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Brain Food Diet: the Hands-On Guide to Nourishing Your Brain

Sharp minds are always at the top of their game.

There are many ways to boost the brain, but none is as important as feeding it the right food and nutrients. The link between proper diet and optimum mental performance is widely documented. By comparison, poor eating consistently shows a negative impact on all functions of the mind.

With the right diet, you can stay fit and sharpen your mental focus at the same time. Brain foods are healthful eats that keep the body strong and also power up your neurons.

Here, we explain the critical role of diet and nutrition in brain health, round up the best and worst foods for mental focus, and help you formulate a brain food diet plan.

 

Contents

How Does Good Nutrition Boost Your Mental Performance? What Is the Best Diet for Sharpening Mental Focus? What Foods Can Make the Brain Sluggish?How Should You Make A Brain Food Diet Plan? What Else Can Boost Mental Performance Besides the Best Brain Diet? Conclusion

How Does Good Nutrition Boost Your Mental Performance?

The old expression "You are what you eat" sums up food's effects on the body. Feeding it trash makes you constantly feeling sick and energy-drained. Giving it the proper nutrients peps you up and gets you ready for any challenge.

In the brain, food directly influences how you think and interact with your environment. You'll understand why when you take a glimpse of the central nervous system's inner workings.

Food Provides Energy to Your Brain Cells

Food powers up the neurons and their support cells so they can perform their tasks properly. Just like the Energizer bunny will not move with empty batteries, your brain will stop working as it should without fuel.

One gram of carbohydrates yields 4 calories, and proteins have the same amount of energy. Every gram of fat gives off 9 calories. B vitamins are needed to extract fuel from food. Iron delivers oxygen to burn that fuel and boost the brain.

People need all of these nutrients to stay alert and focused. If cars can run on clean fuel, so can your brain, and a well-balanced diet provides that.

energy food

The Energy Content of Food

Nutrients Build Up the Neurons

Calories do not tell you the entire story. Recent evidence shows that the quality of food impacts health more than the amount taken.

For example, some nutrients do not only perk up the brain but also help form new neurons and protect other structures. Such nutrients make up a "high-quality diet." On the other hand, “low-quality foods" provide only calories and no other benefits. They may even release pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body.

The following nutrients are found in high-quality diets:

  • Fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), make up the brain's cell membranes. These substances speed up brain signals, boosting reflexes, memory retrieval, problem-solving and other mental tasks. DHA and EPA are essential fatty acids. The body does not make them, so they have to be obtained from the diet.
  • Carbohydrates and proteins are the building blocks of many structures inside and outside of the brain cells. High-quality carbohydrates come from whole grains. Meanwhile, high-quality proteins come from sources that have more essential fatty acids than non-essential ones.
  • DNA and RNA are needed for new brain cell formation. They also initiate the production of hormones and brain-signaling chemicals called "neurotransmitters." Uridine, obtained from dark green vegetables, is a component of RNA. Thymidine, a DNA component, is derived from uridine.
  • Vitamins, notably vitamins C and K, help build brain cells, support cells, blood vessels and connective tissues. Minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. also aid in forming these structures.
  • Curcumin stimulates the growth of new neurons, powering up the memory and focus. It promotes brain cell regrowth and plasticity after an injury.

The best brain diet combines all these nutrients as each has a unique role in maintaining health and peak performance.

Diet Dictates Mental Function

A healthy brain has all its parts working synergistically. Cells communicate like clockwork when neurotransmitters and hormones are in a perfect balance. These brain chemicals are made using different nutrients, too.

  • Acetylcholine is derived from alpha-glycerophosphocholine, a substance found in high amounts in eggs and legumes. This neurotransmitter is involved in muscle movement, digestion, cardiovascular health, visual focus, maintaining wakefulness and many other functions. Its deficiency is responsible for most Alzheimer's disease symptoms. Acetylcholine imbalance gives rise to Parkinsonian involuntary movements.
  • Dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter, is made from amino acids, which come from digested proteins. Curcumin stimulates its production. Dopamine enhances attention, movement control, reward-motivated behavior and mood. It is severely depleted in Parkinson's disease. Dopamine imbalance is implicated in depression and ADHD.
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is another neurotransmitter made from amino acids. It induces sleep and prevents overstimulation of the brain.
  • Norepinephrine, another molecule that functions as a hormone and neurotransmitter, is made from amino acids through several vitamin-aided steps. It works like caffeine because it keeps you alert and focused. It also improves mood. Vitamin C, B vitamins and curcumin enhance its production.
  • Serotonin is amino-acid-derived and helps elevate the mood. Serotonin deficiency is associated with depression. Curcumin increases brain serotonin levels.
  • Brain neurotrophic-derived factor (BDNF) is a growth factor, a protein molecule that promotes brain cell resilience and regeneration. It enhances neuroplasticity and learning. Curcumin is a nutrient that can stimulate BDNF secretion.

Brain foods improve focus and mental performance because they are rich in high-quality nutrients that boost the above substances.

Good Food Protects the Brain from Disease

The best brain diet helps protect from illnesses that can drastically weaken mental performance. Uridine and B vitamins are crucial to immune function. Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and trans-resveratrol trap free radicals and other toxic substances that can promote inflammation. Curcumin and vitamin C help combat both biological and chemical disease agents.

In contrast, the standard American diet lacks these important nutrients. It is also high in substances that introduce stress in the body and aggravate illness, particularly, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and excess sugars.

