We use our brains every moment of every day right? So what can you do to improve your brains function without some fandangle miracle pill or ridiculous craze diet?
Something I’m super passionate about is healing our bodies through the goodness of foods and fuelling better brain function is no exception to the rule. So if you’re feeling a little sluggish there are a few little changes you can make to your everyday eating habits to support your super brain and I want to share these with you.
While there is no one “superfood” that will boost brain function, don’t dismiss the power of excellent nutrition to sharpen your thinking and improve problem-solving, creativity, learning and memory recall.
Why is nutrition such a big deal for brain function?
The brain weighs only 2% of your body weight, but consumes an astonishing 20% of your caloric intake. And what those calories consist of, matters – a lot. It’s all about small changes and being conscious about what you feed your body. If you look at some of the most successful people in the world one thing they have in common is a balanced diet. Everyone from Richard Branson with his morning fruit salad and grains to Australian cricketer Peter Siddle who eats 11 bananas a day. Ok, you don’t have to eat 11 bananas a day but you get the gist of it.
You may have heard that “you are what you eat”, and it’s true. Food is the most powerful drug! By drug, I mean a substance that causes a physiological change. Food affects your energy, your ability to handle stress, your mood and your brain function so if you’re wondering why you feel like you’re sometimes in a mental fog, it may be because you are eating foods that hinder cognitive function!
Learning, problem-solving, memory retrieval and creativity all require lightning-fast electrical impulses within different areas of the brain and what you eat affects the speed and the quality of those connections.
The key is to combine macronutrients (energy) and micronutrients (cell support, including vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients):
- fat (energy, and fat is a ‘carrier’ for essential micronutrients)
- protein (building blocks of cells)
- carbohydrates (energy)
- micronutrients (cellular support and electrochemical communication)
- water (cellular support and electrochemical communication)
Before we get into the list of “brain foods” remember one rule: the more colour you put on your plate, the better. Veggies are the nutritional superstars and they come in a rainbow assortment. If you make vegetables the main dish and relegate everything else to side dish status, you’re supporting your body and brain in the best way possible with nature’s perfect mix of macro and micronutrients.
Best Brain Foods
These foods pack the most nutrition as well as providing protein and energy (carbohydrates and fat). Eat some of these every day, but remember: eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods for optimal brain and physical functioning!
- raw, unroasted nuts (fat, protein, micronutrients)
- coconut oil (fat, micronutrients)
- avocado (fat, protein, carbohydrates, micronutrients)
- leafy greens (fat, protein, carbohydrates, micronutrients)
- blueberries (carbohydrates, micronutrients)
- sweet potatoes (carbohydrates, micronutrients)
- beets (carbohydrates, micronutrients)
- fish (fat, protein)
- eggs (fat, protein)
That’s the top 10. But, I have to expand this list to 11. Add garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to your diet. They are rich in magnesium, an often-overlooked mineral essential to brain health.
I’m not saying you can never eat fast food again or that you need to join the sugar-free craze. It’s unhealthy, mentally and physically, to rule out certain foods as ‘bad’ and all it does is create a negative relationship with food. It’s all about balance, if you eat well 90% of the time then you can reward yourself every now and then.
Try to avoid
- trans-fats and all cheap oils that are found in processed food
- added sugar and ALL artificial sweeteners
- processed foods
- artificial ingredients of any kind (your body does not know what to do with it!)
How to Fuel Your Genius Brain
- Go whole! Get used to eating a diet of whole foods (as close to their natural form as possible). If it ran, swam, flew, fell off a tree or was pulled from the ground, it’s good for your brain. If it came from a factory and doesn’t even slighlty resemble a natural product… put it back.
- Look for foods that are low on the Glycemic Index (GI). The higher the food’s GI (the body’s insulin response to sugar content) the more mental fog and confusion you will experience.
- Drink water! A dehydrated brain is a sluggish brain. The electrochemical activity in the brain requires water. Water aids in waste removal, temperature regulation, enhances circulation and improves cognitive abilities. Even mild dehydration (the first thirst response) leads to a 10% decline in cognitive function.
- Spice it up! One delicious spice – curry – contains turmeric. Turmeric has one compound, curcumin, which is known to improve memory and stimulate new cell growth. And, rosemary has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, improve mood, and improve memory! And of course, garlic and onions are two plants with an incredible array of health benefits.
Always think in terms of quality and don’t over-restrict yourself. You are what you eat. You wouldn’t drive your car around with fuel that wrecks your motor, so why do it to your body?
Tell me, did I miss anything? What foods do you use that help your brain? Did you learn something new? Comment below and remember sharing is caring!
P.S You have my permission to keep eating smashed avocado on toast. It isn’t actually going to drastically affect your ability to buy a house!