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The Best Foods for Brain and Immune Health

By Pamela Wirth

Feeding the right food to your body support a healthy brain and immune system. What foods boost our mind and mood, and help keep our body healthy?  The old adages, “You are what you eat” and “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Eating a nutritious diet can make our brain healthy and support our body to fight against infections and environmental toxins. Let’s make a list and plan now for your next grocery trip.

healthy food

How Does Food Enhance Brain and Immune Health?

The relationship between nutrition, focus, and mood is not new. Most foods from nature contain crucial brain-boosting compounds such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Studies have found that nutrient deficiencies can contribute to dementia, anxiety, depression, and even schizophrenia.

Diets that avoid high levels of sugar and processed foods while adding in foods that are high in certain vitamins or minerals may support sleep, depression and anxiety through a healthier gut and better neurotransmitter production/support. There are also some foods with significant anti-inflammatory effects such as omega 3 fatty acids from fish and/or plant oils, which have been shown to be effective in supporting those with focus, mood and chronic fatigue symptoms. 

Best Superfoods For Brain and Immune Health

A healthy brain and immune system are essential for mental health. Additionally, a healthy diet is the foundation of a healthy gut, immune system and optimal brain health.

We’ve compiled a full list of the best foods that can help our brain and immune system function at their best or even aid in recovery from illness.

Citrus Fruits & Berries

Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit to name a few) have been known to be some of the healthiest fruits. They are a source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps our body fight against free radicals and oxidative stress.

Citrus fruit also contains a high level of vitamin A, which can help improve vision as well as keep skin healthy and young-looking. Additionally, citrus fruits are also rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and fiber. 

Oranges: Packed with vitamin A, oranges have a high concentration of immune-boosting nutrients. As an antioxidant supporting cell production, they help our body fight diseases and repair cells damaged by free radicals.  They are packed with all essential vitamins like vitamin C & K which boosts immunity. A high dose of Vitamin C helps in eye health, improved night vision, and is important for a healthy body.

Grapefruit: Grapefruit is another citrus fruit full of vitamin C. Grapefruit is so powerful that half of the grapefruit can source 60% of vitamin C we need daily. Along with vitamin C, it also provides iron to the body. It helps prime metabolism and is beneficial in weight loss.  

Blueberries: Among many kinds of berries, Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants.  Blueberries are rich in vitamin C and loaded with antioxidants that help the immune system stay strong and healthy.  In addition to blueberries, some berries (such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries) promote digestion along with preventing acidities produced by a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori. This can help support those with stomach cancer, ulcers, peptic ulcer disease, heartburn, and gastritis.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish such as Wild Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, or Sardines are rich with fatty acids omega 3 that are great for supporting inflammation, brain and immune health. These fatty acids can’t be made by our body, which means we have to obtain these fatty acids through a healthy diet. They are also rich in other important essential nutrients like DHA, EPA, and Vitamin K2. All of these nutrients support heart health as well as focus and energy levels. If you can’t add fatty fish to your diet, consider adding an algae or fish oil capsule that are rich in omega 3s to your diet.  

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables can help to boost brain power and improve the immune health system. A diet rich in vegetables, which is low carb and high fiber, helps to improve cognitive function as well as offer protective antioxidants and phytonutrients. Vegetables such as salads, steamed veggies, green peppers, broccoli can absorb enough nutrients from other foods to make a meal especially rich in vitamins & minerals.

Broccoli: Broccoli is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E and minerals as well as antioxidants and fiber. The best form of broccoli, if not raw, is steamed, as it contains more nutrients when it is not overcooked.

Spinach: Spinach is rich in vitamin C and also packed with beta carotene and antioxidants, both can increase infection-fighting ability. To enjoy the healthiest spinach and retain all its nutrients, do not overcook it.

Lettuce: Lettuce is made up of Vitamin K, C, and E. Lettuce also helps to improve our vision through the beta carotene that can produce a powerful immune system increasing our resistance in dealing with infections.

Spices & Condiments

There are many health benefits of spices and herbs for the mind. These may be linked to aromas or tastes in our mouths. 

Ginger: Ginger is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has compounds like beta carotene and capsaicin that support the immune system. It is beneficial to treat heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. 

Garlic: Garlic also has many health benefits. It is mostly known as a medicinal plant with many benefits for humans. It has great antiseptic and anti-festering properties that can reduce infection, and ward off colds. It has an antibacterial substance called allicin (vitamin e) which helps our body fight against any infections that bad bacteria may cause to the body.  This form has been shown to increase blood flow which makes it easier to remove metabolic waste products from the brain when you breathe out. 

Turmeric: Turmeric is a versatile ingredient that is rich in antioxidants, and curcumin that can boost our brainpower, keep a good mood, and reduce inflammation and pain. Turmeric also boosts memory recall levels during exercise, which means we have to stay fit as well as try to experiment with new things at play.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are considered one of the best sources of protein which is essential for brain development. These foods have a beneficial effect on the human brain in order to keep an optimized state and rapid growth. The Mediterranean diet recommends consuming many nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, and walnuts, which give us energy and better brain function. Many nuts like pecans supply almost 30% of daily needs for the omega 3 fatty acids that help to optimize neuronal health in our brains.

Peanuts: Peanuts provide essential amino acids that support brain function. Peanuts provide a lot of antioxidants, in particular, selenium. They can act as scavengers and protect our cells from damage by free radicals, which are the toxins that lead to inflammation and brain disease. 

Walnuts: Walnuts are known as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which support people with ADHD, ADD or mood disorders.

Flax seeds: Flax seeds can be another food used in the daily diet, with a unique kind of fiber called lignans, which considerably help fight against mental decline. These seeds can also contribute to healthy digestive health. Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation of the brain's white matter and enhance neurological function.

Beans and Whole Grains

Beans and whole-grain foods support brain health. 

Beans: Beans can be a good source of protein, which helps our body to increase the number of new cells. Beans are versatile, inexpensive and the ultimate brain-friendly food. It fuels the brain (Glucose), includes antioxidants, magnesium, fiber, zinc, and folate. Folate is essential for the brain, it can reduce neurological disorders like depression. Beans also contain taurine which is an amino acid that functions in ensuring concentration, memory control, and visual clarity, especially for brain function. 

Brown rice: Brown rice is a low sugar option, it is an excellent source of fiber and contains gentle starches in the form of arginine which may help prevent brain shrinkage. Fiber helps push food through your body by absorbing water. This can be especially important when eating a low-carb diet as our brain has more needs for water and nutrients than does the rest of our body due to its density.

Barley: Barley is an excellent source of fiber, which helps your whole body function better by replenishing the environment in our digestive system. Nutritionists often cite barley as a great food choice for those with mental disorders, and recently many studies have found that barley interacts with brain chemicals associated with depression.

Oatmeal: Oats are packed with fiber and carbohydrates. The soluble fibers in oats (and other types of cereal) feed the good bacteria in our digestive tract, improving overall gut health and calming inflammation by dampening chronic stress. This improves sensitivity to insulin in the brain and promotes healthy blood sugar levels. Having oatmeal every day protects us against age-related memory loss and may even help ward off mental decline.

Tips For Better Brain and Immunity System

If you can’t get nutrient rich foods into your diet, consider adding supplements that fit your needs.

 

Conclusion

 Food has immense benefits beyond the appearance they give. It takes planning and work to eat right.  Take the time to shop and plan meals that are best for you and your family.