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Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System - Slideshow

Last Updated on Mar 31, 2018
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, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
The nervous system is a network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and fro from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body. The nervous system plays a vital role in breathing, digestion, regulating temperature and controlling movement. Poor nerve health can result in pain or loss of muscle control. Since the nervous system performs vital functions, it is important to strengthen the nerves for a healthy life. A healthy diet containing lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains can help strengthen the nerves. Here are some of the foods that support a healthy nervous system.

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Spinach, kale and chard are some of the dark green leafy vegetables that contain nutrients like magnesium, copper, folate and calcium. Copper is essential for the production of neurotransmitters. It prevents spinal cord degeneration and progressive failure of nerve function. Magnesium helps carry oxygen to the muscles, nerves and also calms the nerves. Vitamins like B, C and E present in leafy vegetables boost neurotransmitter function and slows down the aging of the brain and nervous system.


Fish, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout help protect the nerves. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the two types of omega-3 fatty acids that keep the nervous system healthy by maintaining nerve cell membranes. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help repair and maintain the neural circuits that are important for learning, memory and locomotion. In general, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish offer a great neuroprotective potential to help counteract the effects of neurologic injuries.


Turmeric, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Turmeric is a spice known for its traditional culinary and medicinal use in India. It contains a polyphenol compound called curcumin, which has been shown to benefit the brain by providing protection, and through multiple mechanisms against neurological disorders. Curcumin acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-amyloidal agent to improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Studies have shown that curcumin helps enhance the growth of new cells in the hippocampus and other areas of the brain. Curcumin plays a crucial role in learning, improving memory and mood. Turmeric can be added to different foods and even to smoothies and milk.


Nuts, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral for a healthy nervous system. Magnesium aids in the body's production of serotonin, which relaxes the nervous system and elevates mood. Magnesium deficiency can affect the neurotransmitters that support signal transmission between nerve cells. Thus, foods rich in magnesium like nuts should be included in the diet to improve nerve health. Vitamin B1 (thiamin) found in nuts play a role in healthy nerve and brain function. Thiamin deficiency can interfere with the production of certain neurotransmitter amino acids, such as glutamate and aspartate. Nuts rich in vitamin B1 are macadamia nuts, pecans and Brazil nuts.


Liver, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
A diet deficient in vitamin B12 can cause problems with the myelin and affect the functioning of the nervous system, resulting in a degenerative disorder of the spinal cord. Nerve damage occurs when the myelin sheath that protects the nerve deteriorates. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in maintaining the myelin sheath. Foods rich in vitamin B12 such as liver can help heal damaged nerves. Other sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. Green leafy vegetables are not a good source of vitamin B12. Hence, some breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B12 can be included in the vegetarian's diet.

Green Tea

Green Tea, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Green tea contains catechins such as epigallocatechin-gallate, epigallocatechin, epicatechin, and epicatechin-3-gallate. These compounds can help reduce cognitive deterioration in aging. Studies have shown that long-term consumption of green tea has the potential to reverse the degenerative effects of aging in the brain. Green tea has a positive impact on the nervous system due to the presence of an amino acid called L-theanine. It helps increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin and induces a state of alert relaxation.


Berries, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries contain plant compounds called flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant properties. Flavonoids have a positive effect on cognition and are crucial for the treatment of brain diseases and brain injury. Nerve damage occurs when free radicals interact with cell tissues and cause deterioration of the cells. Berries are rich in antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and heal damaged nerves. Acai berries can prevent nerve cell damage by turning off the inflammatory pathways, as they contain anthocyanins like cyanidin, malvidin and delphinidin.

Dark Chocolates

Dark Chocolates, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Dark chocolates contain phenolic compounds like catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins that exhibit antioxidant activity. These antioxidants can protect the nerves from injury and inflammation. Dark chocolates also contain higher amounts of theobromine, a compound that is known to prevent age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Other functions of dark chocolate include, improving blood flow to the brain and reducing inflammation. Flavonoid in chocolates is associated with improved thinking skills in older adults.


Oatmeal, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Oatmeal is known as a replenishing medicine for the nervous system. It helps soothe the symptoms of insomnia, stress and anxiety; and is known as the antidote to nervous exhaustion. Oats contain B vitamins that help stabilize the mood. Avinine is a nervine alkaloid found in oats, which is a long-term restorative of the nervous system. Herbalists have prescribed oats to treat a wide range of nervous conditions as it nourishes and strengthens the over-stressed nervous system. Oats contain other vital nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium that soothe the nerves and help maintain healthy nervous system.


Rosemary, Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Nervous System
Rosemary, a widely used herb has been used as a medicinal plant for years to treat ailments of the nervous system. Carnosic acid, found in rosemary, protects the brain cells from free radical damage, lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease. Rosemary contains another compound called rosmarinic acid, which exhibits neuroprotective effects and reduces inflammation of the nerves. Rosemary essential oil can be used to treat neuropathy, which includes nerve problems like nerve pain, tingling, weakness and numbness.

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