Electrolyte and Fluid Balance Are Crucial to Mental Alertness and Focus

Proper nutrition and hydration maintain the smooth electrolyte flow in the neurons, which is also necessary for signal transmission. Electrolyte and fluid imbalances can compromise mental function and may be fatal in severe cases.

futbol

A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.

 As you can see, nutrition has multiple vital roles in the brain, so careful food selection is key to optimum mental performance. Sadly, many active people are so accustomed to the standard American diet, which contributes little to proper neuronal function and upkeep. If you're on this diet and feeling constantly stressed, depressed, and distracted, you might consider switching to a regimen that will nourish the brain back to health.

“When it comes to overall brain health, just adding certain supplements will sharpen your brain”

Bindya Gandhi, M.D
Integrative & Functional, Family Doc

What Is the Best Diet for Sharpening Mental Focus?

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of the MIND diet on mental performance.

"MIND" stands for "Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay," while "DASH" is short for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension."

Both the Mediterranean and DASH regimens are consistent with the USDA and HHS' concept of a healthy eating pattern. A healthy eating pattern includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, proteins and oils. It is also rich in potassium and low on sodium, added sugars and saturated and trans fats.

Studies show that people on a healthy eating pattern, such as the MIND diet, have laser-sharp focus, emotional and psychological balance and exceptional memory that can remain until well into the retirement years. Individuals with sustained focus achieve mental momentum that primes them for long runs of success in any endeavor.

In each food group recommended by the health experts, there are some with specific neurologic benefits and can, therefore, be truly called "brain foods."

vegetables

  Vegetables:

Vegetables have high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and alpha-glycerophosphocholine. The brain foods in this group are broccoli, soybeans and turmeric.

Broccoli is a dark green vegetable rich in vitamin K, which helps build brain fats, and uridine.

Soybeans are legumes that have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals.

Turmeric is a root vegetable that has high amounts of curcumin.

  Fruits:

Fruits have lots of dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. The brain foods in this group are grapes, berries, oranges and cocoa.

Grapes and berries are rich sources of the potent stilbenoid antioxidant trans-resveratrol. Red wine, one of the MIND diet's main components, is made from grapes.

Oranges are rich in vitamin C.

Cocoa is best taken as dark chocolate. It has caffeine, which boosts alertness and focus, and different types of flavonoid antioxidants.

  Grains:

Aside from starch, which is a major carbohydrate source, grains have dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. The best for the brain are whole grains like brown rice, oats and quinoa.

Active individuals may take refined grains as long as they are fortified with nutrients that are lost during processing. However, for better blood sugar control, whole grains must make up more than half of one’s daily carbohydrate intake.

outmeal

  Low-fat dairy:

Low-fat dairy contains 1% fat or lower. This food group includes low-fat milk, yogurt and soymilk. The fats taken out during processing are mostly saturated types. Low-fat dairy is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and alpha-glycerophosphocholine. Fortified milk and soymilk have high amounts of omega-3 oils.

  Proteins:

Animal and plant proteins also have vitamins and minerals. The brain foods in this group are fatty fish, poultry meat, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Fatty fish are rich sources of DHA, EPA, iron and vitamins B12 and D. This group includes salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines and trout.

Some fatty fish have high levels of mercury, which can impair mental performance, among many things. This is due to their exposure to contaminated water present in some geographic areas. They include bluefish, some tuna species, shark, king mackerel, etc. They are better avoided or taken in reduced quantities.

Poultry meat is high in niacin (vitamin B3) and iron. Eggs are rich in alpha-glycerophosphocholine.

Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E and omega-3 oils. Nuts include walnuts and butternuts. Seeds include chia and flax seeds.

6  Oils:

Oils are fats with large amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which make them liquid at room temperature. The brain foods in this group are flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low on saturated fats. Olive oil, which is mostly composed of monounsaturated fats, is a MIND diet mainstay.

A diet containing all these food groups will help you enhance your mental focus, stay within a healthy weight range and avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Make sure you give your brain the best food

Help your brain get what it needs to flourish, every day.

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Miss America Org

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What Foods Can Make the Brain Sluggish?

For cardiovascular and mental health, nutrition experts advise limiting the intake of the following dietary components:

  Added (simple) sugars:

Simple sugars are present in abundant amounts in sweetened beverages, pastries, creams, candies, etc. It can cause blood glucose spikes—what we call "the sugar high"—which give the body and brain a huge but transient energy boost.

In normal young individuals, insulin clears excess glucose within two hours of eating, leading to an equally abrupt decrease in energy and mental alertness. Over time, however, chronic excess glucose intake will lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a condition wherein the body has a hard time normalizing blood glucose levels. T2DM not only results in cardiovascular complications but also kills off neurons.

The neurologic complications of T2DM include blindness, digestive impairment, numbness of the feet and hands and early-onset cognitive decline. T2DM is also a risk for stroke.

The recommended daily limit for added sugars is 10% of the total calories consumed. In a 2,000-calorie diet, this is equivalent to about 12 teaspoons of sugar. For your reference, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has about 10 teaspoons of sugar.

  Refined carbohydrates:

Refined carbohydrates are processed whole grains. Unless fortified, they lose most of the good nutrients during processing. Even if they are fortified, one thing about them is that they can cause blood glucose spikes, just like simple sugars.

