In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week (13th – 19th May) and the launch of Alzheimer’s Prevention Day (15th May), Charlee Singleton dives into the complex category that is brain health.

“We are experiencing a mental health meltdown.” Patrick Holford, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Food for the Brain Foundation, and author, tells a packed audience at his Natural & Organic Products Expo 2024 seminar session. “Of all the disability years that are attributed to neurological diseases, which includes everything from Autism to Alzheimer’s, it is affecting 3.4 billion people, 43% of the world’s population.”

This was just one of the many shocking statistics shared in Holford’s Sunday seminar session, ‘The Four Horsemen of the Mental Health Apocalypse’, which discussed the catastrophic decline in mental health that has occurred over the past 50 years, making brain conditions a global health emergency.

With more and more studies revealing just how important nutrition is to cognitive health for all ages, a healthy diet and multivitamin supplementation can help us stay sharp, feel more energised and even prevent neurodegenerative diseases. As Holford stated: “If you get nutrition right for your brain, you get it right for the rest of your body.”

The Diet Link

The relationship between dietary choices and brain health is increasingly recognised as a vital factor of cognitive function and overall well-being. The latest study published in Nature Mental Health, led by researchers at the University of Warwick, reveals a profound link between dietary choices and brain health.

Analysing dietary data and health indicators from 181,990 UK Biobank participants, the research found that individuals with a varied, nutritious diet exhibited better mental health, enhanced cognitive functions, and increased grey matter – a key indicator of intelligence.

Lead Author Professor Jianfeng Feng, University of Warwick, emphasised the importance of cultivating healthy food habits early in life, stating it to be “crucial for healthy growth.” He said: “To foster the development of a healthy balanced diet, both families and schools should offer a diverse range of nutritious meals and cultivate an environment that supports their physical and mental health.”

“If you get nutrition right for your brain, you get it right for the rest of your body.”

In his seminar, Holford named a lack of brain fats as the first biological driver of the mental health crisis, with Omega-3 lacking the most. He discussed how Omega-3 levels have been linked to the volume density of the brain, with higher levels shown to improve cognitive function, including improving depression symptoms by 28% and reducing the risk of dementia by 20%.

Diets that are high in Omega-3 intake tend to be fish or seafood based, as brain fats are abundant in oily fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, Herrings and Sardines. The Omega-3 index, which is a measure of the amount of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in red blood cell membranes, found that the Japanese have a desirable score of 10% primarily due to their fish heavy diets. In contrast, Americans have a score of 4%. The healthy brain zone area, with a lower risk of dementia, is 8%. This can be achieved by upping your Omega-3 intake through supplementation, as well as aiming to eat oily fish three times per week.

The Gut Brain Axis

The gut and brain are connected via a network of millions of nerves known as the enteric nervous system (which includes the infamous vagus nerve). This is the superhighway of the body, carrying information between the brain and various organs, including the gut.

What occurs in the brain can influence your gut and vice versa. When we experience stress, the brain activates the sympathetic nervous system in preparation for the fight-or-flight response, triggering the release of cortisol to heighten alertness and readiness. However, this stress response can also impact the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as abdominal discomfort or irregular bowel movements.

Research suggests that calming techniques like breathing exercises and cognitive behavioural therapy can improve digestive symptoms. Dietary factors also significantly impact the diversity of gut bacteria, with fibre-rich foods, fermented foods, and prebiotics fostering a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn can influence mood, cognition, and stress responses. Adopting a balanced diet that nourishes both the brain and the gut, such as the Mediterranean diet or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, may offer holistic benefits for mental well-being and cognitive health.

Creatine for Cognitive Function

Creatine supplementation has garnered increasing attention for its potential benefits on brain health and cognitive function. While traditionally associated with muscle mass and performance in young healthy individuals, creatine is also found in the brain, and there is growing interest in its potential applications for brain health across diverse populations.

Research suggests that supplementing with creatine can increase brain levels of phosphocreatine, a crucial energy source for neuronal activity, particularly during tasks requiring cognitive effort. Creatine supplementation has also been linked to improvements in memory, attention, and executive function in various populations, including vegetarians and older adults, although further research is needed to determine the long-term effects on brain function and health.

Courtesy: Alzheimer’s Prevention Day / Food For The Brain Foundation


Alzheimer’s Prevention Day

As well as aiding in mental health conditions, a healthy, balanced diet can also help with the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, which, contrary to popular belief, is not caused by genetics. In reality, about one in a hundred cases of Alzheimer’s are caused by genes, with lifestyle and dietary factors playing a significant role in the development of the disease.

“It may be possible to prevent up to 80% of dementia cases if all known risk factors, including homocysteine lowering B vitamins and omega-3, found in oily fish, were targeted.” says China’s leading prevention expert Professor Jin-Tai Yu from Fudan Univeristy in Shanghai.

