Food For Thought

VEGETABLES

Asparagus

Love it or hate it, asparagus is outstanding brain food. One cup of cooked asparagus yields 70% of your recommended daily folate intake.

Folate is one of the B-vitamins that prevents cognitive decline and increases focus. Folate tends to your white matter. (That’s the bit that coordinates brain activity, serving as a highway for signals.)

FOR THE NERDY: The academic article for those of you who speak fluent Dutch.


Kale

If brain fog threatens to slow you down, dark leafy greens like kale are the perfect remedy.

Kale is packed with memory enhancers and cognitive accelerators: vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, folate, and potassium.

If you’re put off by their inherent sharp flavour, just know that bitter compounds indicate disease-fighting phytochemicals.

FOR THE NERDY: More to chew on

Beetroot

Packed with nutrients to boost your brain and fuel your libido, we think beets deserve the top spot on this week’s shopping list.

Why? Beets are performance enhancers. Rich in nitrates, they increase blood flow. They also deliver boron, a trace mineral that ups the production of sex hormones.

Beets significantly crank up cognitive performance and overall well-being too. They’ll also keep inflammation at bay and prevent your insides from oxidising like a forgotten apple slice. So what if the flavour’s a bit of a turn-off? They still deserve affection.

FOR THE NERDY: A healthy supply of beet deets


Celery

Celery contains luteolin, a potent compound that combats inflammation without destroying neurons. It slows down the production of cytokines, your immune system’s SOS chemical messengers.

Luteolin fosters a healthy hippocampus, the region some might call Mind Palace Central. Consume luteolin and your memory with thank you.

Celery contains vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s hailed for lowering blood pressure and fighting chronic diseases and to top it off, celery is low in calories.

FOR THE NERDY: More celery goodness

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Broccoli

Broccoli packs a choline punch.

Whilst beef liver tops the chart when it comes to choline, we think broccoli is a more appetising proposition.

Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for memory and cognitive function.

It can offset damage caused by traumatic brain injuries and it helps expectant mums and babies thrive.

FOR THE NERDY: Read up on Choline

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts’ health benefits are owed to their ratio of calories to vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients. (You can read about their ANDI score here.)

A single 1-cup serving of handsome sprouts will give you more than your daily vitamin K and vitamin C. You’ll top up on vitamin A and B-6, enjoy some folate, potassium, and manganese AND score 4 grams of protein.

Word to the wise: don’t overcook them. Go green to maximise nutrients and visual appeal

FOR THE NERDY: All things sprouts

SAVOURY

Fish

Fish are rich sources of Omega 3s, an essential fatty acid that makes up the cell membrane of brain cells. Your body can’t make Omega-3 so it’s important to include it in your diet.

Omega-3s work to preserve cell membrane health and make sure brain cells communicate to each other. Studies have shown that a lack of dietary Omega 3s can lead to deficits in learning and memory.

Choose fatty sources of fish for high Omega 3 content. Good options: mackerel, salmon, sea bass, sardines.

FOR THE NERDY: How Omegas do their thing

Eggs

Egg yolks contain a 125 mg of choline, an important micronutrient that your body uses to create a neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) which helps regulate mood and memory.

Eggs also contain several B vitamins and folate which slow the progression of mental decline in the elderly. A lack of folate and B12 has also been linked to depression.

FOR THE NERDY: Get cracking now

 

Tomatoes

Rich in two carotenoids, beta-carotene and lycopene; tomatoes are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body from inflammation caused by free radicals, which your brain is especially prone to.

Due to its role in regulating genes that control inflammation and cell growth, lycopene aids in the prevention of mild cognitive disorders and Alzheimer’s.

FOR THE NERDY: Everybody say tomato.

Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) boasts Vitamins E & K. The first wards off mental decline; the second boosts processing speed.

The odds of developing depression shrink for people who consume EVOO over its unhealthy alternatives.

EVOO is ripe with critical chemicals responsible for stimulating brain cell formation and repair.

FOR THE NERDY: Original source article from Be Brain Fit.


Walnuts

Nuts and seeds are all terrific but walnuts score the most points among all tree nuts. They have the highest optimum ratio of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6).

This pair of fatty acids is an antioxidant dynamic duo, fighting free radicals and restoring balance. They improve cognitive performance by maintaining plasticity and stabilising nerve cell membranes

FOR THE NERDY: Time to get nutty about nuts


Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are amazing sources of zinc, magnesium, and the amino acid glutamate.