Sources of refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, pastries and breakfast cereals. Individuals who have them in their diet must replace at least half of their daily intake with whole grains.

burguer

A diet high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can seriously impair mental and physical performance. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke all lead to neurologic decline at an early age.

  Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol:

The human body makes saturated fats and cholesterol abundantly as they are important for structural maintenance and energy production. They are, therefore, non-essential fats. However, the standard American diet increases their levels beyond what is needed for normal function. They do not just raise cardiovascular risk but also have the ability to impair mental performance.

Saturated and trans fats are found in fatty red meat, whole milk, margarine, butter, cream cheese, processed foods and fast food. Unlike oils, they become solid at normal temperatures. In the brain, they can make cell membranes less fluid, making neuronal communication difficult. They can also induce inflammation and reduce blood flow, which can injure brain structures and decrease mental focus.

Cholesterol is a vital component of cell membranes and hormones, but the body can create its own supply. Dietary cholesterol adds to it unnecessarily. Excess deposits of this fatty substance in the blood vessels reduce blood flow, trigger inflammation and increase stroke risk.

The recommended daily limit for saturated fats is 10% of the total calories taken. The USDA does not set upper limits for trans fats and cholesterol but recommends that they must be avoided as much as possible. As a rule, most foods high in saturated fats also have plenty of trans fats and cholesterol.

  Salt:

The standard American diet contains a lot of salt, and therefore, sodium. Some canned vegetables and meat also have high salt content.

This electrolyte is needed for normal function, including mental tasks. However, excessive amounts lead to hypertension, which suffocates the brain and accelerates cognitive decline.

The recommended daily limit for sodium intake is 2,300 mg. This is equivalent to about one teaspoon of table salt.

  Alcohol:

Too much alcohol can compromise mental performance, and chronically high levels can damage the brain. Excessive drinking during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. And we all know why drunk-driving is never a good idea.

The USDA recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink a day for women and two for men. One drink has 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to 12 fl. oz. of regular beer, 5 fl. oz. of wine or 1.5 fl. oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits.

drink

The MIND diet includes moderate red wine intake, but this is more for the beverage's antioxidant properties and not its alcohol content. People who prefer to have red wine in their regimen can have one glass a day. There is no recommendation that those who are not taking alcohol should start doing it. They can get the brain booster trans-resveratrol from other foods and supplements.

Except for alcohol, these substances are the principal components of the standard American diet. That is why there has been a steep rise in neurological and mental health issues in the last few decades. However, limiting their intake has been shown to enhance mental focus, delay cognitive decline and maintain psychological well-being.

How Should You Make A Brain Food Diet Plan?

A proven nutritional strategy for improving brain health is the MIND diet plan.

The MIND diet includes the following:

  Dark green vegetables—at least 6 servings a week
  Other vegetables—at least 1 serving a day
  Nuts—5 servings a week
  Berries—at least 2 servings a week
  Beans—at least 3 servings a week
6  Whole grains—at least 3 servings a day
7  Fish—1 serving a week
8  Poultry—2 servings a week
9  Olive oil—regular use
10  Red wine—once a day, but not mandatory

Meanwhile, it also has the following restrictions:

  Red meat—no more than 4 servings a week
  Butter and margarine—no more than 1 tablespoon daily
  Cheese—no more than 1 serving a week
  Pastries and sweets—no more than 5 servings a week
  Fast food—no more than 1 serving a week 

 

For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, a sample 3-day meal plan can look like this:

table days

These meals require short preparation time. However, if you are too busy to cook but want to ensure that your neurons stay healthy, there's always doctor-formulated Brain Assist.

Brain Assist has six of the most powerful brain boosters known: alpha-glycerophosphocholine, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, trans-resveratrol, uridine and vitamin C. One pack of this delicious smoothie is enough to keep you focused throughout the day, ready to build mental momentum.

What Else Can Boost Mental Performance Besides the Best Brain Diet?

You may be tired of hearing it from the health buffs, and yet they're right. Studies show that consistent brain training and physical activity can also perk up the brain. When combined with a brain-healthy diet, they can improve mental performance and help stave off cognitive decline.

Brain games involve repeating various perceptual and cognitive tasks over extended periods. Playing fast-paced video games has been associated with better vision, attention, processing speed and decision-making skills among young adults. Engagement in commercially available computerized cognitive games has been found to improve mental function in older individuals.

Meanwhile, physical exercise is known to induce BDNF. This growth factor stimulates brain cell regeneration in the hippocampus, the center of memory and learning. Regular physical activity is known to help older individuals stay sharp and focused.

Other ways that can safely and effectively boost your mental focus are sleep, stress reduction and minimizing toxic exposures.

Conclusion

 

The best brain diet provides energy, enhances neuronal resilience and growth, promotes proper function, fights disease and ensures electrolyte balance. The standard American diet lacks most of these qualities, so it does not contribute much to brain health.

On the other hand, a healthy eating pattern, such as the MIND diet, has a combination of powerful brain boosters that help keep the mind sharp for a very long time. Sustained focus builds mental momentum, a major determinant of lifelong success. Therefore, active individuals who want to stay at peak performance levels should switch to such a regimen.

 

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best omega-3 for kids options

Omega-3 fatty acids are substances that have structural and functional significance in the body. They are essential nutrients—human cells cannot make omega-3s on their own and must obtain them from the diet.

