Nahrung für das Gehirn (Supporting brain function, memory & thinking through nutrition)

Das moderne Leben belastet unser Gehirn mehr und mehr - ob permanentes "multi-tasking", Konzentration, Kommunikation -  wir sind einer Flut von Stimulationen aus allen möglichen Quellen ausgesetzt.


Umso wichtiger ist es, dass wir unser Gehirn in Topform halten. Eine normale Gehirnfunktion hängt von diversen miteinander verknüpften Faktoren ab, von denen viele durch Ernährung beeinflusst sein können. Neurotransmitter, Chemikalien, die unseren Nervenzellen helfen zu kommunizieren, wie Acetylcholin, Glutamat und Dopamin sind für Gedächtnis, Stimulation und Motivation erforderlich. Die Struktur der Nervenzellen selbst beruht auf Fettstoffen wie essentiellen Fetten und Phospholipiden für die Funktion der Zellmembranen, so dass sie als Reaktion auf Neurotransmitter effizient abgefeuert werden können. 


Lifestyle Faktoren spielen ebenfalls eine Schlüsselrolle. Stress wurde als ein Faktor für den kognitiven Verfall identifiziert, während die Aufrechterhaltung eines sozialen Lebens und körperlicher Aktivität mit fortgesetzter kognitiver Gesundheit verbunden ist.

Read full article in english! (Die folgende Zusammenfassung in englischer Sprache von unserem Partner BioCare gibt einige Tips und Hinweise, welche Massnahmen hinsichtlich Ernährung und mögliche zusätzliche Nährstoffen getroffen werden können um Ihr Gehirn und Nervenfunktion in jedem Alter besonders zu unterstützen)



Modern life is very taxing on our brains. We’re constantly required to multitask, remember things, concentrate, and communicate. We are submitted to a barrage of stimulation from all manner of sources, especially now with TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones. So it’s even more important that we keep our brains in top condition.


The most recently developed part of our brain, the cerebral cortex, plays a major part in memory and cognition. Its normal function is dependent on multiple interlinking factors, many of which may be influenced by nutritional factors. Neurotransmitters, chemicals that help our nerve cells communicate, such acetylcholine, glutamate and dopamine are required for memory, stimulation and motivation respectively. These chemicals require from raw nutritional ‘materials’ including choline, amino acids and B vitamins to be made. The structure of the nerve cells themselves relies on fatty substances like essential fats and phospholipids for the function of the cell membranes so they can be fired in response to neurotransmitters efficiently.Good blood circulation, along with good antioxidant status, are also vital to maintaining healthy brain structure and function.


Lifestyle factors also play a key role. Stress has been identified as a factor in cognitive decline, while anxiety levels have been linked to the progression of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. Maintaining a social life and staying physically active is associated with continued cognitive health, whereas social isolation and loneliness have been identified as risk factors for decline.


How can we protect our nerves?


Luckily there is plenty of potential to nourish our brains and offer it better protection and support. Let´s look at both key nutrients to include in your diet as well as broader lifestyle changes which can have a significant impact.


Key nutrients have a pivotal role in this, including:

  • Herbs like Rosemary have a significant benefit on cognitive function, showing a reduction in cognitive decline.[i] Sage improves performance, memory, reduced mental fatigue.[ii] [iii]

  • Phosphatidyl Serine is a major phospholipid forming nerve cell structure and supplementing it can improve cognitive decline[iv] and memory in Alzheimer’s Disease.[v]

  • The herb Ginkgo Biloba supports circulation to the brain and has been shown to enhance memory in elderly people[vi] and in Alzheimer’s.[vii]

  • Blackcurrant fruit can prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases and improve motor and cognitive functions.[viii] Blackcurrant increases attention, memory, cognitive flexibility, mood and mental fatigue).[ix]

  • Choline is central to acetylcholine production and nerve cell structure, so improving cognition.[x]

  • Folate and vitamin B12 support a process called methylation which is essential for making neurotransmitters.[xi] [xii] Vitamin B5 may be helpful as a precursor for the memory neurotransmitter acetylcholine.[xiii]

  • Magnesium,[xiv] vitamin B6, [xv] the amino acids taurine[xvi] and theanine,[xvii] herbs such as lemon balm[xviii] and chamomile,[xix] and probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus,[xx] can all promote the calming action of the neurotransmitter GABA and have been shown to improve stress and anxiety.

Lifestyle changes can also have a powerful impact:

  • A healthy balanced diet is essential for a nourished nervous system.

  • Increase daylight exposure by going for a gentle walk or even just sitting in the garden for a while. People with low levels of vitamin D have a 60% greater risk of experiencing substantial cognitive decline.[xxi]

  • Take part in daily exercise which shows direct benefits to long-term memory as well as indirect benefits to simple reaction time tests.[xxii]

  • Get enough sleep! Keep to a routine with a regular sleeping pattern (e.g. 10pm-7am per night), limit evening exposure to blue light/electronics, keep the bedroom as dark as possible.

  • Protect yourself from toxins in the environment, as they are capable of binding to and interfering with nerve cell membranes. Exposure to solvents,[xxiii] cigarette smoke,[xxiv] mercury[xxv] and lead,[xxvi] has been linked to MS, and mercury is associated with higher risk of neurodegenerative disorder (AD).[xxvii],[xxviii]

  • Top up your gut bacteria! Our gut microbiome has a profound impact on the nervous system as certain strains of live bacteria (Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria).[xxix] You can top up your levels through supplementation of live bacteria and eating probiotic rich foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and miso.

