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Brain Health

Learn about what can affect brain health, why it is important and what we can do to protect our brains and the central nervous system using lifestyle and dietary modifications as well as providing an insight into some really useful supplements

What is brain health?

Brain health refers to how the brain functions across cognitive, sensory, social-emotional, behavioural and other domains. Please see our other entries on memory, brain fog, concentration and cognition.

Why is brain health important?

Good brain health can allow a person to realise their full potential at any point in life – and this should be irrespective of the presence or absence of brain-related disorders.

What can affect brain health?

Brain health can be affected by age-related changes in the brain, injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, mood disorders such as depression, substance use disorder or addiction, and diseases such as Alzheimer's disease[i][ii].

Why is nutritional therapy important for brain health?

Ultimately, fuelling your body with the right nutrients will help you feel better, sleep better, and have the energy that you need to manage your mental health and everyday challenges[iii][iv]. In many people with poor mental health, essential vitamin, mineral and omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies are commonly seen, and poor nutrition may lead to many other conditions which can affect the brain[v][vi].

Supplement recommendations for brain health

As is the same with many other systems in the body, supplemental advice regarding the brain and central nervous system may not always be a one-size-fits all. Often, there are many factors such as age, gender and health status which may make one person’s requirements differ from the next person[vii][viii]. For the best nutritional advice tailored to your needs specifically, it is a good idea to attend a nutritional therapy consultation.

That said, there are a lot of well-known nutrients to support various aspects of brain health, so let’s explore our favourites:

Viridian Cognitive Complex: is a great formula containing many brain-boosting components, namely L-Carnitine, L-Theanine and alpha lipoic acid[ix][x].

Viridian Brain support: is a multivitamin with many other added brain loving nutrients and herbal extracts such as Brahmi and includes iodine, iron and zinc which all contribute to normal cognitive function[xi][xii][xiii][xiv]. Try also: Viridian Brahmi.

Pure Encapsulations Cogni Active: is a formula focused around antioxidant benefits for the brain, namely lutein with B-vitamins and zinc and others[xv].

Organic Pharmacy Memory Drops: a formula made with Centella Asiatica, Gingko Biloba, Picricum and Acidum, for helping to produce the effects of enhanced memory function[xvi].

Terranova Ginkgo Leaf 500mg – Organic/ A Vogel Ginkgo Biloba Drops: Numerous scientific studies have highlighted health-promoting properties of ginkgo, it is thought to promote good brain health through maintaining healthy microcirculation, supporting cerebrovascular health, and providing significant antioxidant protection[xvii].

Living Nutrition Organic Fermented Wisdom: 'Wisdom' is a practitioner-formulated, bioactive combination of herbs including holy basil, gotu kola, matcha tea and lion’s mane, to support mental health, balance and wellbeing[xviii][xix].

Viridian Organic Peak Focus: Featuring lemon balm extract to help maintain good cognitive function along with sage extract to help maintain optimal mental well-being, including concentration, attention, and memory[xx][xxi].

Bare Biology Mindful Fish Oil: Omega-3 is important for our brain throughout life, from early cognitive development and learning to memory in older adults. Brain cells with high levels of omega-3 in their membranes are thought to be better at communicating with other cells, an important process for brain function[xxii].

Ancient & Brave Inspired Collagyn for Brain: Formulated with collagen specific amino acids, nutrients and botanical extracts containing flavanols and polyphenols, to help support normal collagen formation, balanced mood and cognitive function[xxiii]. It also serves as a delicious Ayurvedic inspired golden blend of warming spices with gently restorative adaptogenic ashwagandha for stress resilience[xxiv].

Phyto Nectars ‘I am Focused’: is a spiced chocolate nectar to support cognitive function with phytonutrients, mushrooms and added zinc. The powerful ingredients include cordyceps, maitake, ashwagandha, cocoa and ginseng[xxv][xxvi].

Cytoplan CoQ10 Multi: incorporating CoQ10, beta glucan, and great all-round vitamin and mineral levels to support the brain[xxvii].

Dietary suggestions for brain health

Omega-3: Include fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines) or plant-based sources (like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts) in your diet - Omega-3 fatty acids support healthy brain function and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline[xxviii].

Antioxidants: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, particularly those rich in antioxidants. Colourful fruit and veg contains a lot of antioxidant benefits - Berries (such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries), dark leafy greens (like spinach and kale), and colourful vegetables (such as broccoli, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes) are excellent choices[xxix].

Slow-release carbs: Opt for grains like brown rice, quinoa and oats. They provide a steady supply of energy to the brain and contain nutrients like fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Use these to replace ‘white’ carbs, like white pasta, white rice, white bread[xxx][xxxi]. This will benefit the blood sugar levels in your body. You can read more about blood sugar balance here.

Healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats into your diet, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts (like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios). These fats support brain health and help maintain good blood flow[xxxii].

Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Dehydration can affect cognitive function, so it's important to stay hydrated for optimal brain performance[xxxiii].

Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on the brain, so it's best to be mindful to only intake moderate levels[xxxiv].

Lifestyle suggestions for brain health

Be more mindful: Regular meditation or mindfulness practice can help reduce the risk of worsening vascular health caused by anxiety and stress[xxxv].

Sleep tight: Poor sleep is associated with worsening health and vascular risk factors. Quality sleep is essential for brain health and physical health[xxxvi].

Use your brain: Remaining cognitively active through social activities can help slow down memory loss and associated depression with ageing[xxxvii].

Watch your blood pressure: Regularly check your blood pressure and be vigilant for signs of increasing blood pressure, as it is an important risk factor [xxxviii].

Move more and build muscle: Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week to improve physical and brain health. Combine aerobic exercise with strength training at least twice a week to improve heart health and likely enhance brain health[xxxix].

Functional testing options for brain health

Complete Gastrointestinal and Microbiome Test: The gut and the brain are connected through various pathways, including the nervous system, immune system, and hormonal signalling. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in regulating these communication pathways. Imbalances or disruptions in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, may contribute to inflammation, neurotransmitter imbalances, and other factors that can affect brain health. A microbiome test can provide insights into the composition and diversity of your gut microbiome and the health of your gut[xl].

Adrenal Stress Index: The Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) is a test that measures adrenal gland functioning and evaluates the body's response to stress. It assesses cortisol levels at different times of the day, providing insights into stress response patterns. The ASI helps identify adrenal imbalances impacting energy levels, sleep quality, mood, and overall health. Results guide personalised readings for adrenal health and stress management but should be interpreted by a healthcare professional[xli].

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.