Years of research clearly demonstrates the benefits of omega-3-rich regimens, especially among children. Many food groups have high omega-3 fatty acid content, but they may not all be appetizing to picky eaters. Parents may think of giving supplements, but they may have questions about their safety and dosage, or they may be unsure if they work at all.

In this guide, we explain what omega-3 fatty acids are, how good they are for the body and how their health benefits can help children crush their milestones. We also discuss their natural sources, how you can give them to the pickiest eaters at your home, and when to consider giving omega-3 supplements to kids.

 

Contents

First Things First — What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? What Are the Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Child's Body? What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids? What Dosage of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Safe for Children?What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids? How Can You Get Your Kids to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids? Conclusion

First Things First — What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a class of compounds called "polyunsaturated fatty acids" or PUFAs. These substances have multiple unsaturated bonds, or "double bonds,” that let them remain fluid at normal temperatures—a property that is crucial to cellular function. 

dha

Omega-3 fatty acids are named after the omega-3 unsaturated bond. Three omega-3 oils are important to humans: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

  DHA

DHA is the central nervous system's most abundant omega-3 fatty acid and is critical to early brain and eye (retinal) structural development. Babies primarily get it from breast milk or when they start feeding on omega-3-rich food.

  EPA

EPA is also present in the central nervous system, but in lesser amounts. It stays less in the brain's fatty membranes because it is more involved in combating inflammation than DHA. EPA is also obtained from human milk and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

  ALA

ALA does not have any specific role in the body, but cells can transform it into DHA and EPA.

omega 3 fatty acyds, dha & epa

Omega-3 Fatty Acids That Are Important to Human Growth

Flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts are abundant sources of ALA. On the other hand, DHA and EPA are best obtained from fatty fish. Lactating mothers on omega-3-rich diets have higher amounts of these nutrients in their milk, which is good for exclusively breastfed infants.

Another class of essential nutrients with properties similar to those of omega-3 fatty acids is the omega-6 fatty acid group. In the human body, arachidonic acid (AA) is the most important molecule belonging to this group.

arachidonic

How is this information relevant to your child’s health?

In the body, big protein molecules called "enzymes" accelerate various chemical transformations. Some of them activate PUFAs in the tissues. Enzymes are big enough to engulf PUFAs, but omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete for sites within the enzymes. A balance between the two groups is needed for optimum health. 

“We need these(Alpha GPC and DHA omegas) in our children. We need these during pregnancy. We need these before pregnancy. Moms who are breast-feeding need to be taking these nutrients. Babies need to be taking these nutrients.”

Dr. Ari Calhoun
Naturopathic Doctor

What Are the Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Child's Body?

Omega-3 fatty acids have crucial functions in a child's body. The most important ones are explained below.

Building Blocks of Cell Membranes

The cell membrane is the barrier that surrounds every cell. It is made mostly of fat, but protein and carbohydrate structures are embedded in it. Some of these embedded structures "swim" sideways within the membranes when cells communicate.

Brain Cells Interacting at Lightning Speed at the Synapse

The Brain Cells Interacting at Lightning Speed at the Synapse

 In the brain, neuronal communication is a fast process. Children's reflexes, memory retrieval, multiplication skills, emotional regulation and other mental tasks depend on the signaling between different brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, mostly DHA, keep the brain cell membranes fluid to ensure that message transmission occurs within a split-second.

DHA starts to build up in the central nervous system, mainly in the gray matter, before birth. This process is critical to cognitive and visual development. Both DHA and EPA continue to deposit in the brain cell membranes throughout life, but enzymes act on them so they can perform other functions. That is why dietary replenishment is so important.

Skeletal and heart muscles also have high omega-3 fatty acid content. Body movement, such as when your kid is returning a tennis serve, entails fast signaling similar to that in the brain. Cell membrane fluidity is crucial in muscular contraction. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are needed for proper muscle growth.

Reduction of Inflammation

PUFAs play a significant role in inflammatory processes throughout the body. Enzymes turn them into inflammatory molecules called "eicosanoids," which include prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes. They are some of the molecules responsible for the following:

  Post-injury pain, swelling, warmth and redness

  Allergic rashes and cough

  Fever during an infection

Omega-3 derivatives have actions different from those of their omega-6 counterparts. The former combat inflammation while the latter promote the process. Both groups of molecules are needed for normal function. However, a higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids, typical of the standard American diet, can make kids susceptible to frequent bouts of inflammation.

In the brain, EPA is more often transformed into an eicosanoid than DHA. However, both inhibit the formation and actions of AA derivatives, helping inflammation resolve quickly after it starts.

Omega-3 fatty acids absorb toxic free radicals, thanks to their unsaturated bonds. They also reduce the formation of two other groups of inflammatory molecules, the interleukins and tumor necrosis factors.

enzyme

 Keeping Bad Cholesterol in Check

Cholesterol plaques are collections of excess cholesterol—another type of fat molecule—and debris that build up in the blood vessels over time. Plaque formation begins as early as childhood, and it can speed up or slow down, depending on one's diet and genetic factors.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka "bad cholesterol," is a combination of proteins, cholesterol and saturated and trans fats. The liver produces cholesterol and saturated fats after a high-calorie meal, so they're not essential in the diet. Meanwhile, trans fats come from solid fats like margarine and red meat fat, but they are not needed in the human body.

