Are You Eating The Right Foods For Proper Brain Function?

Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor
Detox Specialist

“You are what you eat… and so is your brain!"

Your brain is always running 24/7, thus it requires a constant supply of fuel. The fuel and nutrients that it needs comes from the foods that you eat, which means that your diet has a huge impact on how your brain works.

How Does Food Affect The Brain?

The foods that we eat can affect our brain function, our mood, our memory, and even out intellectual capacity.

For your brain to be able to do its job, it needs the right nutrients, especially essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and phospholipids.

On the flip side, eating low-quality foods may have a detrimental effect on our overall brain function. That is why being mindful of how we feed our brain is very important.

Your Food And Emotions

There is a very close relationship between your brain and your “second brain” – the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This has something to do with your emotions and the foods that you consume. The GI tract holds trillions of bacteria and microscopic organisms that play a significant role in modulating the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is also known as the “happy chemical”.

When we eat healthily, it is more likely for the “good” bacteria to thrive. This, in turn, can have a positive effect on our mood regulation. On the other hand, eating junk food such as fries and high-fat, high-sugar items may promote the growth of “bad” bacteria and interfere with serotonin production. But when your neurotransmitter production is good, your brain may be able to receive positive and clear messages and your mood will reflect this.

This is why a healthy diet is important. If you don’t stick to a healthy one, you may make yourself prone to mood fluctuations.

Foods Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can provide many benefits. While Omega 3s are a big family of different kinds of fatty acids, your brain primarily uses two types of Omega 3: DHA and EPA.

Both DHA and EPA are commonly found in non-vegan, animal foods:

• Salmon
• Egg yolks (the yellow part)
• Milk
• Cheese
• Sardines
• Herring
• Oysters
• Fresh tuna (not canned)
• Fish oil

Except for microalgae, vegan foods do not provide the DHA and EPA that your brain needs. However, the body can make them by converting ALA from the following plant-based foods:

• Walnuts
• Chia seeds
• Flaxseeds
• Shelled hemp seeds
• Algae
• Sunflower seeds

… and many more.

Research has consistently shown that Omega 3s, in particular DHA and EPA, can help improve learning and memory, and also reduce the risk of dementia, depression, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. This is due to the support that Omega 3 provides to synaptic plasticity, having a positive effect on how the brain operates.

Studies of children have also demonstrated that those who increased their intake of Omega 3s did better in school – and not just with reading and spelling, but also with fewer behavioral problems.

Getting your Omega 3s from the foods that you eat is ideal, because of the additional nutrients that come with them. However, for those with an Omega 3 deficiency in their diets, fish oil supplements can indeed be helpful. If you opt for an Omega 3 supplement, be sure that it states in the label that it is mercury-free.

The Worst Foods For The Brain

Keeping our brain working optimally is a goal that many of us have, and one of the best ways to do so is by avoiding eating these foods:

• Sugary drinks (such as soda, fruit juices, and energy drinks)
• Refined carbs (such as white bread, muffins, and cookies)
• Foods high in trans fats or damaged fats (such as fries or chicken nuggets)
• High-sugar, high-fat processed foods (such as commercial sauces)
• Alcohol

Eating Right For Proper Brain Function

In order to plan a diet that is good for the brain, educating yourself on the latest science is the first step. Learning personalization strategies from our certification courses can also help you in setting a nutritional program that is tailored to your needs.

Besides eating right, getting quality sleep, sufficient exercise, and some relaxation time every day may also help boost your overall brain function.

In A Nutshell

There are many nutrients that may help protect the brain and reduce the risk of mental disorders. Some of the most notable effects have been observed from DHA and EPA, the two types of Omega 3 that the brain uses. Incorporating foods that are rich in these is important, and so is reducing the consumption of foods that have a detrimental effect, such as fried foods.

Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor
Detox Specialist

What If You Don’t Go To University

It’s August, which means it’s that time of the year again: A Level Results Day.

And whether it’s your friends or your grandma, there’s one question on everyone’s lips…

Are you going to university?

