Did you know your brain consumes more energy than any other organ in the body? Your brain is always on, both when you’re awake and when you’re asleep. What you eat affects how well your brain functions.
At East Side Primary Medical Care on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, our compassionate and dedicated primary care physician, Dr. Daniel Klein, believes balanced nutrition is one of the foundations of preventive care for better health.
What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain, so making better food choices can improve your brain health.
Nutrition basics for the brain
About 20% of your daily calorie intake feeds your brain. For example, if you eat 1,800 calories a day, your brain consumes 360 of those calories. But your brain needs more than just calories. It needs specific nutrients too, such as:
The B vitamins help turn the food you eat into energy for your brain cells. Vitamin B12 and folic acid also support production and protection of brain cells. Not getting an adequate supply of B vitamins may lead to changes in brain function that affect memory and thinking.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects nerve cells from damage, including sensory and motor nerve cells. An inadequate intake of vitamin E may cause muscle weakness or poor coordination.
Omega-3 fats make up a large percentage of the brain. These essential fats help form, preserve, and protect brain cells. Are you feeling more forgetful than usual? You may not be getting enough omega-3 fats in your diet.
Vitamin C, beta carotene, and selenium are antioxidants that also protect brain cells from damage.
Foods for better brain health
You can eat your way to better brain health, but not by following a complicated diet. The foods you need to eat for brain health are the same foods that benefit your overall health.
Foods for better brain health include:
- Whole grains for energy, B vitamins, vitamin E, and antioxidants
- Berries, leafy greens, and other vegetables for antioxidants and B vitamins
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna) for omega-3 fats
- Legumes for B vitamins
- Lean proteins (poultry, seafood, lean red meat) for vitamin B12
- Nuts and seeds for vitamin E and essential fats
When eating for brain health you want to limit foods high in saturated fat (fried foods, cheese, butter) and added sugar. These foods increase inflammation and oxidative stress and may affect the delivery of energy to the brain cells.
Tips for eating better
Changing how you eat isn’t simple. Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, we recommend making gradual changes to your diet.
Start by adding more fruits and vegetables. Then, add foods rich in omega-3 fats (salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds) once or twice a week. Over time, swap out refined grain foods (white bread) for whole grains (100% whole-grain bread).
Making small, manageable changes sets you up for success, makes you feel good about yourself, and motivates you to tackle the next goal.
We can help you develop wellness goals that benefit your brain and overall health with our concierge primary care service, a more attentive type of primary care that gives you greater access to our skilled doctors.
Give our office a call today at 680-206-2794 or book an appointment with our primary care provider online.