There are many different nutrients that protect our brain health, but not all can be created equal.

While my focus on brain health has much to do with the structure of your spine and being free of any underlying structural shifts, we can’t ignore the role nutrition plays in creating a healthy and thriving brain.

Let me just say that I did do some serious searching for articles on brain health and nutrition. All sources are included for your reference.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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Image courtesy of Jo Christian Oterhals. (Flickr CC license)

Yes, this heart saving fatty acid is also excellent for you brain health.

In one study, they actually showed that these healthy fats may help protect the brain after a concussion. Another study showed how these fats improved depression.

Last, but certainly not least, one study showed improved reaction times and memory in HEALTHY ADULTS. I highlighted healthy because most studies are done with disease and symptoms in mind and this one was done on healthy young adults. These are my favorite types of studies!

Obviously, the best source of Omega-3’s is from food, so fatty fish like king mackerel and salmon are an ideal source. However, eating fish daily is impractical and undesirable for almost everyone. Therefore supplementation with a high quality Omega-3 fish oil can help fill the gap.

A high quality fish oil contains a 3/2 ratio of EPA/DHA, contains vitamin E (for freshness). Of course, I will always help you with choosing a quality fish oil.

Probiotics

This is one of the hottest research topics out there. Everyone is trying to crack the code on healthy bacteria. You can find probiotics in many products including Kombucha, yogurt, and many forms of fermented foods.

One of the most exciting things about the science is how gut bacteria can affect almost every other system in the body. I found studies that link gut bacteria to you that number on the scale that I will not mention, blood sugar regulation, and even Parkinson’s. Obviously this important “system” in our body has much more effect than just helping with digestion and bowel movements.

Another exciting field of research is how gut bacteria may be affecting our children. Would you call me crazy if I said, “Your child’s mood is because of their gut bacteria”. Read that study and you many not call me crazy anymore (although my wife says this is a long shot).

Studies are being done to link gut bacteria to depression, anxiety, movement disorders and yes, even autism.

Even with all of the promising research, there are still many questions regarding probiotics. I cannot predict where these studies will ultimately take us, but I have read enough to have every person in my house take probiotics daily, including my 17 month old son who has been supplementing since 6 months of age.

Curcumin

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Image courtesy of Steven Jackson. (Flickr CC license)

I bet this one caught you off guard. Even if it is the “it” supplement of the day, it does have some great health qualities. Enough that I put it in my top 3 brain foods. While the research is still mostly on animals, it does give us a lot of insight into what the mechanism of how this supplement is helping.

This extract of turmeric has been shown to alter the process of Alzheimer’s, tumor formation, diabetes, chronic pain, and even DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness after that long lay off from the gym (don’t worry, I know you would never do that).

It is thought that the chemicals in curcumin are able to help eliminate inflammatory molecules in the body called free radicals, thus reducing inflammation.

While this is great news, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in humans. We also know that cucumin gets mostly destroyed in the stomach and that very little is absorbed into the blood stream. In other words, we don’t know what the best delivery method is quite yet.

However, many people report benefit from a simple curcumin supplement. The risk is very low along with the price and the reward can be very great if you are a chronic pain sufferer that gets some relief.

One way to increase curcumin is to eat more curries and use turmeric in more of your dishes. If you are anything like me, this is not a bad thing to hear.