  • Don’t stress! Establishing the key stressors in your life and having some ‘downtime’ can be detrimental in increasing resilience to stress.[xxx]

  • Practicing mindful meditation and relaxing can really help. It is important to choose the relaxation technique which is meaningful to and sustainable for you to keep doing. Music has been shown to reduce cortisol in certain situations,[xxxi] as well as dancing[xxxii] and laughing.[xxxiii]

  • For those stressors that run deeper, such as long term grief or post-traumatic stress, seeking assistance such as counselling, life coaching, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be really helpful and supportive in the long run.

We’re totally dependent on our nervous system to link us to the outside world. By optimising our diet and lifestyle we can boost its function, resulting in healthier interactions and engagement with our environment, supporting our senses, thinking, planning and remembering.


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[ii] Kennedy DO, Dodd FL, Robertson BC, Okello EJ, Reay JL, Scholey AB, Haskell CF. Monoterpenoid extract of sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) with cholinesterase inhibiting properties improves cognitive performance and mood in healthy adults. J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Aug;25(8):1088-100.

[iii] Tildesley NT et al Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):669-74.

[iv] Crook. Phosphatidyl Serine in Alzheimers Disease.Psychopharmacol Bull. 1992; 28: 61-66.

[v] Zhang, Y.Y., Yang, L.Q., Guo, L.M., Effect of phosphatidyl serine on memory in patients and rats with Alzheimer’s disease. Genet. Mol. Res. 2015; 14 (3): 9325-33

[vi] Birks. Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002; (4).

[vii] Le Bars PL, Katz MM, Berman N, et al. A placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial of an extract of Ginkgo biloba for dementia. North American EGb Study Group. JAMA 1997;278:1327-32

[viii] Subash S, Essa MM, Al-Adawi S, et al. (2014) Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural Regen Res 9, 1557–1566.

[ix] Watson. Acute supplementation with blackcurrant extracts modulates cognitive functioning and inhibits monoamine oxidase-B in healthy young adults. Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 17, August 2015, Pages 524-539

[x] Lewis JE et al. “A double-blind, randomized clinical trial of dietary supplementation on cognitive and immune functioning in healthy older adults.“ BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Feb 4;14:43.

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[xiii] Rivera-Calimlim L Effects of ethanol and pantothenic acid on brain acetylcholine synthesis.Br J Pharmacol.1988 Sep;95(1):77-82.

[xiv] Held K et al. Oral Mg (2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002; 35(4):135-43.

[xv] Battaglioli G et al. Kinetic differences between the isoforms of glutamate decarboxylase: implications for the regulation of GABA synthesis. Journal of Neurochemistry. 2003; 86 (4): 879-887.

[xvi] Jia F et al. Taurine is a potent activator of extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptors in the thalamus. J Neurosci. 2008; 28(1): 106-15.

[xvii] Kakuda T et al. Inhibition of theanine of binding of [3H]AMPA, [3H]Kainate, and [3H]MDL 105, 519 to Glutamate receptors. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 2002; 66 (12): 2683-2686.

[xviii] Awad R, et al. Bioassay-guided fractionation of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L) using anin vitromeasure of GABA transaminase activity. Phytotherapy Research 2009; 23(8): 1075–8.

[xix] Awad R et al. Effects of traditionally used anxiolytic botanicals on enzymes of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007; 85 (9): 933-42.

[xx] Bravo et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behaviour and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2011; 108 (38): 16050-55.

[xxi] Llewellyn et al. Archives of internal medicine, 2010; 170 (13), 1135-41

[xxii] Cambridge centre for ageing and neuroscience

[xxiii] Riise et al. Organic Solvents and the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. Epidemiology. 2002; 13 (6): 718-20.

[xxiv] Handel et al. Smoking and Multiple Sclerosis: An Updated Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2011; 6 (1): e16149.

[xxv] Attar et al. Serum mercury level and multiple sclerosis. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012; 146 (2): 150-3

[xxvi] Napier et al. Heavy metals, organic solvents, and multiple sclerosis: an exploratory look at gene-environment interactions. Arch Environ Occup Health. 2016; 71 (1): 26-34

[xxvii] Sun YH, et al. Association between dental amalgam fillings and Alzheimer's disease: a population-based cross-sectional study in Taiwan. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2015 Nov 12;7(1):65.

[xxviii] Mutter J, et al. Does inorganic mercury play a role in Alzheimer's disease? A systematic review and an integrated molecular mechanism. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;22(2):357-74.

[xxix] Barrett E et al. γ-Aminobutyric acid production by culturable bacteria from the human intestine.J Appl Microbiol. 2012; 113 (2): 411-417

[xxx] Jabr F. Why your brain needs more downtime. Scientific American 2013. Accessed 27/12/ 2013:

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[xxxii] Quiroga MC et al. Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino: The Effects of Music and Partner. Music and Medicine. 2009; 1 (1): 14–21.

[xxxiii]Berk LS et al. Cortisol and Catecholamine stress hormone decrease is associated with the behavior of perceptual anticipation of mirthful laughter. The FASEB Journal. 2008; 22 (1): 946.11.

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