APEX Brain Centers

Brain Food: The Impact of Metabolic and Nutritional Therapy on Brain Health

The human brain is an incredibly complex organ, and many factors influence its health. One key factor that should be considered is the impact of metabolic and nutritional therapy on brain health. By optimizing the body’s metabolic processes and providing essential nutrients, we can help support optimal cognitive functioning and contribute to overall brain health.

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the significant role that metabolic and nutritional therapy plays in maintaining a healthy brain. As part of our comprehensive approach to neurological rehabilitation, we utilize a range of leading-edge treatments, including functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. Additionally, we incorporate balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental and physical health.

Our experience over the past two decades has shown that other healthcare services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions. By addressing the needs of individuals suffering from brain injuries, cognitive impairment, as well as learning and behavioral disorders like OCD, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction, we can offer a truly holistic approach to brain health. Through proper metabolic and nutritional therapies, we strive to support brain function, enhance overall mental and physical health, and improve the effectiveness of our rehabilitation treatments.

Understanding Brain Food: Impact on Health

At APEX Brain Centers, nutrition is essential in maintaining and improving brain health. Understanding the connection between the foods we consume and their impact on our cognitive abilities, mood, and overall mental well-being is vital.

Eating high-quality foods that contain adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stress, which is the waste (free radicals) produced when our bodies use oxygen that can potentially damage cells. The right nutritional balance can significantly influence several aspects of brain function, such as memory, social and emotional behavior, and even motor skills.

Incorporating healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and fish, has shown to be beneficial for brain health. These fats can support neuronal function and structure, promoting better cognitive performance. Moreover, ensuring adequate intake of essential nutrients, such as B vitamins and vitamin C, can significantly impact brain health – even just a few days of deficiency can induce changes in brain function.

As part of our comprehensive approach at APEX Brain Centers, combining functional neurology treatments with targeted nutritional therapy can create a solid foundation for enhancing brain health. Through our comprehensive care, we are committed to helping individuals unlock their full potential and enjoy a better quality of life.

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Metabolic Processes and Nutrition

Our understanding of the complex relationship between metabolism and nutrition has evolved. Metabolism refers to the chemical processes in our body that break down food and transform it into energy. On the other hand, nutrition is how our body processes the nutrients we consume through food and beverages. One key aspect of this connection is the impact of our diet on brain health.

There is growing evidence that certain foods and nutrients play a critical role in supporting brain function, especially in relation to neurotransmitters—chemical messengers that transmit signals in our brain. For instance, the consumption of certain types of fish, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can positively affect neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin 1. These neurotransmitters are essential for regulating mood, memory, and cognition.

Similarly, drinking tea has been associated with improved cognitive function, as it contains antioxidants called flavonoids. These antioxidants help protect our brain cells from damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress, which often result from metabolic imbalances. 

Excessive consumption of sugar may have detrimental effects on neurotransmitter balance. High sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, linked to inflammation and other metabolic issues affecting brain health.

Incorporating dietary changes, such as increasing the intake of healthy fats and antioxidants, can complement our metabolic and nutritional therapies. By optimizing our metabolism and ensuring proper nutrition, we can enhance cognitive function, support brain development, and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. This holistic approach helps individuals recover from brain injuries and lays the foundation for maintaining long-term brain health.

Nutrition and Aging

As we age, the neurons in our brain may experience increased oxidative stress due to high metabolic demands and limited oxygen supply. This limited oxygen supply can lead to cellular damage and impair cognitive function. At APEX Brain Centers, we believe proper nutrition is pivotal in promoting healthy brain function, especially as we age.

Antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits can help counteract oxidative stress, thus protecting neurons from damage. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants may also help reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some beneficial antioxidant-rich foods include leafy greens, berries, and nuts.

In addition to antioxidants, essential fatty acids, mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are crucial for maintaining healthy brain function. These healthy fats are predominantly found in oily (cold water) fish and provide several benefits, such as reducing inflammation and promoting neuronal growth and repair.

