms related to poor mental and cognitive health.

Here are my top 5 tips for supporting the health of your brain:

  1. Reduce your sugar intake – a diet high in refined sugars and carbs has been shown to be associated with conditions such as dementia. Go for complex carbohydrates instead, like whole grains and root vegetables instead.

  2. Increase your vegetable intake – vegetables contain antioxidants, which help mop up free radicals in the body, preventing them from causing inflammation in the body. Aim for lots of different coloured veg. Every time you go shopping, try a new veg. Dark green leafy veg are particularly associated with helping to slow down the onset of cognitive decline[1].

  3. Eat protein – the units of protein (amino acids) are used to make neurotransmitters, which affect mood. Aim for a wide variety of protein from foods like poultry, meat, eggs, fish, lentils, beans, dairy and soya.

  4. Eat foods containing silicon. Aluminium toxicity is associated with many conditions of the brain. The mineral, silicon, binds to aluminium and may help reduce its action in the brain. Foods containing silicon, include oats, bananas, green beans and whole grains.

  5. Exercise the brain – doing different sorts of mental activities can help to slow down the onset of cognitive decline. Activities such as reading, puzzles, hobbies, board games and watching television, all help to make new neuronal connections.

[1] Morris MC,et al. (2018). Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology. 2018 Jan 16;90(3):e214-e222. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815. Epub 2017 Dec 20.

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