Foods That Are Good For Your Brain

There’s Good News This Week!

You know how I love research projects.  Especially when they tip the scale in the direction to further prove that the stuff I think works really does.  Here’s some good news that I think will help us stay focused on what we can do to be healthier instead of always talking about all the things we shouldn’t do.

Vitamin D May Help Reduce Body Fat 

The British Journal of Medicine is now reporting that research indicates that Vitamin D has a positive impact on HDL cholesterol and the reduction of body fat mass.

The research study was based on a sample of 77 overweight or obese women with an average age of 38.  The women received either a daily supplement of vitamin D3 or a placebo for 12 weeks.  At the end of the 12 weeks, HDL cholesterol had increased in the women receiving the Vitamin D and decreased in the placebo group. (Remember, HDL is the good cholesterol and ideally it should be at least 60 mg or above.)

The study also showed that “body fat mass was significantly decreased in the Vitamin D group. The women were given 25 micrograms if Vitamin D3 supplement daily.

We already know that Vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to depression, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, and fractures.  Some studies suggest that Vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of some cancers and diabetes.  This research is some of the first to be done on the effects of Vitamin D3 on blood lipids, and lipoproteins in healthy overweight and obese women.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you can benefit from Vitamin D supplements, be sure and check with your doctor.  A simple blood draw can help determine if your levels are sufficient.

For information about the link between low Vitamin D levels and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), click here.

We Talk About Heart Health A Lot.  What About Our Brain?

We may be able to escape mental and neurological illness with diet.  Medscape Today reports that unhealthy diets may increase the risk for psychiatric and neurologic conditions including depression and dementia.  The good news is there are foods that can help maintain brain health and prevent cognitive decline. Here’s a a summary of the research that concludes which foods have been proven to be beneficial.

  1.  Mediterranean Cuisine – A 2009 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry shows that people that follow a Mediterranean-style diet are 30% less likely to develop depression.  A Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil.
  2. Polyunsaturated Fats – A study based in Spain reports that a diet that includes polyunsaturated fatty acids decreases the risk for depression.  Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in nuts, seeds, fish, leafy green vegetables, olive oil and avocados.
  3. Omega-3s – The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can help deter brain diseases and lower the risk for psychotic symptoms.  Salmon, herring and mackerel have the highest levels of omega-3s.
  4. Berries – Berries may slow cognitive decline and reverse age-related deficits in learning and memory.   Strawberries, blueberries, black berries and acai berries all contain anthocyanins that have anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. Alcohol – A study of German primary care patients in 2011 found that moderate alcohol use is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer dementia.  Too much alcohol can undo any benefits to the brain that a glass of wine might have.
  6. Coffee – We know that coffee helps us with our workouts, but it may also stave off depression and strokes.  One study shows that one to six cups a day may cut stroke risk by 17%.  Women that drink between 2-3 cups daily reduce their risk of depression by about 15%.
  7. Chocolate – The flavanols in chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.  The positive impact that chocolate has on mood may be from the pleasure we derive from eating it.  There are no studies to prove that it has an effect on dopamine and opioid responses.

Try adding these foods to your diet on a regular basis and see if your mental outlook is brighter and clearer.

 

Comments

  1. There are so many food options to give you a pretty dang amount of Vitamin D throughout the day. I’m a fan of Salmon, which is loaded with D. But there are plenty of other foods out there to add into a meal plan that will help give you a healthy balance of “necessary” nutrition.

    While some people might choose to add in a pill to up their intake, I find if you’re concentrating on eating the right kinds of foods then it should be pretty easy to get the right dosages to help you keep that brain strong.

    -Mitchell
    Mitchell – Home Fitness Manual recently posted..How to Get Sexy and Strong with the Right Shoulder RoutineMy Profile

    • admin says:

      Hi Mitchell – You raise a very valid point and I would agree in the case of most supplements. However, studies show that it’s nearly impossible to get enough Vitamin D from foods alone (if you live as far north of the equator and don’t get much sunlight from Sept – May like I do) so supplements may help. Thanks for your comment. I too love salmon!!