LDL hastens cholesterol plaque formation, clogs the vessels and reduces blood flow. Plaques trigger inflammation and eventually lead to heart failure, stroke, kidney damage, painful diseases of the limbs and many other disorders. Genetically at-risk individuals can develop these conditions as early as the late teens.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good cholesterol," picks up the excess cholesterol deposited in the blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids increase both LDL and HDL but raise HDL to a greater degree. A high HDL-LDL ratio promotes cardiovascular health.

Improvement of Blood Flow

Plaque formation does not just lead to inflammation but also induces blood clotting and blood vessel narrowing. Cholesterol plaque can build up in all body organs, but in young people, the most serious ones can form in the brain, heart, limbs and kidneys. Omega-3 fatty acid derivatives prevent blood clotting and blood vessel narrowing, improving blood flow in plaque-ridden areas of the body.

Kids stay strong and have brighter futures when they have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids aiding in these functions. On the other hand, sticking to the omega-3-deficient standard American diet makes them vulnerable to many childhood illnesses, which can keep them from reaching their full potential. The earlier kids increase their omega-3 fatty acid levels, the sooner they can gain their advantages.

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What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids?

Healthy kids grow up to become intellectually, emotionally and physically resilient adults. Omega-3 fatty acids support children's health, letting them become bold conquerors of life's challenges. Clinical and epidemiological studies prove the beneficial actions of these essential nutrients.

Improved Mental Performance

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to impact various areas of kids’ mental function and development.

  Cognition:

Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids can enhance kids’ cognition. In one study, individuals aged 4-25 who received omega-3 supplements did better in word tests, serial subtractions, color recognition and other cognitive function measures compared to the placebo group. In another, toddlers breastfed by mothers who supplemented with omega-3s during pregnancy and lactation performed better in IQ tests than the placebo group.

  Sleep and IQ:

Fish oil supplements were found to improve sleep quality among school-age children. Additionally, sleep quality was shown to directly correlate with IQ.

  Mood regulation:

In one study, 12 weeks of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improved mood ratings in children and adolescents with diagnosed mood disorders. This supported previous findings of omega-3s being able to reduce depressive symptoms among the young.

  ADHD Symptoms:

A meta-analysis concluded that omega-3 supplements could improve ADHD symptoms, enhancing attention span, behavioral control and school performance among affected kids. ADHD symptoms are attributed to saturated fats, simple sugars, and sodium, which are present in large amounts in the standard American diet.

5  Self-esteem:

Adherence to an omega-3-rich diet is consistently linked to academic excellence, physical fitness, psychological balance and high self-esteem among healthy adolescents and pre-adolescents.

Good cognition, emotional intelligence and high self-esteem are some of the clear benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. These qualities help young people build mental momentum, which is critical to achieving and sustaining success in every aspect of life.

piano girl

Enhanced Cardiovascular Function

The American Heart Association recommends that adults regularly take omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular health. Pediatricians have yet to come up with a consensus, but the following studies prove their cardiovascular benefits for younger people:

  Omega-3 fatty acid levels inversely correlate with obesity and insulin resistance among school-age children.

  In one study, the intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplements led to total blood cholesterol reduction among overweight school-age girls. It also resulted in better blood pressure control among overweight school-age boys.

  In a study involving young kids at risk of undernutrition, the intake of omega-3 supplements increased blood flow to the brain, resulting in cognitive enhancement.

What this means is that omega-3 fatty acids can keep the heart and blood vessels healthy for a long time. Adequate intake helps ensure that your child will not be held back by a bad heart before reaching their peak.

Modulation of Inflammatory Responses

Research shows that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake can reduce the symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases among pediatric patients.

  In a group of school-age children, higher omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with fewer asthmatic attacks and a lesser need for bronchodilator therapy. Increased omega-6 fatty acid intake was associated with opposing trends.

  Various studies show that young women with lupus experience symptomatic improvement with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

  In a group of pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the Mediterranean diet, a regimen requiring high seafood intake, was associated with reduced intestinal inflammation.

  Preliminary studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may retard the development of some pediatric cancers.

Chronic inflammation wears people out, and its cancer risk is real no matter what age. Omega-3 fatty acids modulate kids’ inflammatory responses, keeping them on track to meet their goals.

Omega-3 fatty acids boost kids' focus, emotional intelligence and cardiac health and normalize their inflammatory responses. They help children effortlessly leap across the finish line instead of huffing and puffing in the middle of the race. If you want to help your kid become a confident and successful adult, increasing their omega-3 intake now will be your best move.

What Dosage of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Recommended for Children?

The following table shows the adequate daily intakes of omega-3 oils in the pediatric population, as recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.

table

*As total omega-3 fats
**As ALA. About 15-20% of ALA is converted to other omega-3 fatty acids.
***Increases to 1.4 g during pregnancy and 1.3 g during lactation

This table mostly refers to ALA as the primary omega-3 fatty acid source. However, only 15-20% of it is converted to DHA, the brain's predominant fatty component, and EPA, the body's protector from inflammation. Optimum development requires more DHA and EPA than what dietary ALA can produce.

How do you know if your child is taking enough omega-3 fatty acids?

Take note of the foods they eat, look up their omega-3 fatty acid content on the USDA's FoodData Central page and add up the numbers. You may compare them with what the above table recommends as the minimum for their age and gender.

