The George Mateljan Foundation is a non-profit organization free of commercial influence, which provides this website for you free of charge. Our purpose is to provide you with unbiased scientific information about how nutrient-rich World's Healthiest Foods can promote vibrant health and energy and fit your personal needs and busy lifestyle.

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What foods can strengthen the nervous system?

While we do have some suggestions about food choices that can help support nervous system activity, we also want to point out that no amount of supportive food can completely offset a lifestyle that features high levels of stress or lack of good sleep, two factors that can affect the nervous system. Working on stress reduction and sleep improvement through other strategies besides dietary interventions are critical steps to be taken for those who experience challenges in these areas.

It's also important to keep in mind that our bodies work as a whole, not as isolated piece parts. As convenient as it is to talk about foods that support the nervous system or foods that support the cardiovascular system, the more lasting way to support health is by supporting all body systems through a meal plan that takes into account not only the nervous system, but the way that the nervous system interacts with the endocrine system and immune system and other body tissue. A balanced plant-based whole foods diet is the best way we know of to accomplish that goal.

The structure of the nervous system is unique in terms of many nutrients. Many of the nerves are wrapped in sheaths called myelin sheaths. Omega-3 fatty acids-especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)-are particularly important in the sheath structures surrounding many nerves. Wild-caught cold-water fish (like salmon), seeds (like pumpkin seeds or flaxseeds), nuts (like walnuts), and some oils (like canola oils) are important food sources of omega-3 fatty acids. You'll find a fairly detailed review of omega-3 fatty acids in our website's Essential Nutrients section.

Activity in the nerves is often carried out with special messaging molecules (neurotransmitters). In some cases, these molecules are simple amino acids or derivatives of amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein. For this reason, optimal protein intake and balanced intake of the amino acids within protein can be very helpful in support of the nervous system. You'll also find a fairly detailed review of protein in our website's Essential Nutrients section.

In order for the nervous system to synthesize and circulate neurotransmitters, B complex vitamins are particularly important. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid could also be singled out as especially important in nerve metabolism. Green leafy vegetables are especially rich sources of many B vitamins. All B complex vitamins are profiled individually in the Essential Nutrients section of our website.

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