-By Elaine Collins, Clinical Director, Brain Training Australia
Did you know our brains need calories? It’s true, in fact, the brain uses about one-fifth of our body’s total calories. While our brains are extremely intelligent pieces of machinery, its needs are fairly simplistic. We all know that old saying “you are what you eat” but when it comes to our brain development and well-being, what we eat can actually change the structure and health of our brains. So let’s talk about nutrients and how we can fuel our brains.
How you think (Step 1)
becomes how you feel (Step 2)
becomes how you behave (your mood) (Step 3)
Our output behaviour (or how we behave) is a direct result of how we think and how we feel. So our brains will only go on the basis of the information that you are giving it access to from that Step 1 – How you think. So ask yourself what information are you giving your brain access to. Is it time to change that information or are your Steps 1, 2 and 3 allowing you to be your optimal self?
You can change and influence How You Think (Step 1) to improve your brain cells, your cognitions, thought patterns and in turn your feeling and behaviour or mood. To save you from reading decades of research on therapeutic modalities and dietary requirements on how to achieve this, we have set out below our Top 4 favourite nutrient-rich foods which are backed by scientific evidence.
Omega 3 and Fatty Acids
Oily fish and seafood are both good sources of marine-source Omega 3 which include long-chain fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Try not to get overwhelmed by their complicated names – they are basically essential for eye development and for not only rebuilding and renewing body cells but brain cells also. After the age of 5 years, the brains development and the Central Nervous System (CNS) require fewer DHAs, so for children, this is a really good age to start integrating EPAs as it can support their academic performance, focus, attention, behaviour, anger and aggression. Oily fish is also really helpful for reducing inflammation, dry skin conditions, asthma and allergies. As we age, low EPA can result in mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alongside dyslexia, dyspraxia, heart problems, cognitive decline and dementia, joint and bone conditions, neurodegenerative diseases such as MS and Parkinson’s.
So there has never been a better reason to tuck into some salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, soybeans, nuts and flaxseeds.
Containing flavonoid antioxidants such as anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin and quercetin, these antioxidants can improve the communication between brain cells, and increase plasticity which supports the creation of new neural networks in the brain – linking in beautifully with our speciality of Neurofeedback Brain Training – berries can boost your learning and memory, reduces inflammation throughout the body and reduces or delays age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline.
So be kind to your brain and grab yourself some strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants or mulberries on your next visit to the grocery.
Full of monounsaturated fats, avocados contribute to healthy blood flow and lower blood pressure, thus promoting a healthy brain. They are also a good source of unsaturated fats which can support brain function and lower the risk of cognitive decline. If you don’t like avocados then don’t worry, there are plenty of other options for unsaturated fats such as taking almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, flaxseed, chai seeds, cashews, peanuts, soybean, sunflower oil and fish.
A great source of protein, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and choline which are all really important for healthy brain functionality and development. Let’s focus specifically on choline for a moment, it is an important neurotransmitter for mood, memory, muscle control and nervous system functions. As we get older, the consumption of eggs has been proven to prevent brain shrinkage and delay cognitive decline.
Other Brain-Boosting foods that we love:
- Wholegrains – Oates
- Legumes for iron, folate, protein, fibre, calcium, lentils, chickpeas, beans, and peas. Folate reduces developmental issues, infections and disease.
- Protein and calcium including dairy and yoghurt. Probiotics reduce developmental issues and allergies.
- Lastly, – Leafy Greens such as broccoli, kale, spinach, fibre, Vit C, K A, Calcium, Iron, Folate, and Potassium boost the immune system.
Here at Brain Training Australia™ in Perth, we see clients of all ages from young children to the elderly attending with cognitive and behavioural issues such as anger, frustration, agitation, temper tantrums, getting nervous easily, nail-biting, fidgeting and getting annoyed at others easily for example. We also have a lot of clients attending for peak mental performance reasons, for example, they might be elite athletes or business professionals and need to be able to perform to the best of their ability.
Your behaviour or mood can be caused as a direct result of How You Think (Step 1) which then influences how you feel (Step 2). So we are not interested in putting a bandaid on the problem, for some people that can be sufficient, however, we are more concerned with getting to the root cause of the issue.
So we focus on Step 1 How you think. We are the only Clinic in Perth offering non-linear (non-medical) Neurofeedback Brain Training to retrain the brain’s activity which can regulate how you think. Couple this with a nutrient-rich diet such as the foods listed above and you are on to a winning combination to give your brain the best possible outcome.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health or mental peak performance-related issue as mentioned above, it is very important that you contact a Certified Professional using methods that are grounded in clinical research, to overcome your psychological or emotional challenges. A nutrient-rich diet is a no-brainer (pardon the pun..), coupled with Neurofeedback Brain Training you are giving yourself the best possible option to thrive. We would love to support you on your journey, so please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of Certified Professionals at Brain Training Australia™ to give your brain the boost it needs.
HOW CAN BRAIN TRAINING OPTIMISE MY MENTAL PERFORMANCE?
Neurofeedback Brain Training with a non-linear neurofeedback system such as Neuroptimal(R) is the ultimate brain training session. It is a non-invasive and holistic approach that balances the mind, the emotions and will significantly boost your neuroplastic capabilities. The system is very advanced and most people notice changes and improvements occur very quickly, often after just one session. After 10-15 sessions the majority of people notice significant reductions in stress, anxiety, depression, overthinking, constant thoughts and many other issues. In addition, clients tend to notice less stress, improved resilience, a greater sense of self, and an overall improvement in confidence.
Improving neuroplasticity is a proactive approach to improving and maintaining your health and well-being throughout your lifetime. It keeps your mind nimble, flexible, ready for new information and it maintains and supports optimal mental health.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
The first step is to get in contact with us and if you haven’t done so already – book your First Appointment!
The team at Brain Training Australia™ recognise the unique qualities of all our clients and will work closely with you to personalise your Brain Training Program so that you can achieve your goals of optimal mental processes.
We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life, and to stop having a stressed, overwhelmed and busy brain.
- Zeisel SH, Corbin KD. Choline. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012:405-18.
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.
- Zeisel SH. Choline. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:136-43.