Alaskan wild-caught salmon & blueberries…. ‘common’ foods which turn up, time and time again, when we search the internet for help on brain nourishment are not spectacularly helpful if you live in Asia, New Zealand or West Africa. Nor if you are on a budget.
“Charlie has had a pretty bad stroke and is currently in ICU. The food as you know is shite and they are not proficient at feeding properly. Trying to find things I can buy or easily make to give him. He is on soup and soft foods. Particularly interested in any local wisdom I may not be aware of. “
And so began my Thai day yesterday, and the impetus for this post.
The fear of dementia is real, and I have many friends in their 50s, 60s and 70s slugging down expensive supplements in the hope of enjoying, and remaining lucid, through their latter years, rather than being a burden. High quality supplements are hard to find in Thailand, and supplements generally are poorly absorbed anyway and far less bio-available than whole, natural foods. So if you’re here in Asia, or elsewhere in the world where wild-caught Alaskan salmon and blueberries are expensive luxuries, what could and should you be eating to nourish the brain or to support neurogenesis after a brain injury?
Gotu Kola – ใบบัวบก (transliterates as Bai Bua Bok) – Indian Pennywort
Clinical studies show Gotu Kola boosts memory function after stroke, improves learning and memory, enhances memory and nerve function and protects the cells from forming the plaque associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
How to use-eat-buy? In Chiang Mai, the easiest, by far, is to zip by Khun Kae’s Juice Bar in Moon Muang Soi 7 and slug down a shot of pure, fresh Gotu Kola juice. She’s open daily. It’s quite palatable, cheap and oh-so-very bio-available. Gotu Kola is one of the standard 3 juice shots I have there, whenever I can. Not in Chiang Mai? Every Asian fresh market through the rainy season has fresh Bai Bua Bok, uber cheap, most mornings. Or you can find it growing wild in waterways and khongs. Use it to make a delicious, spicy Asian “Yum” (salad). Failing that, and if you must revert to capsules, they are readily available and cheap in most good Asian pharmacies.
Organic Black Rice
The industrial-level anti-oxidants (called anthocyanins) in Black Rice significantly improve brain function, improving learning and memory and reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. The MIND diet study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, defines 10 brain healthy food groups and 5 unhealthy ones. When participants followed the MIND diet closely, their Alzheimer’s risk was reduced by as much as 53%. Black rice is an important inclusion in the MIND diet – you can read more about that Here. The anthocyanins in organic black rice help to retain & build neural pathways, and help to heal brain function after brain injury.
Studies show the antioxidant properties of moringa might play a pivotal role in the treatment of cognitive disorders. How to eat-use-buy easily? Fresh is ALWAYS preferred. Find a moringa tree and add some fresh leaves to your soup or stir fry after the heat has been switched off. Moringa powder is readily available in Asian health stores – add a tablespoon to a fruit smoothie. The taste is pleasant and it’s something we enjoy in our house, every day. Worst case scenario? yes, you can buy capsules of moringa powder fairly easily.
Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Studies show that the regular ingestion of pure, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil has a substantial effect on brain health, particularly in the areas of orientation, language-building, fixing, calculation-concentration and memory. How much to take? 2-3 tablespoons per day. Drizzle it over your salad, add it to a super-fruit-smoothie or just slug it down as a shot. No, cooking with it doesn’t count as heating it destroys much of it’s healing properties.
Traditionally used in Chinese and Asian herbal medicine, studies show Gingko Biloba improves circulatory function in the brain, improves learning outcomes and improves memory function. Generally, Gingko Biloba extract improves the brains processing of tasks. Where to buy-use-eat? In Chiang Mai, Dr Wang’s Chinese Dispensary in Chiang Moi has high quality, therapeutic grade capsules, very affordably.
Curcumin – a phytochemcial found in the brightly yellow coloured fresh turmeric root – is a profoundly anti-inflammatory agent and has been shown to give significant improvement in brain function. Clinical studies found that scans performed pre- and post-treatment suggested that behavioral and cognitive benefits are associated with decreases in plaque and tangle accumulation in brain regions modulating mood and memory. Turmeric is best ingested fresh. Again, a daily turmeric-lime shot at Khun Kae’s Juice Bar in Chiang Mai is my personal preference: fresh, no molds, a serious flavour-wake-up hit and immediately bio-available. Failing that, high quality capsules can be purchased reasonably at good health food stores and pharmacies. In Chiang Mai, my preference is always Dr Wang’s Chinese Dispensary in Chiang Moi.
Whether you are protecting and actively nourishing your brain for study or against potential dementia, or whether you are actively healing from stroke or brain injury, it matters not; there are many healthy, natural, easily available, affordable and clinically proven herbs and foods which will improve cognitive function, memory, increase learning outcomes and nourish the brain. Expensive, imported Alaskan salmon and blueberries are not required.
Food Is Medicine.
Prepare and Share it with Love & Gratitude.