KEY BRAIN-BOOSTING NUTRIENTS
Protein is made up of building blocks – like LEGO pieces – that help to power the chemical messengers in our brains. These are called neurotransmitters and they play a role in how we think and how happy we feel, as well as how we sleep. Having some protein with each meal and snack can help keep us feeling happy and full of beans. Good sources of protein are meat, fish, tofu, eggs, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. What are your favourites?
There is a family of eight B vitamins, all playing a role in energy and supporting our brains. Each has a slightly different job. B vitamins act as energy superheroes in our bodies. We can get B vitamins from red meat, chicken, fish, lentils, beans, brown rice, milk, cheese, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, broccoli, spinach and bananas.
A whopping 80% of our brains are made of fat, so we need good fats to help our brains work well. These are called essential fatty acids (EFAs, which are essential as they cannot be made by our body) and we can get these from oily fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines, eggs, nuts and seeds. Try to eat at least two portions of these foods a week to keep your brain healthy.
MINERAL SPARK PLUGS
Minerals help to keep the many, many different processes in the body working properly, from helping our muscles to relax to sparking our brains into gear. They work alongside the B vitamins as a team. There is some evidence that suggests magnesium can help us to worry less and relax more.
There is also an information highway between our tummies and our brain, and back the other way from our brains to our tummies. This is controlled by the vagus nerve. When we are nervous or excited we can feel butterflies in our tummy, which is a sign that our brains and tummies are communicating. How and what we eat can help us to feel less nervous and cope with challenges more easily. Happy tummies = happy brains.