“With no clinically effective drugs, and minimal role of genes our focus must be on making diet and lifestyle changes that reduce risk of developing dementia.” says Professor David Smith, former Deputy Head of the University of Oxford’s Medical Science division. His research has shown up to 73 percent less brain shrinkage in those given B vitamin supplements with sufficient omega-3.

They are members of a group of world-leading brain scientists who have come together to launch Alzheimer’s Prevention Day, taking place on May 15th, to raise awareness of the scientifically proven ways to prevent the disease. The 30-strong team have devised eight simple steps to take towards Alzheimer’s prevention, including going low carb, upping brain fats such as Omega-3, supplementing B vitamins, upping antioxidants and keeping your gut healthy. Find the full list, with more information here.

The global initiative encourages as many people as possible to get involved in prevention, and encourages them to take the free, 3 minute Alzheimer’s Prevention Check, which shows your personalised risk factors and how to dementia-proof your diet and lifestyle.

“Alzheimer’s takes several decades to develop and we largely know what’s driving it.” says Patrick Holford from the prevention charity who are spear-heading the campaign. “We need to change the paradigm towards making prevention a reality. That’s what Alzheimer’s Prevention Day is all about.”

Homocysteine Support Complex


Viridian Homocysteine Support Complex is a specially formulated, targeted blend of key nutrients including vitamin B12, B6 and folate which contribute to normal homocysteine metabolism. High levels of homocysteine can lead to various health implications although often there are few symptoms. Consuming foods that are naturally high in B12, B6 and folate can assist in lowering homocysteine levels and the reduction of homocysteine can support brain and heart health.

Omega 3 High Strength


Holford Omega-3 High Strength contains:

High levels of DHA – 500 mg
High levels of EPA – 750 mg
Peppermint oil to stop fishy aftertaste
Antioxidant: Natural Mixed Tocopherols
Nutrients in their most bio-available form to aid absorption

There are three essentials for building brain cells (neurons) – omega-3 fats, phospholipids and B vitamins.Omega-3 is bound to phospholipids by methylation, which is a process that is dependent on B vitamins – B6, B12 and folate.

Zenflore® – Daily Mental Wellness Supplement


Our carefully crafted capsules are packed with a powerful blend of B vitamins, specifically formulated to support your mental performance and combat tiredness*. Each Zenflore® capsule also contains an impressive 10^9 live Bifidobacterium longum bacteria strain 1714®, ensuring your gut receives the optimal dose of beneficial bacteria for your overall wellbeing.*Zenflore®contains vitamins B6 and B12 both contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and Pantothenic acid which contributes to normal mental performance.

MacuDopa Day & Night Pack


MacuDopa was created by a young onset Parkinson’s patient to help others live well, naturally, with Parkinson’s. MacuDopa contains HPLC standardised, practitioner grade Mucuna pruriens. Peer-reviewed studies show that Mucuna acts rapidly on Parkinson’s symptoms, produces a greater elevation of plasma levels of L-dopa, and has a longer ‘on’ effect than the synthetic versions. Our Day and Night pack pack ensures that you are covered 24 hours a day with all your Mucuna requirements.

Brain Fuel®

Dr Vegan

Struggling to focus? Concerned about your memory? Brain Fuel® is the advanced supplement with clinically proven botanicals, vitamins and minerals, including BacoMind®, Phosphatidylserine and Ginkgo to improve your memory, focus and cognitive performance. Brain Fuel® fuels your brain’s memory, energy, focus and performance every day. Including the patented BacoMind®, clinically shown to improve memory recall and retention over 12 weeks, Brain Fuel® includes proven ingredients to ensure your memory, focus and concentration are at their best each day. Expect to start feeling the difference within 2 weeks.

Living Soda Lemon Lime


A FHIRST of its kind worldwide, FHIRST is a probiotic and prebiotic living gut soda with no sugar or sweeteners that is big on taste and science-backed. Zestify your gut with this ultimate ‘power couple’ … revitalising lemon blended with zingy lime. An unrivalled partnership that packs a mighty gut punch and reaches the gut, where its meant to be. Thanks to its 2 billion stable living probiotic culture and 5G stable prebiotic fibre, FHIRST is the only and real functional soda that reaches the gut (where its meant to be).

Masago Sorghum Superfood Porridge

Masago Porridge

This is Masago Porridge, eaten in East Africa for thousands of years, made from Sorghum – a highly sustainable, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory grain combined with Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds, Almonds, Cashews & Oats to create the gut friendly, low calorie & low GI superfood breakfast served by guides hiking Mount Kilimanjaro!

Flow Coffee

London Nootropics

Adaptogenic Coffee With Lions Mane mushroom & Rhodiola.

This mushroom coffee blend helps you discover motivation, mental clarity & focus. Great for short & long-term memory, brain fog & reducing procrastination.

Free from preservatives & artificial sweeteners. Just pure natural ingredients.