Through a combination of proper nutrition and targeted therapies, we at APEX Brain Centers strive to help our patients achieve and maintain optimal brain health. By addressing aging-related neurological changes and prioritizing mental well-being, we can effectively support healthy aging processes, ultimately improving the quality of life for our patients.

Dietary Influence on Mood and Emotions

We understand the strong connection between diet, mood, and emotions. Our approach to comprehensive care for individuals with brain injuries and cognitive impairments emphasizes metabolic and nutritional therapies to support our neurological rehabilitation programs.

A balanced diet plays a critical role in regulating mood and emotions, as certain nutrients are necessary for the production and function of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin, often referred to as the “feel-good” hormone, is synthesized from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is commonly found in proteins, especially those containing healthy fats.

A lack of tryptophan can lead to reduced serotonin levels, which, in turn, may contribute to mood swings, depression, and emotional dysregulation. To ensure adequate serotonin production and promote a stable emotional state, it’s essential to include tryptophan-rich foods, such as poultry, fish, legumes, and healthy fats.

The impact of diet on mood and emotions goes beyond the simple provision of essential nutrients. Research suggests that dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, are associated with better mental health than “unhealthy” diets like the typical Western or Standard American diet. Factors such as glycemic control, immune activation, and gut microbiome, impacted by our food choices, affect how food affects our emotional state.

To review, the foods we eat significantly impact our mood and emotions. By consuming a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like tryptophan and adopting healthy dietary patterns, we can support mental health and promote emotional resilience. 

Effects of Inflammation and Anti-inflammatory Foods

Inflammation is crucial to our body’s immune response, helping us heal from injuries and fight infections. However, chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems, including negative impacts on brain health. At APEX Brain Centers, we recognize the importance of addressing inflammation through multiple approaches, including metabolic and nutritional therapies.

One way to combat inflammation is by incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into our diets. These foods contain nutrients that help reduce inflammation and promote overall brain health. In particular, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, which positively affect brain health. Consuming fish or supplementing with high-quality fish oil can help support cognitive function and reduce age-related cognitive decline.

A ketogenic or modified ketogenic diet is another potential approach to managing inflammation and promoting brain health. This diet is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates, causing the body to shift its primary fuel source from glucose to ketone bodies. Ketones have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, making the ketogenic diet an exciting option for individuals seeking to enhance brain health.

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods rich in DHA, EPA, and other beneficial nutrients, as well as considering dietary approaches such as the ketogenic diet, can be essential to promoting brain health and improving cognitive function. Combining these nutritional strategies and our comprehensive treatment approaches at APEX Brain Centers, we aim to help our clients achieve their goals and enhance their overall brain health and functioning.

The Role of Vitamins and Minerals

One integral part of our approach involves the inclusion of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, as they play a crucial role in cognitive functioning.

Vitamins and minerals are essential for various brain functions, including energy production, neurotransmission, and protection from oxidative stress. Among these, vitamins E and D are essential as they have antioxidant properties and support brain health in multiple ways.

  • Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect the brain from oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals. It has been observed to play a role in reducing age-related cognitive decline and may help support normal brain function in individuals with cognitive impairment. Foods rich in vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach.
  • Vitamin D: This essential vitamin is critical for maintaining neuronal health and protecting against inflammation in the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline. Many studies have reported a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of cognitive impairment and neurological disorders. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, and fortified milk.

In addition to these vitamins, minerals play a crucial role in brain function. Some important minerals that contribute to brain health include:

  • Magnesium: Involved in energy production and neurotransmitter release, magnesium supports cognition, learning, and memory. Whole foods containing magnesium include green leafy vegetables and healthy fats like avocados and nuts.
  • Zinc: An important antioxidant, zinc is crucial for neuronal development, synaptic activity, and neurotransmitter function. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Selenium: Known for its antioxidant properties, selenium is essential for preventing oxidative stress in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline. Dietary sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, and eggs.

As part of our functional neurology assessments and interventions at APEX Brain Centers, we ensure individuals with brain injuries and cognitive impairment receive the necessary metabolic and nutritional therapies based on comprehensive laboratory analysis to enhance the effectiveness of our comprehensive functional neurological approach.

