Foods That Boost Brain Health & Happiness

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Jordan Rowland on Unsplash!


by Connie Hernandez, ND

People everywhere are living longer today. As a result, research into foods and drinks that promote brain health has increased dramatically. 

As luck would have it, many of these same brain-healthy foods can help people of all ages deal with mental and emotional issues that appear to be spiraling out of control around the world:

  • Protection from mental decline
  • Improvement of memory and cognition
  • Protection from degenerative neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s
Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

While the marketplace is currently being flooded with many beneficial natural and synthetic supplements and drugs that promise mental benefits, we can easily incorporate brain-enhancing foods in our daily diet.

Omega 3 fatty acids. Abundant in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, black cod, and halibut; vegetarian sources include algae, hemp seed, flax seed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Fish sources contain the active constituents EPA and DHA, while the body needs to convert the Omega 3 in flax and other seeds needs into the active constituents.

DHA enhances memory and promotes healthy neurologic development in fetal brains. Together, EPA and DHA are anti-inflammatory and help alleviate anxiety and depression.

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects, and for improving mood and memory.

Turmeric promotes BDNF (bone-derived neurotrophic factor), a modulator neurotransmitter that stimulates neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change its structure).

Curcumin, the antioxidant active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to decrease beta amyloid plaques involved in Alzheimer’s. Curcumin also helps preserve neuronal integrity and improves memory in Alzheimer’s patients.

Check YouTube for yummy Golden Milk recipes made with turmeric; and try to include turmeric in your cookery.

Berries of all kinds protect brain cells from free radical damage through their antioxidant activity. Berries also improve communication between brain cells.

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Crystal Jo on Unsplash!

Blueberries have received the best press, for lowering the risk of dementia and age-related memory loss, and for improving concentration and focus.

Although not a berry, pomegranate also deserves a mention, as pomegranate juice has been shown to decrease beta amyloid and to be brain-protective.

Coffee lovers who depend on the morning cuppa Joe to awaken their brains are indeed onto something. The caffeine in coffee blocks a brain substance called adenosine that makes us sleepy.

Beyond enhancing alertness, studies have linked coffee consumption to reduced cognitive decline with age, and with increased capacity for information processing.

While coffee may be overly agitating to some, green tea offers a more calming option with similar brain benefits and enhanced anti-inflammatory activity.

Mushrooms of all kinds have been shown to improve memory and protect the brain from neurodegeneration.

Lion’s Mane mushroom tops the list of brain-cell growth-stimulating shrooms. Powdered Lion’s Mane can be added to foods or tea and coffee.  Check out Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane Mushroom Elixir, or Matcha Latte with Lion’s Mane. You can find other Lion’s Mane products on Fullscript.

Last, but far from least on everyone’s list of favorite brain-enhancers, is chocolate. The cacao flavonoids in chocolate promote the growth of brain neurons and blood vessels. Chocolate also enhances memory and thought processes.

In addition, chocolate contains anandamide, an endocannabinoid popularly called the “bliss molecule” since it promotes happy feelings.

We’re talking dark chocolate. The Lily’s brand offers stevia-sweetened vegan dark chocolate varieties; no need to worry about sugar or dairy.

Other brain-healthy foods include broccoli, leafy greens, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Adding these foods to your daily diet can hugely impact your mental and emotional well-being, protect your brain, and improve your brain’s health.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!