Modern science has led to a renewed interest in the brain and how it governs various important functions in the body.
Like any engine in a machine, you need to give the brain the proper nutritional fuel in order to do its job. Unbalanced diets and poor eating habits have farther-reaching effects than expanding waistlines.
In fact, by changing up the types of food that you eat, you can support your brain’s function at new levels. Imagine:
While changing what you eat won’t lead to these benefits overnight, diet is the foundation of proper brain health. Here’s how you can start putting this into practice today.
Choosing the Best Brain Foods
So what are the best brain foods? “Typically, what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.” This is both indirectly and directly true. A weak heart may affect the health of brain cells. In addition, the nutrient profiles these organs demand are similar.
Here are some of the best brain foods that can start making a difference today:
Fatty acids, including Omega-3s and Omega-6s, are not naturally produced by the body. The most effective sources of these are from oily fish, like salmon, sardines and herring. Sometimes, access to fresh and sustainable fish is hard or not available, therefore, omega supplements are a great alternative.
Tranquility Labs’ own, CogniDHA – High DHA Omega-3 Fish Oil, is a great way to get those omega-3s! It is specially formulated to be ultra-pure and bioavailable, so no impurities and it gets into your body fast. Learn more here.
Fruits, in general, are a good addition to your diet, due to their vitamin and fiber content. When it comes to brain health, though, berries stand apart. This is primarily due to their large quantity of flavonoids.
Flavonoids protect brain cells from damage and chronic inflammation. This makes berries one of the best brain foods! Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, any are a good choice.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach and collards are rich in the crucial vitamin K, as well as other nutrients like choline and vitamin C. Perhaps the most appealing thing about these veggies is their nutrient density.
One cup of broccoli provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C! This can make things a lot easier for you if you want to start planning out your meals.
Nuts and legumes are a great backup option when it comes to brain health, as well as a healthy snack. Walnuts are a great plant source of omega-3s, and the nut family contains large sources of vitamin E, which some credit with slowing cognitive decline.
Avocados have been deemed by some brain experts as “the world’s most perfect food.” This may be a bit dramatic, but the fact of the matter is that this fruit is rich in monounsaturated fats, the same type you find in olive oil. Olive oil is also among the best brain foods.
How Do Brain Foods Power The Brain?
To understand the relationship between your brain and your diet, you need to look to four main items: carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and vitamins.
These nutrients are required in order for the brain to operate at its best.
The body concentrates carbohydrates you get from food into glucose. If you aren’t getting enough, the body has to produce substances called ketones to pick up the slack. Generally speaking, ketones aren’t bad. In excess though, ketones can cause side effects including nausea, bad breath, and potential kidney failure.
Lately, carbs are getting a bit of a bad rap for their role in weight gain, but there are ways to get the necessary fuel your brain needs without running the risk for other issues.
If you’ve been reading about brain health at all, you’ve likely heard about neurotransmitters: the chemicals that allow your brain cells to communicate. In order for the proper neurotransmitters to be emitted at the proper time the brain requires amino acids.
These include tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine, and they are broken down from proteins you consume. For example, tyrosine is needed to produce the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine.
Healthy fats are similar to protein. The body breaks down fat in order to send fatty acids to the brain. Fat is your friend! You need to choose the right sources.
Vitamins and Minerals
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin E
Are There Foods to Avoid?
Perhaps you find yourself wondering if the opposite holds true as well. Are there foods that are bad for your brain? The answer is, indirectly, yes.
For example, refined carbohydrates and white sugar provide glucose, which your brain needs. However, consuming too much of these, an issue many people have, leads to high blood sugar levels. This could lead to a variety of health issues. The same potential for issues would occur if you were to get all your protein from red meat.
In general, balance is key.
Make sure you’re not incurring the bad with the good when you choose your foods.
You will get the best results if you couple these new dietary changes with some lifestyle changes that support them. A good place to start is to get regular exercise, which has been proven to have a positive effect on the brain.
Trying to ensure you get a proper amount of sleep is another facet to focus on.
Along with these lifestyle changes, you may want to consider a dietary supplement.
If you are very deficient in a certain nutrient, it may be difficult to get your levels up with diet alone. One example of a supplement that is great for filling those nutritional gaps is Tranquility Labs’ own Focusene. Focusene uses natural nootropics from sources like dandelion, green tea, nuts, and legumes to support memory and focus.
Maximize Your Focus, Concentration, and Memory
Here are a few things to remember when talking considering the best brain foods for you:
- Carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and vitamins/minerals are the core nutrients your brain needs to function and communicate with the rest of the body.
- As a rule of thumb, certain types of foods with these nutrients are better than others. These include lean proteins like chicken, healthy fatty foods like fish and legumes, and complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables.
- In general, foods that are healthy for the brain are also good for the rest of the body. As a result, while there may not be foods that directly harm the brain, imbalanced levels of things like simple carbohydrates and sugars can cause issues.
- Good compliments to your brain-friendly diet are regular physical exercise, a concrete sleep schedule, and dietary supplements. Supplements can help fill nutritional gaps if you are deficient in certain areas.
Start incorporating these best brain foods into your diet for not only brain support, but also for a greater nutritional balance overall. Are you already starting to feel the effects of the best brain foods out there?
Looking to share or read some of the stories of others who are feeling the benefits of a dietary change? Join the conversation by leaving a comment in the field below!