Just like our bodies, our brains need to be nourished as well. This is essential for all of the brain functions we need and want, like clear-minded thinking, vivid memory and imagination, and even a fast wit. Our mood, cognitive function and overall wellness of the brain relies very heavily on the nutrients we provide it. But what should we actually be feeding our brain to get these in? Pamper your minds as we delve into the brain-boosting nutrition and foods we all need. Literally food for thought!
Variety is key
There’s no single food or magic pill that can give us all of the vital nutrients our brains so desperately need – thus a variety of different nutritious foods is the key. Balanced meals and snacks consisting of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean protein and healthy fats is what will keep us happy from head to toe. Keeping highly processed foods and sugary treats to a minimum is also important to avoid any nasty inflammation, reduce brain fog and anxiety. The powerful antioxidants that many whole foods provide can protect our cells and brain from free radicals in the short and long term.
Foods of focus
An excellent source of healthy, unsaturated fat to back up our brain power. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce cognitive decline by keeping our blood pressure down – very important for maximising our minds.
This powerhouse brain food is packed with choline which fuels the growth and health of memory cells. Though this specifically comes from the yolk – so forget about those egg-white omelettes. The protein, iron and vitamin A in eggs helps boost overall cognitive function, memory, and the brain’s ability to adapt.
- Green veggies
Ever been told to eat your greens? Definitely do it. Our brains thrive off the folate, vitamin K and lutein present in the dark green vegetables we used to scrunch ours faces up at as kids. The iron present in a decent amount of these vegetables also assists in oxygenating the brain, so consider adding some spinach to your morning smoothie.
- Fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids that are an excellent support of the developing brain. In adults, these fatty acids boost overall cognition, memory and mental wellbeing.
A nut that literally looks like a brain. This is a plant source of omega 3 fatty acids so a great option for getting these nutrients in if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. They also provide a good amount of zinc which is essential for ensuring the brain cells can release neurotransmitters in order to formulate ideas and intentions adequately.
Foods in moderation
- Red meat
These meats are usually higher in saturated fat, which can lead to a build-up of arterial plaque, limiting the blood supply throughout the body and to the brain.
- Fried food
Blood supply to the brain can also be limited by excess consumption of fried foods, as they contribute to inflammation and damage blood vessels.
- Sugary snacks and sweets
Highly processed, sugary foods contribute to can give us a fake “sugar high”, and then comes the dreaded slump. They are also very high in energy without yielding many nourishing nutrients.
- Butter and margarine
These spreads have a very high saturated fat content. Consider using unsaturated alternatives like EVOO.