You might be heading back from college to the tune of ‘Did you get the grades?’

Or maybe you never wanted to go to uni in the first place.

Whichever boat you’re in; what happens when your friends are prepping for freshers’ week, but you’re not?

No fear – we’re here to help! The first thing you need to consider is:

Are you sure about your decision?

It’s difficult to aim for your goals if you don’t know what they are, or how to reach them. This means that if you have a particular career in mind, you might want to see a careers advisor or thoroughly research alternative routes into the field you’re passionate about before making a final decision.

But then what? Well, first, it’s important to know…

There are a ton of careers that don’t require a university degree

It’s true! You may have considered some of these options: hairdressing, beauty, personal training.

But those aren’t the only choices – many careers have a variety of pathways into them, from accountancy, to journalism, to nutritional therapy.

Read on to see what you can do instead of going to university:

Take a Gap Year

Fondly known as the ‘gap yah’ among millennials, many teens take a year out to decide what they want to do before continuing their education. This often takes the form of travelling, learning a language, and gaining lots of experience of different cultures – but it can also involve volunteering in a mix of industries to help you make a more informed decision about your future. While this kind of break provides a temporary solution, it’s common for people to head back to school once they complete their gap year, but many teens also open doors to careers they never knew existed!

(Pssst… Looking for the latest work experience opportunities? GoThinkBig is a good place to start).

Find an Apprenticeship

Becoming an apprentice is a great way to get straight into work AND gain a qualification while you earn. From farming, to hospitality, to law, you can choose your apprenticeship from a huge selection of fields and levels, from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) right through to Level 6/7 (degree equivalent). Depending on the level, an apprenticeship can take between 1 and 5 years to complete, but you’ll be learning loads of job-specific skills along the way.

If you’re in the UK, you can click here to find an apprenticeship.

Get an Entry-Level Job

While a large number of entry-level jobs will attract applications from students and recent graduates, many employers offer roles aimed at school-leavers – including training schemes. The obvious benefit of heading straight into work is that you’ll be earning right away.

A great way to find entry-level jobs is to keep an eye on websites that advertise vacancies in specific fields. Mediargh is a great example for media-related careers (publishing, science – whatever).

Become an Entrepreneur

Ever wanted to start your own business? Now might be your chance! This can be an exciting option for those not looking to go to university, but it’s wise to first consider the funding, support, and advice you’ll need along the way. If you’re in the UK, check out these government guidelines for new businesses.

For an extra boost when it comes to marketing your business effectively, check out Google’s Digital Garage for free digital marketing training.

Study for an Online Diploma

A huge barrier for many prospective students is the possibility of getting in over £50,000 of debt for a qualification in an area they’re not entirely sure about, or wasn’t necessary for their preferred career.

Whether you’re looking to boost your entrepreneurial endeavours, or you want to get a feel for a subject before jumping into a degree, an online diploma can be a great way to go! Loads of platforms offer you the chance to study via the web and many don’t require specialist technology, so you can get going with just a laptop and a cup of tea.

If it’s nutrition you’re into, we at The Health Sciences Academy® have a whole host of certifications and short courses for you to explore.

Nutrition not your thing? Not to worry – there are loads of other great providers out there. Check out Coursera and Lynda for an array of online courses on a variety of subjects.

They’re called options for a reason…

It’s important to remember that choosing to not go to university isn’t something that sets your career in a permanent direction. You may try one of the above and decide you want to go to uni after all! Perhaps you want some work experience, maybe you’re looking to boost your know-how before embarking on a degree, or you might even decide to do both an online course and an apprenticeship – the point is: the sky’s the limit.

What you’re doing this September doesn’t necessarily define the rest of your life, but it CAN boost it. Do what’s best for you and remember: it’s quite natural to need a little bit of extra time to work out where you want your career to go.

The Health Sciences Academy® is the UK’s largest online educator in nutrition science.

We are home to a variety of Level 5 online diplomas, in addition to a range of accredited short courses in nutrition topics – ready to help you ignite your career.

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