By understanding and utilizing the benefits of vitamins and minerals, we strive to promote and maintain the overall brain health of our patients and support their recovery journeys.

Influence of Diet on Cognitive Functions

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of diet in maintaining and improving cognitive functions. A healthy and balanced diet can be crucial in reducing the risk of cognitive decline and supporting brain health. Research has shown that certain nutrients can have a significant impact on brain function, affecting memory, cognition, and even the risk of developing dementia 1.

One of the primary factors influencing cognitive function is the intake of macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Adequate intake of these nutrients is crucial for optimal brain functioning, as they supply the energy and support necessary for various brain processes. For instance, glucose metabolism, neurotransmitter actions, cerebral oxidation, and inflammation are key mechanisms by which dietary macronutrients affect the brain and cognition 2.

To maintain a healthy brain, we recommend incorporating the following components into one’s diet:

  • Healthy fats: Crucial for brain health; healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are in foods like fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. They improve cognitive function and help protect against cognitive decline as we age 3.
  • Antioxidants: Rich in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress linked to cognitive impairment and dementia 4.
  • Essential vitamins and minerals: These play important roles in brain health, including vitamin B complex, vitamin D, choline, magnesium, and zinc. Deficiencies in these nutrients are connected to cognitive decline and memory loss 5.

Remember that a balanced diet is essential to maintaining cognitive health and preventing neurological disorders. Every individual must consult their healthcare professional and create a personalized nutrition plan supporting brain health.

Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a crucial component of a healthy diet, offering numerous benefits for brain health and cognitive function. They are part of a larger group of fats known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The primary omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

At APEX Brain Centers, incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into our metabolic and nutritional therapies is essential to our comprehensive care approach. We recognize the importance of DHA, a major structural component of the brain and a key factor in supporting neural plasticity. DHA promotes healthy cognitive function, memory, and learning abilities.

Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can improve blood flow to the brain and help regulate mood and mental health. APEX integrates omega-3 supplementation into our metabolic and nutritional therapies as part of our mission to provide leading-edge therapies. This supports patients with cognitive impairments, learning and behavioral disorders, brain injuries, and other neurological challenges.

An adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also positively affect the gut microbiota, improving gut-brain communication and overall mental well-being. Our focus on omega-3 supplementation complements our other treatments: functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, and home care programs.

Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into our patients’ metabolic and nutritional therapies allows us to enhance the effectiveness of their overall care plan. By prioritizing brain-healthy components like omega-3s, we help our patients achieve maximum potential for cognitive improvement and optimal mental health.

Diet and Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are characterized by the progressive and chronic loss of neuronal structure and function. One of the significant factors contributing to these diseases is the metabolic dysfunction that disrupts the brain’s ability to utilize glucose effectively. Our practice at APEX Brain Centers emphasizes addressing the underlying metabolic and nutritional imbalances contributing to neurodegenerative diseases.

Carbohydrates play a significant role in brain health, as they are the primary energy source for the brain. However, excessive consumption of carbohydrates, significantly refined sugars, may lead to insulin resistance hamper the brain’s ability to utilize glucose, and promote small blood vessel disease. This can increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, it is essential to make dietary choices that support brain health and minimize the risk of metabolic dysfunction.

Here are a few vital dietary recommendations that can help improve brain health:

  • Consume healthy fats: Replacing refined carbohydrates with healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, can offer better nutrition for the brain. These fats help support neuronal function and reduce inflammation, often associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Incorporate antioxidant-rich foods: Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and protect the brain from oxidative damage. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark leafy greens, brightly colored vegetables, and berries should be part of a brain-healthy diet.
  • Prioritize high-quality protein sources: Protein is crucial for producing neurotransmitters and maintaining brain cell function. Including high-quality protein sources, such as fish, lean meats, and legumes, can help support brain health.


  1. The impact of dietary macronutrient intake on cognitive function and neurological health.
  2. The impact of dietary macronutrient intake on cognitive function and brain processes.
  3. How omega-3 fatty acids affect brain health.
  4. The role of antioxidants in combating oxidative stress and cognitive decline.
  5. Essential vitamins and minerals for brain health.

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

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