The fairly well known expression, “a healthy body is a healthy mind”, implies that one’s physical health can have an impact on one’s mental well-being. This saying is actually derived from a work by Roman Poet, Juvenal based on the latin adage “Mens sana in corpore sano”. This phrase is often translated as “a sound mind in a sound body”, which can be interpreted in another way- that to be truly healthy, one would strive for both physical and mental health.
Just as nutrients in food can help support the physical body (e.g. muscles, joints, skin), they can also help support a healthy brain function. Dogs, like humans, can experience a degradation in brain function as they age. Senior dogs can develop dementia and other brain ailments that diminish their overall quality of life. One way to minimize this is by making sure that your dog is fed a diet that contains the nutrients that are linked to optimal brain health.
Nutrients for a Healthy Brain
Some of the many nutrients that can improve brain health are listed below.
Omega 3 fatty acids. As if we need another reason to include foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids, there is a linkage between diets high in Omega 3’s and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Omega 3’s have also been used as treatment for mood disorders.
Foods commonly found in dog food that are high in Omega 3’s include salmon and other fatty fish, as well as flax and krill.
Vitamins C and E. The antioxidants in these vitamins help protect the brain from free radical damage. A 2007 study showed that diets high in antioxidants could help delay cognitive decline in elderly humans.
Foods that are often included in dog food recipes that are high in antioxidants include berries, fruits, and leafy green and cruciferous vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli.
Curcumin. Curumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, has been shown in some studies to slow decay in brain function in rodents.
B-Vitamins, including B-6 and B-12. Vitamin B-6 helps form neurotransmitters and is involved with brain development. Vitamin B-12 essential for brain and nerve function and for forming red blood cells and DNA. Studies have reported that supplementation with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 has positive effects on memory performance in women.
Foods that are commonly found in dog food that are high in the B vitamins include most meats, and sea foods for B-6 and B-12 and chickpeas and spinach for B-6.
Luteolin. Luteolin is a plant compound that my help tame inflammation in the brain. Rodney Johnson at the University of Illinois found that the flavonoid luteolin helped reduce inflammation in the brains of aged mice, which restored memory to levels observed in younger animals.
Luteolin is found in celery, carrots, peppers and rosemary.