The ‘Big 5’ Brain-Boosting Nutrients a Neurologist Says Are Best for Staying Sharp as You Age

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The foods we eat every day certainly play a role in our cognitive functioning. Ever sleep in past your alarm in college and be forced to sprint to take a grueling exam on an empty stomach? Not fun. But as we get older, the connection between nutrition and brain health becomes more pronounced in several ways. For starters, because the brain declines naturally with age, our risk of cognitive decline and disorders (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s) increases as we get older. This is why it’s vital to make sure your meals are incorporating brain-boosting nutrients: They’ll help keep you sharp both today and in the long term.

“Medical professionals and physicians are more than familiar with the general—and natural—cognitive decline that is associated with aging, as the brain does not make new cells as we age,” says neuroscientist Sonja K. Billes, PhD, the founder of August Scientific and a member of the Science Advisory Team at Solaray. “Our brain cells, known as neurons, may not communicate as well later in life, too,” she adds. To caveat, this decline is completely natural for many—but it still may cause weakened neurological activity and response, which affects cognitive functioning, memory retention, concentration, and focus, Dr. Billes says.

How nutrition and brain health are linked

While there isn’t too much we can do to stop the natural decline in brain health due to age (which is due, in part, to damage from free radicals and oxidative stress, which are byproducts that come with the aging process), we can take some amount of legitimate preventative action by adjusting our daily routines—such as getting more sleep and managing stress—and eating more brain-friendly foods on a consistent basis. These lifestyle changes have been shown to result in better cognitive functioning (as well as decreased inflammation, a happier state of existence, a healthier heart, and so on) as we age.


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