Top 7 brain-boosters
This blog is all about sharing the foods I’ve found that are beneficial for your brain. If you’ve read any other pages on my website, you’ll probably be aware that my own experiences with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), post-partum depression as well as some family history in mental health challenges, has all fueled my interest in brain optimisation and natural remedies for mood disorders. Our brains are part of our bodies, right?! So it makes sense that if we look after our physical health, good mental health will follow.
Most of our brains will appreciate a bit of nutritional support, but especially so for anyone experiencing mood disorders, PMDD, brain-fog, age-related cognitive decline, or even if you just want to boost your brain power. Following are my top 7 brain boosting foods….
- HEALTHY FATS
Our brains consist of 60% fat! Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to brain function, memory & learning. Fats are essential as part of the insulation of the nerve cells (called myelin) to ensure efficient signalling. So, eat fat! Healthy fat, of course. Best sources include:
- Oily Fish – salmon, sardines, mackerel (sustainably sourced). 3-4 servings/week
- Healthy oils – use liquid oils cold (like extra virgin olive oil or nut oils) and only use solid oils like ghee and coconut oil for cooking. 3 tablespoons daily
- Bone marrow – Research in to our hominid ancestors suggest that their brains grew when they started cracking open bones to suck out the marrow! If that idea irks you (as it does me), try using bone broth as a drink/snack or add to cooking. 1 cup daily.
- Avocados – a great source of good fats, fibre and antioxidants. ½ – 1 avo daily.
- Nuts – especially walnuts, almonds, macadamias. Nuts also contain anti-oxidants that help reduce brain inflammation, improve neuronal signalling & increase neurogenesis (ie, making new nerve/brain cells). ¼ – ½ cup daily.
See what I did there? One food idea became a category of five! That’s because I think good fats are the most important brain food.
Strongly coloured berries such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are pretty well known for their antioxidant content, and that’s the main reason they are good for your brain. They help prevent premature brain ageing, they increase blood flow to the brain and activate areas linked to cognitive function. Eating berries has been linked to improved neuronal communication, & may help prevent age-related memory loss. ½ – 1 cup daily is a good start.
Eggs are an excellent source of several nutrients important for proper brain functioning and development, as well as regulating mood. They may help protect you from memory loss and other signs of cognitive decline as you get older. Eggs are also a great source of the antioxidants which help prevent eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Always choose organic and/or free-range eggs for the best nutritional profile. 2 eggs a day, 5 days per week is a good intake.
4. SAUERKRAUT & other fermented foods
By now you’ve undoubtedly heard about the importance of good gut bacteria in supporting overall long-term health, including how probiotics from cultured foods such as sauerkraut may help reduce stress and maintain brain health. Probiotics have been found to help improve memory and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, autism, even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Alzeimers.
Other fermented foods & drinks that offer similar benefits include kimchi, kombucha, kefir (milk kefir and water kefir) and yoghurt. Consuming a little fermented food/drink daily can have a positive impact on your gut and brain health. A tablespoon or so at each meal.
5. GREEN VEGETABLES
What are they NOT good for? Green vegies are low in sugar and packed full of nutrients essential for brain function. Research has found that greens lower the risk of dementia & cognitive decline, and in pregnancy are essential for babies’ brain and spinal cord development. They are also an abundant source of magnesium, well known as the relaxing mineral, so vital for stress management and PMS-related symptoms. Greens are also a great source of fibre, which is an essential food source for your microbiome.
Most people don’t get enough vegies in their daily diet. The recommended intake is 5 serves/day, but many sources suggest MUCH more for therapeutic effect: I mean, 8-10 serves. Try increasing your intake via green smoothies, soups, salads and stir-fries. Include some kind of vegetable at every meal and snack!
6. GREEN TEA
Green tea has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory and focus. It is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that may protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It contains L-theanine, an amino acid that increases the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed. Drink 1 – 2 cups daily!
Apart from fat, your brain contains a very high proportion of water. Keeping it hydrated will help to increase blood flow and oxygen to your brain, thus improve concentration, memory and cognition, help balance your mood and emotions, as well as prevent and relieve headaches.
Start by drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.
SAMPLE MENU FOR SUPERCHARGING YOUR BRAIN
You can help support your brain health and boost your alertness, memory and mood by including these foods in your diet. I don’t think it’s hard, here’s a sample food plan for a day:
- Green smoothie: (2 cups Spinach or silverbeet, 1/2 -1 avocado, ½ bunch mint, 1/2cup yoghurt or kefir, plus filtered water. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes)
- 2 soft-boiled eggs
- Big green salad (2-3 cups) with sardines or salmon, olive oil, & sauerkraut
- Stir-fry with lots of greens, and grass-fed beef. Cook in coconut oil & bone broth.
- Glass of kefir or kombucha
- Walnuts (or other nuts such as almonds, macadamias, pecans, brazil nuts)
- Berries – with live, plain yoghurt
- Bone broth – add seaweed, ginger
- Toasted Nori snacks
- Kale chips
- Green tea
- Kombucha or kefir (1/2 – 1 cup daily)
- Coffee (maximum 2 daily)
What do you do to nourish your brain?
If you need help working out how to arrange your diet to include more brain-boosting foods, click/tap on the “Book Now” button to make an appointment or a free strategy call to find out more. My approach to dietary changes is to work with your current lifestyle and food preferences, then tweak them in easily managed chunks to improve your mental and physical health. It doesn’t have to be hard or scary!