10 Natural Ways to Boost Brain Function
With everyone heading back to school and work after a leisurely summer vacation, I've decided to focus on brain health on the blog.
Brain health isn't something you hear about every day, but it's vitally important - the brain plays a role in everything we do.
Given the amount of stress we're under as a society, and how taxed our grey matter can become, including brain health in your daily regimen is doubly important.
Here are the 10 ten ways I recommend to my patients to boost brain function and combat things like inflammation and stress-related conditions.
1. Lower Inflammation
Watch the overconsumption of inflammatory foods such as:
- refined sugars
- red meat
Instead, try a diet rich in the following, to keep inflammation down and thus support a healthy brain:
- fruits and vegetables
- free-range chicken/turkey
- good fats (fish, flax, hemp, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil and nuts and seeds)
Also be aware of your environment – environmental toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, plastics and other compounds can have a profound affect on the body’s nervous system and brain.
2. Optimize Gut Flora
We have discussed the connection between “leaky gut” and “leaky brain” and therefore keeping the digestive system supported with adequate good bacteria is important for brain function. Head to your local health food store an purchase a high-quality probiotic, and be sure to include healthy fermented foods in your diet, like tempeh, apple cider vinegar, and even kombucha.
New studies are providing even more evidence that regular exercise not only prevents problems with memory that come with aging, but can actually help turn back the clock on brain aging.
4. Stress Management
Supporting the adrenal glands – your “stress glands” - is essential for keeping systemic and brain inflammation down, as well as preventing other chronic diseases. Try adaptogenic herbs, mindfulness and meditation, and a weekly time to unplug from devices to lower stress and support your grey matter.
Bacopa Monnieri is an herb that has been used historically to strengthen the immune response and increase the body’s ability to cope with physical and mental stress. It provides antioxidant protection for memory centres and reduces effects of stress on the brain.
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and can prevent and help to treat the inflammatory cause of cognitive decline. It also has antioxidant properties and has the ability to enter the brain, bind and destroy any potential toxins.
Pyrroloquinoline quinone is a vitamin-like compound found in plant foods that is showing a wide range of benefits. PQQ is an extremely powerful antioxidant that provides defence against mitochondrial decay as well as growth of new mitochondria.
Mitochondria are our body’s little energy cells, and dysfunction within the mitochondria is a key biomarker of aging, linked especially to memory and brain health.
8. Vitamin D
Lower levels of Vitamin D is associated with an increase in dementia and cognitive dysfunction. Get out in the sun! Or take a high-quality supplement if you live in a place with a grey winter.
9. Phosphatidylserine (PS)
PS is necessary for effective neurotransmission. It is helpful in treatment of stress and cognitive and mental impairments such as dementia and depression. You can find it in supplement form at most health food stores.
10. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 promotes normal memory, concentration, and verbal function. As we age, it is more difficult to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet. B12 and folic acid help to maintain normal homocysteine levels for healthy cognitive function.
This may seem like a lot to take on, but any one or two of these suggestions will boost your brain power and promote overall health in the body!