Brain Food – increase your brainpower
The brain is an incredible organ and capable of so much. We are just starting to understand all the processes that daily happen in our brains.
Happiness, joy, memories … all these feelings are tied to a proper function of the brain.
When we talk about the connection between brain dysfunctions and genetics it´s less than 2% of the population that is affected. Conversely, this means that you can take a huge influence on your brain health with the food you eat and a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, social activity, nutritional quality or obesity are some of the factors that influence brain health.
It is important to understand how the brain works in order to optimize it.
Did you know what sets brain cells apart from other cells in your body? They don´t die. Brain cells are irreplaceable. Other cells are renewed on a regular basis but that is not the case with brain cells. So, it makes sense to treat them well with the right nutrients to prevent them from disappearing.
Because once they are gone you can´t bring them back.
Think about red blood cells, they die and get replaces continuously. Another good example is your fingernails. You cut them and they grow back because the cells grow back.
The brain is actually the most protected organ in the body. And that might be the reason why we don´t associate its wellbeing with food.
Not every nutrient can get into your brain
Not every nutrient can get into the brain. The organ is “protected” by the blood-brain barrier. It acts like a doorman and chooses which nutrients are allowed to enter. The brain itself decides which substances are needed and lets them in. After the needs are replenished the doors shut again.
This amazing process guides us to the foods and nutrients we should eat regularly. And it also shows which foods are not helpful (these are the ones that can´t pass the doorman).
How food relates to the form and function of the brain
If you look at the brain from the outside the shape looks similar to a huge bean. What is this weird looking mass actually made of? FOOD! Yes, it´s made of food and the nutrients that come within the food.
To be more specific, the brain is made of chemical molecules that we call nutrients. The brain makes a lot of the nutrients on its own. That means the food doesn´t become your brain but it has a tremendous impact. The food is more likely used to make tissues out of it.
The biggest misconception is that the brain is made of fat and therefore we need to eat fat to replenish brain fat. Cholesterol is a very prevalent fat and so is saturated fat.
The surprising truth is – the brain makes the needed fats on its own. We are born with a storage full of cholesterol in our brains. No cholesterol from your body can pass the blood-brain barrier and come into the brain.
Fat in our brains has one reason only. It´s there to give it structure. The brain is the only organ that can´t burn fat for energy.
Top brain foods that are good for you
Oats, brown rice or whole-grain bread have a low glycemic index. They release glucose slowly into your bloodstream and into your brain. That results in a steady supply of energy and supports the ability to focus and concentrate.
Nuts and seeds
They are an excellent source of vitamin E. The main function of this vitamin is cell protection. It binds free radicals and has an antioxidative effect.
Higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as we get older. Try to add a few nuts daily to your diet but avoid salty nuts. Nuts are one of the best brain food snacks and easy to pack for every day.
Blueberries and tomatoes
The bright colors already indicate that these two foods are high in secondary plant substances. Learn more about secondary plant substances from my blog post “How to avoid inflammation!”
Blueberries are also a rich source of vitamin C, which helps to protect cells and aids iron absorption. They are a perfect brain food before exams and will boost your brain.
Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. They are essential for a good brain function. Omega 3 also contains anti-inflammatory compounds. And this is also the case for oily fish like herring or sardines. Try to include fish 2 or 3 times a week in your diet.
Don´t underestimate beans. They are a great source of energy and add to the daily recommended intake for fiber.
The hot beverage has two main components that you can count as brain food: caffeine and antioxidants! We have already talked about the benefits of antioxidants for your brain.
Caffeine keeps your brain alert and may boost the “happy” neurotransmitter serotonin.
Everybody knows broccoli is healthy and I challenge you to find a nutrition or fitness website that doesn´t talk about broccoli. It´s a nutritious powerhouse and here is why broccoli is the perfect brain food.
It has antioxidative components and what is even more beneficial is the component of vitamin K. This vitamin keeps helps keep blood vessels flexible.
Eggs provide several nutrients that are linked to brain health. Components like choline are crucial to building neurotransmitters that can affect your mood and also benefit your memory. Don´t miss out on the egg yolk because it is the best source for brain nutrients.
After you know now how to support your brain with the right brain food here is one more fact about the brain:
It can´t feel pain! There are no pain receptors in the brain.
Think about that for a second. If you feel pain in your body than you know there is something wrong and you can take action to do something against it.
If you don´t feel pain than you automatically assume everything is ok and healthy. Till you experience massive dysfunctions or memory loss for example. At that time, it might already be too late to fix the condition and you can only try to prevent the condition to get worse.
But what about headaches and migraines? They feel like your brain is hurting and in pain. This pain is actually not in your brain. Mostly the pain is located in the neck muscles. The pain spreads and it feels like your head is hurting.
Start eating healthy and prevent your body from nutrient deficiency.