A Nutty Way to Improve Brain Health

Posted by Ashleigh Wilson on

How does the water of the brain turn into the wine of consciousness?

This is a question posed by Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist, David Chalmers. While modern science understands little of how consciousness is created, what we do know is that what we put in our bodies can significantly impact how we think and feel. While this could affect how well we may do in that upcoming exam or handle the pressures of life, it also alters just about everything that makes us human, including our memories, experiences and thoughts. 

What was I saying again? 

Oh, that’s right. 

When our brain health isn’t optimal, we may be more forgetful. We may also experience more negative thought patterns, depression and anxiety. 

Not ideal, huh?

The good news is that with the right food, we can help our brains function optimally. This isn’t to say all our problems will simply disappear, but it could make them easier to deal with. Plus, our diet can also help prevent age-related cognitive decline and conditions such as dementia. 

This Walnut Disappoint 

It really should come as no surprise that many of the plants we eat for food contain molecules that alter the way our bodies function, including our brains. Even in today’s world, which largely overlooks traditional treatments, 11% of the medicines considered basic and essential by the World Health Organisation (WHO) come from flowering plants.

There is so much for us to cover on this topic, more than what we can fit in this article, but let’s take a common ingredient that is easy to add to a lot of foods: Walnuts. 

The appearance of walnuts as tiny brains is rather fitting when you consider the abundance of nutrients in them which promote good brain health. For starters, walnuts have high levels of vegan protein. Protein is the second largest matter in the brain, so for optimum function and alertness, keeping up your protein levels is a must. Walnuts tick this box.

Walnuts also contain many powerful micronutrients associated with healthy brain function such as tocopherols (a type of vitamin E), manganese and B vitamins.

There are many studies around the benefits of these micronutrients, but long story short, there is evidence that they can slow age-related cognitive decline, slow neurodegenerative diseases and lower LDL (a type of cholesterol associated with cardiac events that can cause serious hypoxic brain damage). 

That’s pretty nuts.  Pun intended - sorry, not sorry. 

Of course, walnuts are the most transformational when they’ve been activated. This is a process with ancient roots, believed to have come from Aztecs and Aborigines. Along with being easier to digest and safer for those with allergies, activated nuts have higher levels of nutrients. So to supercharge your walnuts and brain power, activation is the way to go.

Get Nutty for Yourself AND Those Around You

Eating walnuts isn’t a nutty thing to do for society either. Looking after our brain health can make a massive impact on the community.

In Australia alone there are approximately 459,000 cases of dementia and an estimated 1.6 million people involved in their care and support. Dementia is among the most expensive health conditions to treat, making it difficult to underestimate how much societal and individual benefit could come from increased brain health! 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2017-2018 that 13.1% of Australians have an anxiety disorder and 10.4% had feelings of depression, both increasing significantly since the last survey. Many of us will have experienced these disorders first hand, or have been close to someone who has, and will know the detrimental impacts they can have on different aspects of life. 

While we may not be able to answer the question of how the water of the brain turns into the wine of consciousness, we do know we can improve some of the pillars of consciousness. 

Research suggests making changes to our diets (and sticking with them!) will result in improved cognition and mood. These are changes that your body, your friends and family, and society at large, will thank you for making!

You’d be nuts not to do it.


We’ve added premium activated walnuts to our nut mixes; however, if these are out of your price range, you can also get standard walnuts from your local supermarket. 

You also don’t need to add walnuts to every meal, just a couple of nuts a day can make a difference. You could add them to your smoothie, musli or stir-fry. These are a few ideas, the potentials are limitless really.  Why not get those creative juices flowing by experimenting and enjoy some nutty creations? 

References & Further Reading 

Brain Health: 

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  2. Mattson M. P. (2012). Energy intake and exercise as determinants of brain health and vulnerability to injury and disease. Cell metabolism, 16(6), 706–722. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2012.08.012

  3. Lippi, G., Mattiuzzi, C., & Sanchis-Gomar, F. (2020). Updated overview on interplay between physical exercise, neurotrophins, and cognitive function in humans. Journal of sport and health science, 9(1), 74–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2019.07.012

  4. Larrieu, T., & Layé, S. (2018). Food for Mood: Relevance of Nutritional Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Depression and Anxiety. Frontiers in physiology, 9, 1047. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.01047

  5. Spencer, S. J., Korosi, A., Layé, S., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Barrientos, R. M. (2017). Food for thought: how nutrition impacts cognition and emotion. NPJ science of food, 1, 7. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41538-017-0008-y

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  14. Ramanoël, S., Hoyau, E., Kauffmann, L., Renard, F., Pichat, C., Boudiaf, N., Krainik, A., Jaillard, A., & Baciu, M. (2018). Gray Matter Volume and Cognitive Performance During Normal Aging. A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 10, 235. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00235

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  16. Wang, A. S., & Dreesen, O. (2018). Biomarkers of Cellular Senescence and Skin Aging. Frontiers in genetics, 9, 247. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2018.00247

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  18. Ain, Q., Schmeer, C., Penndorf, D., Fischer, M., Bondeva, T., Förster, M., Haenold, R., Witte, O. W., & Kretz, A. (2018). Cell cycle-dependent and -independent telomere shortening accompanies murine brain aging. Aging, 10(11), 3397–3420. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.101655

  19. Gorelick, P. B., Furie, K. L., Iadecola, C., Smith, E. E., Waddy, S. P., Lloyd-Jones, D. M., Bae, H. J., Bauman, M. A., Dichgans, M., Duncan, P. W., Girgus, M., Howard, V. J., Lazar, R. M., Seshadri, S., Testai, F. D., van Gaal, S., Yaffe, K., Wasiak, H., Zerna, C., & American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (2017). Defining Optimal Brain Health in Adults: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, 48(10), e284–e303. https://doi.org/10.1161/STR.0000000000000148

  20. Kim D. (2016). Correlation between physical function, cognitive function, and health-related quality of life in elderly persons. Journal of physical therapy science, 28(6), 1844–1848. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.1844

  21. Dementia Australia (2018) Dementia Prevalence Data 2018-2058. Commissioned research undertaken by NATSEM, University of Canberra, Canberra

  22. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018). National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18. ABS Catalogue no. 4364.0.55.001, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra

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