You’ve probably heard the phrase “brain food.” While a good book or a documentary might be able to feed your creativity or teach you something new, those things can’t provide your mind with the actual nutrition it needs to function properly.
“Our brain is what creates our reality,” Dr. Kelsey Brenner, functional neurologist for South Florida Integrative Health told The Daily Meal. “It takes in information from our environment, about other people, and what we say to ourselves. It is constantly absorbing things. And it’s taking things in from our food, too.”
We often think of our environment as a main determinant of our reality; but the physical health of your brain can make a big impact, as well.
“We want to make sure we’re getting the right nutrients and surrounding ourselves with good people and learning things that will help our brains grow as we age,” Brenner explained over the phone. “Our brains need holistic support — from our environment and our food.”
But what foods truly nourish your brain? We asked three neurologists to explain the foods that they eat and the foods that they recommend for maintaining optimal brain health. These foods work to preserve the brain as it gets older, help you focus in the present, and may even repair past damage or eliminate toxins. All of these effects combined can help to stave off dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of cognitive decline.
That being said, there’s a lot more than food to consider when you’re thinking about brain health.
“The fact is, food and brain health is a widely discussed topic with a lot of different schools of thought,” said Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, director of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook, to The Daily Meal. “Despite that, the National Academy of Sciences came out with consensus recommendations on how to promote brain health — and diet did not make the cut.”
Other factors, such as physical exercise, cognitive stimulation, and blood pressure management are recommended, Dr. Sabbagh explained. But with food, he says, “the literature is all over the map and there is not sufficient consistency to recommend it.”
Despite the conflicting opinions, the doctors shared their insights as to what foods could play a role in maintaining your mind — it couldn’t hurt to put these brain-boosting foods on your table.