This post was sponsored by Neuriva, a holistic brain-health regimen to help support brain performance. Thank you to RB for compensating my time, however, all thoughts and opinions presented here are my own.
Our brain better series continues! If you missed our first two posts, backtrack a bit and give your brain a little exercise, starting with How to Support Your Brain.
We all have those days, or even weeks (months?!), where we are operating on total overload. Our brain feels the way our computer operates when it has too many windows open, and it’s not functioning at maximum capacity. This is when we know we should slow down, take a deep breath, and make brain health a priority.
Creating a healthy foundation now by taking time to eat right, exercise, practice gratitude, de-stress, and connect with people and nature makes us more prepared for the times when slowing down isn’t an option. When life gets ultra-demanding and throws you curveballs, having healthy habits in place ensures your body and brain will be operating at a balanced baseline.
Think back to a time when it felt like you had too many “windows” open in your head and it felt like you were going to blow a circuit. What kind of healthy habits could you have had in place to help? Here are a few answers.
Start by showing your brain some love by feeding it right. Did you know your brain uses about 20% of your calorie needs, regardless of how much you are thinking or physically working? (1)
Although any food you eat can provide brain energy, research shows that focusing on a high-quality diet is advantageous to your brain’s processing.
So, while healthy plant-based foods generally provide health benefits, certain foods (some which we’ve noted below) have specifically been studied for brain benefits.
Mushrooms, such as fresh, dried and canned golden, oyster, white button and shiitake mushrooms, may help support cognition. (4)
Start adding mushrooms into your diet now – not only for a possible brain benefit but also for a nutrient boost. If you don’t like mushrooms, they can easily be hidden into ground poultry, bean burgers, tacos, and chili. Plus, mushrooms have high amounts of certain antioxidants that boost health, including a plant compound called ergothioneine. (5,6)
You’ve probably heard that green tea is good for your health. This is due to a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Although green tea has the highest amount of EGCG in comparison to other foods or beverages, there are small amounts in other foods as well, such as blackberries, oats, and carrots. EGCG has potential neuroprotective properties. (7) To boost these protective nutrients:
These biologically active compounds from plants provide functional benefits beyond basic nutrition.
Coffee isn’t just the favorite part of my day, it’s actually a critically important agricultural commodity that has been shown to support cognitive function (and for me – elation). I’m all aboard the, “But first coffee!” bandwagon! (8) Until recently, the bean was the only part of the coffee fruit that was researched for its health benefits. (9) However, did you know that coffee beans come from a fruit and are only one of the important parts of the whole fruit? Both the skin and the rind contain powerful phytonutrients that help support your health, including chlorogenic acid, procyanidins, and flavonols. (10)
Ready to run out and grab a package from the store? Unfortunately, coffee fruit isn’t readily available. However, if you’re interested in the benefits, it can be found in a product we mentioned before called Neuriva. Neuriva contains the botanical extract derived from the skin and the rind of the coffee cherry. This part of the cherry is naturally decaffeinated and has been shown to elevate the body’s levels of Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
Although we can’t easily access coffee cherry to obtain the benefits of elevating BDNF levels, the supplement contains 100 mg of neurofactor extract in one pill, which is equivalent to around 3-4 whole fruit coffee cherries (the size of a few grapes).
Neuriva also contains sharp-PS (phosphatidylserine), which is a component in our brains that aids in processes that are critical for neurons to survive and thrive. Here’s more about sharp-PS:
I asked Nigel Denby, a globally recognized nutrition expert and dietitian in England, about sharp-PS and how to increase food sources as we age.
Nigel: Unfortunately, the best dietary sources of sharp P-S are foods that a lot of people don’t tend to eat. Herring and mackerel are rich in sharp-PS, as are most types of offal (the parts of meat we tend to discard like brains, spinal cord, and kidneys). The meat cuts that more of us eat regularly do contain a little sharp-PS, but the levels are nowhere near as high. If someone wants to increase their intake of sharp-PS, I’d recommend using a supplement like Neuriva where you know how much you are getting. Also, it’s helpful to know sharp-PS comes from soy, not pig’s liver or calf’s spleen.
There are many ways to support your brain, so find a few options you know will work in your typical routine. Set small, achievable goals each day to stay motivated and give your brain the power it needs!
We work with registered dietitians and nutrition scientists to provide nutrition education and healthy eating tips to help create future healthier generations through good nutrition. Melissa's Healthy Living does not provide medical advice, medical nutrition therapy, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.
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