Nutrition Tips for Chemo Brain

Eating well has many benefits. It can help reduce the side effects of chemo brain but also can help improve heart health, gut health, decrease fatigue and is great for lifting your mood. The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20% of your body’s calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day, even more so when you are going through treatment. 

There are no established treatments for cognitive changes, but researchers are looking at possible treatments that could help. One way that may help you is by adding particular foods to your diet. Foods with iron, vitamin D and omega 3 are especially good for brain health. Eating healthy can make a huge difference on your overall health and help decrease side effects from treatment and improve your recovery progress. 

Omega-3
  • Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells.
  • They can improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.
Antioxidants
  • Protect the enzymes, fats and vitamins in the body, which help to delay or prevent certain types of damage to the cell. 
Vitamin B-2
  • Helps the brain and nerves communicate. 
Coenzyme Q10
  • Improve symptoms of chemo brain through its antioxidants properties. 
Choline
  • Though your liver can make small amounts, you must obtain the majority through your diet.
  • It impacts liver function, healthy brain development, muscle movement, your nervous system and metabolism.

 

Here are some foods you can try and add to your diet: 

Fish and seafood
  • Fish, especially salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines, are full of healthy fats that are essential for brain health.
  • There are many other nutrients that are beneficial to health that are available in fish, including protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, and potassium. 
Blueberries 
  • Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells.
  • These antioxidants may also delay brain ageing and improve memory.
  • Try sprinkling them on your breakfast cereal or adding them to a smoothie.

 

Turmeric
  • Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. 
  • This spice can boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow.
  • Try cooking with curry powder, adding turmeric to potato dishes or make turmeric tea.
Broccoli
  • Super high in vitamin K, antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • A few studies in older adults have linked a higher vitamin K intake to better memory. 
Nuts & Seeds
  • These foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, great for brain health. 
  • Rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
  • The nuts & seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include; sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts.
Kale 
  • Leafy greens, including kale, may support brain health.
  • Like broccoli, kale contains glucosinolates, and leafy greens also contain other key antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This is why many consider kale to be a superfood.
Whole Grains

Eating whole grains is a great way to benefit from the effects of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. 

Whole-grain foods include:

  • brown rice
  • barley
  • bulgur wheat
  • oatmeal
  • whole-grain bread
  • whole-grain pasta
Avocados
  • Avocados is a healthy unsaturated fat, which lowers high blood pressure. 
  • High blood pressure is linked to cognitive problems. 
Eggs 
  • Eggs offer a host of healthy nutrients.
  • Egg yolks are a good source of choline, which is associated with reducing inflammation and promoting brain function, like maintaining memory and communications between brain cells.
Soy Products 
  • Polyphenols also called isoflavones, include daidzein and genistein.
  • These chemicals act as antioxidants, providing a range of health benefits throughout the body.