One thing to remember when it comes to our diets is that what we eat not only impacts our physical health, but our mental health as well. Just as our hearts, lungs and muscles need key nutrients to stay healthy and strong, our brains do too. It’s important for both children and adults to learn how to maintain and enhance brain function. One way is through the consumption of a healthy diet.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the foundation to any nutritious and balanced diet consists of:
1. Filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables
2. Choosing low-fat dairy products and lean meats
3. Making half your grains whole grains
4. Cutting out added sugar
These simple recommendations serve as the base for a brain-healthy diet. Eating a brain-healthy diet can be fun and tasty when you learn which foods to start with such as avocados, almonds, oatmeal, blueberries, flax seeds, turkey and most fruits and vegetables. In addition to the guidelines above, here are some additional brain health tips to keep in mind as you plan and prepare meals for your families:
Instead of salt, use fresh herbs and spices for a more diverse flavor. Many packaged, frozen and snack foods contain hidden sodium so be sure to check the nutrition facts label.
2.Choose Whole Grains
Switch white breads, pastas and rice for 100% whole grain products. They have more vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined products.
3.Focus on Fruits and Veggies
Always keep fresh/frozen fruits and veggies handy. Dip veggies in hummus or blend a fruit smoothie for an afternoon snack. Add kale or spinach to a smoothie for added nutrition.
Choose lean meats like fish, chicken, turkey or lean beef. Avoid deli meats or choose low sodium versions and limit red meats to once per week. Red meats and fatty cuts of meat contain higher amounts of saturated fat which can increase cholesterol.
Replace sodas, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened teas. Infuse water with berries or soak cucumber slices in water for a more natural flavoring.
In certain cases, supplementation may be beneficial to boost brain functions. Some dietary supplements can interfere with medications and can be harmful to your health. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new diet or dietary and herbal supplements.
At Hillcrest, we offer Neuroscience Brain Health diet options to our patients. We have menu "add-ons" for neuroscience patients, which allows them to order unique brain health items on their food trays. For more information on how you can practice brain health nutrition at home, visit eatright.org.