However, optimum growth requires more, and the FDA states that children can have as much as 3.0 g of total daily omega-3s, including DHA and EPA. Additionally, you must make room for illnesses because they also deplete the body's stores of these nutrients. The risk of developing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency should concern you because the condition is damaging to children's health.

The standard American diet includes foods rich in simple sugars, as well as flavor enhancers filled with saturated and trans fats. And when kids look at their friends and people on TV taking pleasure in eating such foods, it's easy to understand why they would be tempted to do the same and pass up on your salmon casserole.

However, these edibles are low on omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acid insufficiency leads to dermatologic problems, poor cardiovascular function, chronic inflammation, behavioral issues, learning difficulties and the inability to concentrate. These complications can impair children's development and wreck their future.

If your kid is on this dangerous path, you might think of forcing them to eat healthy. However, parent-child conflict, even over small matters like food, can traumatize growing kids. Doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Brain Boost was made to address this problem.

Similarly, Brain Assist can support parents focused on becoming the best parents they can be by giving them a complete brain-boosting nutrient combination.

“With the blend of turmeric and omega fatty acids in Cover Three, I felt amazing. And I've tried a lot of nootropics and with Cover Three I definitely experienced better brain function”

Dr. Amber Krogsrud
Naturopathic

What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Some of the known side effects of Omega-3 fatty acids are:

  Bad odor of the sweat and breath

  Digestive problems, because fat intake can irritate the gut

  Taste intolerance

  There has also been some concern about omega-3 fatty acids interfering with normal clotting.


Blood clotting is a process that depends on the balance between clotting promoters and suppressors. Blood will clot if the promoters predominate, but it will stay fluid if the suppressors prevail. Blood that is too thick or clots easily can clog the vessels and deprive the cells of oxygen. On the other hand, blood thinning can also rupture blood vessels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to keep this balance. When taken in the recommended amounts, the risk of bleeding is insignificant. Studies among adult cardiac patients taking omega-3 oil supplements are inconclusive at best. Remember that some of them are even taking blood thinners for their condition. In children, one research showed that fish oil supplementation is safe even for high-risk post-surgical patients.

The FDA recommends that the total daily omega-3 fatty acid intake should not exceed 3.0 g, and as much as 2.0 g can come from supplements. However, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the consumption of 5.0 g of combined omega-3 oils daily has not been associated with adverse effects in healthy children or adults.

How Can You Get Your Kids to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

cereal

Now that you know more about the benefits and safety of omega-3s, your next concern may be about how to give them to picky eaters.

You can get kid-friendly recipes incorporating omega-3-rich foods, such as:

  Fortified milk, which you can serve as is or mixed in soup or cereals.
  Walnuts, which you can mix in pastries.
  Flaxseed oil, which you can mix in dressings.
  Canola oil, which you may regularly use for cooking.
5  And fatty fish—the richest DHA and EPA source of all—which you can bake, steam or grill.

However, we all know that the struggle is harder with some kids. You may try giving them fish oil, but it is known for its funny smell and taste and tendency to cause allergies. Chewable gel capsules are another option, but some kids don't think they're fun.

Last but not the least, you may try doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Brain Boost. It has that yummy orange taste that kids love. Besides being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it is packed with other brain boosters to improve your child's mental and physical performance.

alpha   Alpha-glycerophosphocholine

—boosts alertness, memory and focus. It also helps power up muscle movement.

curcumin   Curcumin

—sharpens memory and focus while keeping the mood up and protecting from inflammation.

trans   Trans-resveratrol

—a powerful free radical neutralizer, protecting the brain and body from stress.

uridine   Uridine

—aids brain cell development, body growth and immune function.

vitamin c  Vitamin C

—powers up the immune system while enhancing mental focus.

One pack of this delicious smoothie is enough to keep your kids sharp all day. You can give it plain, together with a snack or mixed with ice cream. Not only is it tasty and nutritious, but it is also safe to take every day.

Conclusion

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that help build cell membranes, boost mental performance, fight inflammation and ensure cardiovascular health. They are obtained mostly from the diet, and rich sources include fatty fish, nuts, seeds and fortified milk. They are generally safe for children when given at the right amounts.

However, picky eaters and chronically sick kids are at risk of developing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Cover Three Kids Brain Boost is a yummy supplement that can ensure that your child is getting enough omega-3s to support their full development. It also has other mental focus boosters that can help them build mental momentum and secure a brighter tomorrow.

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How to Ramp Up Your BDNF and Mental Focus by Fasting

In 2016, the Nobel Prize recognized Yoshinori Ohsumi for his pioneering work in autophagy, a cellular process triggered by starvation. The benefits of fasting on overall health are widely documented, but Dr. Ohsumi's win made the subject even more popular. Since then, more people have sought to uncover the exact mechanisms by which dietary restriction enhanced bodily functions and slowed down aging.

BDNF is known to promote neuroplasticity, boost mental performance and delay age-associated cognitive decline. Scientists found that intermittent fasting could unleash this molecule in the brain.

How does fasting ramp up BDNF? Can it truly sharpen your mind?

In this article, we talk about how fasting contributes to brain health and how you can practice it to increase your mental focus.

So first, let's discuss the molecule that makes all these things happen.

 

Contents

What Is BDNF? How Does BDNF Link Fasting with Brain Health? What Other Factors Can Stimulate the Brain to Make More BDNF? Even if There Were Other Ways to Draw Out BDNF, Why Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?What Fasting Schedules Are Best for Inducing BDNF Secretion? Do Brain Supplements and Fasting Go Together? Conclusion

What Is BDNF?

