Just like all the other parts of our body, the organ at the top needs the right food and the right nutrients. What does food do for our brain, and what nutrients does it need throughout your lifetime?
Even before birth, babies benefit from their mother’s healthy diet. As well as the recommended folic acid pregnancy supplements, pregnancy is a time for all that vitamin-filled veg, good protein and plenty of dairy for calcium.
Small babies may only ‘eat’ milk, but nature has it all under control. Human breast milk contains omega-3 fatty acids for brain development, as well as many other important ingredients. Nursing mothers need to continue that good diet to pass on the nutrients. Formula for babies has all the right nutrients added, but mum should still eat properly – stamina and health is essential with a young baby in the house!
Once children start to have a say about their food, it can be a challenge to get them to eat the right brain-boosting nutrients. They need all those good greens, plus more fat than adults, complex carbs and plenty of vitamins.
Studies have shown that omega-3 (with other nutrients) also seems to help children with learning and remembering. So it is worth making the effort to include it in children’s diets, with regular portions of oily fish.
Omega-3 is not just for kids, though. It helps your adult brain to function, too.
Keep your brain sharp with regular doses of oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. Nuts and seeds also contain the good stuff.
Busy lives can interfere with meals. In adulthood it is easy to keep ‘running on empty’, but your brain will react to that low fuel with sluggish thought and bad temper. So be nice to those around you and keep yourself fed!
It may sound obvious, but your brain needs energy to function properly. Without a decent supply of energy you will be unable to focus or concentrate.
Wholegrains will release glucose slowly to your brain via your blood, so breakfasting on wholegrain toast or cereal will keep your concentration levels up until lunch.
B vitamins have been shown to reduce cognitive decline, so it’s worth developing a liking for marmite as you age!
Vitamin E has also been shown to help keep your memory sharp. Find it in nuts, eggs, asparagus and seeds.
There are some theories on the right diet for a longer life. Why not give it a try?
It’s all straightforward advice – use your brain to choose the food to help your brain!
A lot of leafy greens, I mean!
The Horizon programme the other night showed how the mother's diet affects the foetus at just 8 weeks old. if the mother ate lots of leafy then certain healthy genes were turned on which would affect the baby's health for the rest of its life. Really interesting, and just a reminder how powerful food is.
The right food makes all the difference. Especially interested in the food for thought element of this article - can't hurt to keep the brain in shape as well as the body!
I am a grumpy bear mid-morning unless I get my muesli or porridge for breakfast - wholegrains work for me and keep me out of the biscuit tin!
I find that eating grains will make my brain feel foggy and I can't think so well. SO I am following a mostly paleo diet which, so far, keeps me feeling fresh and mentally perky.
Smoked mackerel is a great one to get kids into fish. So tasty, easy to use and great for your brain. Guess what we're having for tea tonight!