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Foods That Heal the Brain

author image Jaime Stathis
Jaime Stathis has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has appeared on LIVESTRONG, eHow and among others. She received a Bachelor of Arts in writing and rhetoric from William Smith College in 1996. She is working toward her Master of Fine Arts in creative non-fiction at the University of Montana.
Foods That Heal the Brain
Roasted beet and walnut tartlets on a tea towel. Photo Credit: nata_vkusidey/iStock/Getty Images

Many disorders of the brain—Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, Parkinson’s disease, mood swings and cognitive disorders—can be treated with proper nutrition. Dr. Hyman, founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, believes that healing the brain with food is so effective that psychiatric treatment and medication will become a thing of the past.

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McLean Hospital researchers have confirmed that foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts) and uridine (sugar beets and molasses) have antidepressant effects and can be used alone or together. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressive disorders affect 10 percent of the adult population in the United States and that number is set to rise as our bodies become increasingly stressed by environmental toxins.


Eating protein, high-quality grains and vegetables at every meal will help with anxiety. Small (4 oz.) servings of protein at every meal, preferably five or six small meals a day, will keep insulin stable, energy levels high and enable the neurons to fire properly. The carbohydrates from vegetables and whole grains help the brain to manufacture serotonin, which regulates the mood, sleep cycles and the ability to both concentrate and relax. Selenium is a mineral that is found in green leafy vegetables, eggs, whole grains, tuna and asparagus. A selenium deficit can create feelings of anxiety due to improper neurotransmitter function. Eating a balanced diet of organic meats, vegetables and grains products that is full of variety is a simple way to ensure that your brain will be nourished and, as a result, happy and healthy.


Dr. Tim Johnson (ABC News) is one of many doctors that recognize the connection between cholesterol levels and brain health as it relates specifically to memory. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol, reduces risk of heart attacks and stroke, which both damage the brain and the memory. It also assists nerve-cell synapses and discourages the formation of beta-amyloid, a plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Good food sources of HDL are olive oil, ground flaxseeds, soy products, walnuts and green leafy vegetables.

Foods to Avoid

The following foods and additives do not encourage health brain functioning and may even cause brain damage. Consume minimally, if at all: high-fructose corn syrup, trans or hydrogenated fats, sugar and artificial sweeteners, alcohol, tobacco, processed foods, MSG, fast foods, organ meats and large predatory fish that contain mercury.

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