What you eat can have an enormous impact on your child’s brain development and your own memory as you grow older.
Check out our top three tips for brain health:
1. Think Mediterranean
Research published in the medical journal Neurology, in 2013, showed that eating a Mediterranean diet is linked to a reduced incidence of cognitive decline. The study suggests that what you eat not only affects your heart health but also your brain cells. Advice is to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and eat more oily fish. Think roasted salmon, mackerel or trout, with a colourful side of roasted vegetables or salad, served in a whole-wheat pitta pocket. Or whole-wheat pasta with pesto, green beans and salmon.
Supplements of omega 3 fish oils can also be helpful, not only for their well-known anti-inflammatory effects, but also for a good amount of DHA, one of the major omega 3 fatty acids in the brain. DHA is associated with cognitive performance and brain function. Other good sources of omega 3 include linseeds (flaxseeds) and their oil, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
2. Mind your Brain Signals
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers for the brain, controlling how we function, feel and act. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine, in particular, is critical for memory, concentration and learning. Indeed, receptors for this neurotransmitter are dramatically reduced in children with ADHD, therefore reducing its action in the brain.
Choline is a starting block for acetylcholine and is contained in high amounts in egg yolks and is also found in soya and nuts. So these are good foods for boosting memory and brain function, whether its scrambled eggs on toasted rye bread, no sugar added peanut or almond butter, or whole bean soya milk.
3. Not so Sweet
We know that diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, but the story doesn’t end there. A report published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that even for people WITHOUT diabetes, high blood sugar levels were associated with an increased risk for developing dementia. So, consume too much sugar too often and your brain power will suffer.
Switching to wholegrain breads, pasta and rice, as well as cutting out sugary treats, will not only help your health and weight, but also protect brain cells, both for you and your children.