Better brain function- who doesn’t want that? While many lifestyle factors influence the quality of our brain function, this month we’ll focus on a key piece- nutrition! Children and adults require similar nutrients for optimal brain function, and sometimes a few additions of nutrient-rich foods can make a big difference.
Top 10 ways to support better brain function with nutrition:
- Eat good fats- Fats provide lubrication to the brain and supply essential fatty acids necessary for optimal brain function. Choose avocados, nuts, seeds, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, organic butter, and olive oil.Include a variety of these good fats with every meal.
- Include quality protein- Protein is digested into amino acids needed by the body to build neurotransmitters, those chemical messengers in the brain responsible for a variety of duties including regulating emotions and maintaining focus. The best protein sources are organic meats, nuts, seeds, eggs, Spirulina (blue-green algae in supplement form), green foods, sprouts, and some soy products (tofu, tempeh, and miso).
- Eat lots of vegetables- Veggies provide essential vitamins and minerals and even protein needed for brain function. The darker and more colorful, the better. If you just can’t bring yourself to eat those greens, or if you need an additional boost, include a daily dose of a freeze-dried green powder such as Green Vibrance® Supreme or Amazing Grass® added to juice, applesauce or smoothies.
- Drink plenty of water- A dehydrated brain is a weak brain.Unfortunately, most tap and bottled water is lacking in the minerals naturally occurring in the quality water we need, and may even contain harmful constituents like BPA from plastics, excessive fluoride and even chlorine.A high quality water filter for your home and reuseable containers you love are wonderful investments to make.
- Try fermented foods- Kefir, saurkraut, and kombucha are just a few of the fermented foods that are a natural source of beneficial bacteria that help to balance your gut flora and assist your body in detoxifying. Our digestive health is so integrated with our brain function that the gut has even been named “the second brain.”Taking good care of our guts equals better brain function.
- Avoid the artificial- Consuming a large amount of artificial ingredients and preservatives contributes to a sluggish liver, the organ responsible for detoxifying the blood.When the liver is sluggish, our body is less efficient at removing waste from our blood, and we often feel fatigued, ‘foggy-headed’, and even gain weight.Additionally, artificial colors such as Yellow #5 have been shown to contribute to hyperactivity in children.Choosing organic foods as much as possible will cut down on your family’s exposure to the pesticides in conventionally-farmed food and help to lighten the load on your liver.
- Be aware of your pH- Acid/Alkaline balance refers to the pH of your blood, urine and saliva and is also key to maintaining a healthy brain. When our bodies are chronically acidic, we leave room for bacteria, parasites and yeast to flourish, which rob our bodies of energy and nutrients needed for our best brain function.
- Eat eggs- Eggs are a wonderful brain-healing food, rich in B vitamins, protein and a commonly deficient nutrient, choline.Eggs are best eaten lightly steamed, boiled, or pan-fried with organic butter or coconut oil.If you can handle it, eat them on the runny side since excessive cooking damages those essential nutrients.
- Limit your sugar intake- Sugar has been called the ‘enemy of the brain’ by some practitioners. Refined sugar is especially harmful as it serves as a stimulant and feeds Candida, a harmful yeast that robs the body of nutrients and clouds brain function when present in excessive amounts in the body. Additionally, excessive sugar and insulin contribute to inflammation in the body, which can compromise brain function even further.
- Consider supplements- Supplements are a smart idea when it comes to brain function- specifically, a good digestive enzyme, probiotics and a fish oil supplement are beneficial for just about everyone. Additional nutrients include magnesium, GABA, and B vitamins.Supplementation can be overwhelming, and its best to start with the basics.Quality supplements, found online or at higher quality grocery stores, are worth the extra money as they are better absorbed and utilized in the body and do not contain unnecessary additives and preservatives.