“BDNF” is short for “brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor.”

As the name implies, growth factors are chemicals that regulate cell growth and multiplication. They also block mechanisms that lead to cell death. BDNF is found in many parts of the body but is most highly concentrated in the brain, where it is known to exert these effects:

what is bdnf

  Stimulate the growth of new neurons

New brain cell formation, or “neurogenesis,” starts in the womb. In adults, neurogenesis mainly takes place in the hippocampus, where it is vital to memory and continuous learning. It can cease during early adulthood without proper care. BDNF stimulates the growth of new neurons, powering up the mind and keeping it sharp for a long time.

   Aid in the formation and reinforcement of neuronal connections

Synaptogenesis is a process linking different brain cells by forming structures called "synapses." These junctions are important for cell-to-cell communication and long-term memory.

BDNF stimulates synaptogenesis and makes synapses more efficient at transmitting signals. It likewise induces the growth of nerve branches called “dendrites,” which also help speed up cell signaling.

  Promote brain plasticity and adaptation

Do you remember learning how to read for the first time? It was slow at first but got better with practice. The same goes for any new skill you acquire and use repeatedly. By promoting synaptogenesis and dendrite growth, BDNF helps rewire the brain, enabling people to adjust to their new circumstances.

Conversely, BDNF deficiency is associated with various cognitive and psychological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's dementia, insomnia, schizophrenia and depression. Optimal levels of this growth factor promote brain health.

 

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How Does BDNF Link Fasting with Brain Health?

In the first couple of hours after eating, your brain's primary fuel is the simple carbohydrate glucose. Once insulin clears up the excess glucose in your blood, the body starts to use up fat for energy. With continued fasting, your fat cells will release increasing amounts of fatty acids, which the liver will convert to ketones. Ketones will reach peak levels around 12 hours after your last meal.

 

Plasma hormones:

Insulin - stores excess glucose

Glucagon - releases glucose and fatty acids From body stores during fasting

Metabolic fuels:

Glucose - comes from food after eating and from body stores at the start of fasting

Fatty acids - mainly come from body stores during fasting

Ketone bodies - form from excess free fatty acids

Relative Changes in Plasma Hormones and Metabolic Fuels During Fasting

We've all learned to adapt to stress. Fasting is a form of stress that stimulates BDNF secretion. This growth factor mediates the changes that let the brain adjust to the stress. However, the fasting period’s duration is critical to the timing of its induction.

“Fasting is a form of stress that stimulates BDNF secretion”

Mouse studies reveal that BDNF levels surge after 12 hours of starvation when ketones start to become the brain's primary fuel. These events correlate with adaptive neuronal changes:

  BDNF levels plummet in the hypothalamus but shoot up in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

  In the hypothalamus, where BDNF is low, autophagy begins. Autophagy is a cellular housekeeping mechanism that starts after long periods of fasting. Normally, it degrades and recycles different cellular structures, including microbial proteins captured when fighting an infection. It conserves resources and disrupts mechanisms that promote growth.

  Autophagy eats up hypothalamic synapses during fasting. The hypothalamus is in charge of bodily functions like feeding and energy production. Synaptic autophagy in this part of the brain sends signals to the body to eat and make more ketones.

 The BDNF rise in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex inhibits autophagy. Remember that the hippocampus is the seat of memory and learning. Meanwhile, the prefrontal cortex is in charge of problem-solving, judgment and motivation. By inhibiting autophagy in these areas, the animal learns to cope with the stress and develops new behaviors that will let it respond better in the future.

brain

The Prefrontal Lobe, Hypothalamus and Hippocampus

Autophagy literally means "eating the self." Cells undergo the process to survive long periods of stress, but too much of it is also harmful. BDNF suppression balances autophagy's effects in the brain, making it resilient and primed to learn from the experience.

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What Fasting Schedules Are Best for Inducing BDNF Secretion?

 

There are a lot of fasting regimens being touted by different sources. However, if we go by the science, optimum fasting BDNF secretion in humans is expected to occur after 12 hours of starvation or strict caloric limitation. The ones that meet this requirement are briefly described below.

  Warrior's Diet

This entails restricting your intake to only small bites of fruits and vegetables during the day, capping it off with a large meal at night. The regimen is repeated every day. People who are practicing intermittent fasting for the first time will find the Warrior's Diet the easiest to follow.

  5:2 Diet

Here, you can eat normally 5 days of the week and reduce your intake to 500-600 calories on 2 separate days. This regimen is popular because, like the Warrior's Diet, it does not involve strict fasting, and the choice of fasting days is flexible.

  16/8 Plan

This diet limits the eating window to just 8 hours daily, although some extend it to 10 hours. So the fasting window is 14-16 hours long. You can schedule most of your intake in the middle of the day, during which time you are free to eat any food in any amount you want. Fasting may start a few hours before bedtime and end at lunch the next day, but you may choose any 16-hour period that is comfortable for you.

  Alternate-Day Fasting

The ideal approach to this plan is to eat normally on eating days and drink only calorie-free beverages, like water and unsweetened tea, on fasting days. However, it's a difficult regimen to sustain, so others would rather restrict to 500-600 calories on fasting days than eat nothing. Choose whichever routine is more comfortable for you.

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What Other Factors Can Stimulate the Brain to Make More BDNF?

