Often, brain health becomes a concern after someone is having difficulties with learning or paying attention; has experienced a concussion or a stroke; or is starting to forget more frequently.
This is also one of the many cases where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Never Too Early
From the time of conception onwards, it is critically important to support healthy brain development, growth, repair, and overall function by ensuring optimal nutrition. In pregnancy and infancy, nutrients that have the greatest impact on brain development include protein, fats (including omega-3’s- DHA and EPA), iron, zinc, iodine, folate, and vitamin B12.
With breastfeeding mothers, it is also important to consider the potential of post-natal nutrient depletion. This can occur when a mother’s body uses her own nutrient stores to support her infant’s growth, and so it’s crucial to ensure that the mother has access to a diverse array of whole, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods and is supplementing when needed.
When looking at the brain of newborns, note that infants use 60 percent of their total calorie consumption because of their rate of development—which emphasizes the point made in our subheading: it’s never too early to nurture and protect brain health.
Healthy Brain Habits for Toddlers and Beyond
Ensuring that children consume a diverse array of whole colorful foods can become more difficult with age as they often become more selective about their taste preferences (some might call this picky!).
In addition to providing nourishing foods, an enriching environment is important for toddler brain development. One of my favorite ways to combine these two things is to allow children to “play” with their food as you creatively use color, texture, taste, and smell to utilize all their senses.
Solid Starts serves as an excellent resource about how and when to introduce whole foods like vegetables to babies and toddlers. It also offers great ideas for plant forward snacks and meals. By focusing on nourishment, whole foods, and diversity from the beginning, children can receive the nourishment they need to support learning, attention, and mood.
Optimal Brain Function in Adulthood
What we eat can support healthy brain function, reduce brain fog, and shore up mood while nourishing our bodies and tasting great. Plus consider the role of food as medicine.
Top Five Recommendations for Supporting Brain Health
There are many reasons to love leafy greens, especially in the spring. Leafy greens are a good source of chlorophyll, which is a phytonutrient that helps to protect cells from damage and supports healthy detoxification. Leafy greens also contain folate and iron, which help to support healthy brain development and function.
High Fiber Vegetables
Alzheimers is referred to by some as type 3 diabetes, which indicates how essential blood sugar balance is for brain health. High fiber (low carbohydrate) vegetables provide support in this balancing function, which includes kohlrabi, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, spinach, peas, and more.
One of my favorite pieces of nutritional advice is to eat the rainbow! Phytonutrients are essential for reducing inflammation and supporting brain health and, when you include the color purple (anthocyanins), this can provide neuroprotective benefits. Consider purple vegetables such as purple cabbage, purple asparagus, purple carrots, and eggplant along with lower-sugar fruits like wild blueberries and blackberries. In addition, eating the rainbow supports brain health by encouraging creativity and allowing you to learn something new (new tastes, new recipes, and new techniques) like these Rainbow Root Beer Leaf Wraps.
Fresh Herbal Teas
Reduce stress and support sleep with herbal teas like our fresh herbal tea sampler. Sleep allows your body and brain to have time to clean out and repair. Plus, herbs such as mint can help with concentration and focus, lemon balm helps promote a feeling of relaxation and may improve sleep, and lemon verbena may help to reduce inflammation and promote restful sleep.
Healthy detox from the constant environmental exposures we encounter on a daily basis is essential to supporting brain health. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, and so forth all help to support health detoxification and hormone balance. One of my favorites is our Sulforaphane Antioxidant Blend.
The Farmer as Part of the Health and Wellness Team
Here at The Chef’s Garden, we hope that we can help support you on your health and wellness journey! If you are looking for additional vegetable options to support brain health, please visit our Farmacy Build Your Box collections. We would love to see how you are supporting your brain health! Join us in the Farmacy at the Chef’s Garden Facebook group or tag us on Instagram @farmerjonesfarm.