Aside from fasting, there are other ways to increase BDNF levels in the brain. They can be classified according to the mechanisms they involve.

  Brain stimulation:

BDNF is a growth factor essential to learning, which occurs significantly with repeated stimulation. Brain exercises, physical training and social interaction provide this stimulus. Meanwhile, sunlight exposure excites the retinas, the sensory regions behind the eyes that connect to the optic nerves. Activating these intracranial nerves jolts other parts of the brain, including BDNF-producing cells.

  Glucose depletion:

Activities that simulate prolonged glucose deprivation and increase ketones in the blood trigger BDNF secretion. They include sleep, regular exercise and the ketogenic diet.

  Stress reduction:

Too much stress increases stress hormones in the blood uncontrollably, suppressing BDNF production in the hippocampus. Activities that diminish stress, like sleep, meditation, and breathing exercises, reduce stress hormones and liberate BDNF in the brain.

  Nutrition:

Certain brain foods and nutrients are known to trigger BDNF secretion. Regular intake of these dietary components is proven to enhance memory and mental focus and delay cognitive decline.

  • Alpha-glycerophosphocholine is the precursor of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that boosts alertness and mental concentration. Aside from increasing BDNF levels in the brain, it is also involved in muscle contraction, digestion, vision and other vital bodily functions. Alpha-glycerophosphocholine is found in milk, eggs and vegetables.
  • Curcumin has many beneficial effects on the brain, as it helps fight inflammation, boost immune function and regulate mood levels. Turmeric and curry are its main sources.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are building blocks of the cell membrane, making them crucial in brain cell communication. They also curb inflammation and trap toxic free radicals. Fatty fish, soybeans and walnuts are rich sources of these nutrients.
  • Trans-resveratrol is a powerful stilbenoid antioxidant that is obtained from grapes, berries and red wine.
  • Uridine, a building block of RNA and DNA's thymidine, is essential in making protein molecules like BDNF. It also powers up the immune system and is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Broccoli and other leafy greens are its rich sources.
  • Vitamin C boosts the immune system, traps toxic free radicals, regulates sugar levels and helps produce brain chemicals called "neurotransmitters." Oranges and other citrus fruits are its best sources.

You can get all these mental focus enhancers from a well-balanced, brain-healthy diet. Active individuals who might have suboptimal regimens and forget one or two of these components may benefit from a complete brain supplement like Brain Assist.

Even if There Were Other Ways to Draw Out BDNF, Why Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?

“The increase in clarity of mind I’ve been feeling from intermittent fasting is outstanding. And hard for me to achieve otherwise. I now do it on most of the days when I work at a computer”

Branko Kral
Head of Content & Analytics
at Chosen Data

As previously mentioned, intermittent fasting benefits the entire body, not just the brain. Its impact on overall health and mental performance has been demonstrated in various clinical settings.

  Sugar fluctuations in the brain trigger some forms of epilepsy. Patients with such conditions have low BDNF levels in the central nervous system. Ketogenic diets enhance BDNF secretion and reduce seizure occurrences, which is why they are recommended interventions for some epilepsy syndromes.

  Autism is strongly linked to BDNF deficiency, and many children with this condition are overweight. Exercise and intermittent fasting help improve their cognitive and behavioral symptoms.

  Indulgent lifestyles increase the risk of developing anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease—all connected to BDNF deficiency. Healthy weight ranges and fasting are associated with alleviation of symptoms in diagnosed patients.

  In several clinical studies, intermittent fasting was found to be a safe and effective intervention for type 2 diabetes mellitus, with patients experiencing body weight and fasting blood glucose reduction. No acute mental changes associated with sugar fluctuations were reported in these studies.

Evidence is growing regarding the benefits and safety of intermittent fasting as a treatment for various disorders. It is one brain-boosting measure that is certainly worth a try.

Aside from the schedule, you also have to consider if intermittent fasting is safe for you. While dietary restriction benefits a lot of people, drastic caloric reduction may cause others to faint, feel dizzy or experience other side effects. If you have a medical condition, make sure to get clearance from your doctor or be under medical supervision before starting any fasting regimens.

Also, intermittent fasting should be done in moderation. Extremely long fasting periods lead to infections, vitamin deficiencies and other malnutrition-related illnesses.

Do Brain Supplements and Fasting Go Together?

 

“Brain supplements and intermittent fasting go together very well.”

 

Remember how excessive autophagy can be unhealthy for the brain and that BDNF can regulate it? The ability of brain supplements to induce BDNF secretion makes them powerful autophagy modulators. Taking brain supplements like Brain Assist helps you maximize the BDNF-enhancing power of intermittent fasting. Together, they make sure that you stay razor-sharp for a very long time.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting impacts overall health and mental function. Its beneficial effects on the brain are mediated by BDNF, a promoter of neuronal resilience and growth. The fasting period’s duration is crucial to this molecule's secretion, as it is stimulated by glucose depletion and significant ketone formation. Once released, it suppresses autophagy, letting the brain keep stress-adaptive changes in critical regions.

To maximize its benefits, intermittent fasting is best combined with the intake of brain supplements. Particularly important nutrients are alpha-glycerophosphocholine, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, trans-resveratrol, uridine, and vitamin C—all potent BDNF inducers, and thus, autophagy modulators. Doctor-formulated Brain Assist, which can go with any fasting schedule, has all these ingredients to let you stay mentally focused and fight off brain aging.

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