Magnesium: relaxes you and help you sleep better.

Zinc: improve memory and cognition.

Glutamate: mandatory for synthesis of GABA - a neurochemical in the brain that helps reduce anxiety and nervousness.

A tablespoon of pumpkin seeds is all you need to meet your daily zinc requirements (4-7mg).

FOR THE NERDY: Magnesium and zinc

SWEET

Blueberries

Blueberries are powerful antioxidants, protecting the brain from damage caused by free radicals.

Researchers have discovered that, over time, eating blueberries significantly increases activity in brain regions dedicated to cognitive function.

FOR THE NERDY: All the blueberry scientific studies around.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that are good for your brain.

Flavanols are natural compounds with neuroprotective effects. They improve working memory and visual information processing.

In elderly individuals, cognitive performance is improved by a daily intake of cocoa flavanols.

Look for dark chocolate with a high (75+) percentage of cocoa.

FOR THE NERDY: Pro-chocolate research.

Grapes

Grape seed extract contains potent nutrients. It enhances memory through its impacts on brain cell growth and plasticity in the hippocampus.

Research also indicates a steady intake of grape seed extract has the power to ward off harmful inflammation, depression and anxiety and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

FOR THE NERDY: The not-so-brief run-down

Oranges

Vitamin C rich foods like oranges combat free radicals, prevent against mental decline, and keep your brain in tip top shape as you age.

Free radicals occur naturally within the body, but if left unchecked they cause oxidative stress, which leads to disease, premature aging, and neurological degeneration (like Alzheimer’s).

Easily meet the vitamin C RDI by eating one medium orange per day.

Here’s a handy list of other fruits and veg high in vitamin C.

FOR THE NERDY: Here’s more about free rads, the brain, and vitamin C.

DRINKS

Coffee

Coffee’s brain benefits extend beyond its caffeine content.

Coffee beans contain a high concentration of phenylindanes which inhibit the amalgamation of tau and beta-amyloid. These are toxic proteins, of which the excessive buildup in the brain is a key factor in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Opt for dark roast coffee beans for the greatest phenylindanes hit.

FOR THE NERDY: Medical News Today.

Alcohol

Moderate drinking promotes the brain’s cleaning process, called the glymphatic system.

The glymphatic systemuses cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to powerwash brain tissue and remove waste, including the proteins beta amyloid and tau which are associated with dementia.

Current research suggests that 2.5 drinks per day to be moderate. Remember to always #drinkresponsibly !

FOR THE NERDY: Fancy a tipple?

SUPPLEMENTS

Turmeric

Turmeric owes its therapeutic properties to curcumin.

Turmeric helps combat inflammation, oxidation, digestive issues, heart disease and more. It also cuts down on beta-amyloid plaques and delays cerebral neuron degradation.

FOR THE NERDY: All things turmeric 


Ashwagandha

Unlike some natural remedies, ashwagandha’s anti-anxiety portfolio is backed by science.

Ashwagandha reduces anxiety by lowering cortisol, the body’s so-called stress hormone.

Additional effects include

  • Improved cognition

  • Decreased inflammation

  • Reversed signs of aging

  • Enhanced sleep benefits

  • Increased sexual desire and more

FOR THE NERDY: Read the double-blind study

Moringa

The moringa tree has been nourishing brains for centuries in places like India and Pakistan. Lately, its powder form is popular with the masses.

It’s packed with antioxidants which combat inflammation and boost memory. Moringa also normalises the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline to optimise mental health

Beyond that, it’s just plain good for you. It dishes up three times more iron than spinach.

FOR THE NERDY: More dirt on the miracle plant


Probiotics

A surge in research points to a physiological connection between our brains and intestine, referred to as the Gut-Brain axis.

We know the road to digestive health is paved with probiotics. Those tiny microorganisms set up shop in our bodies and maintain peace by warding off unhealthy inflammation. Lactobacillus rhamnosus in particular may help ward off anxiety too.

FOR THE NERDY: Enjoy your academic summary

WHAT TO MISS

Salt

Scientists now believe that sodium overkill can negatively impact the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut. There is a growing body of research dedicated to the link between our gut and brain, referred to as the gut-brain axis.

Preliminary work suggests that these tiny microorganisms set up shop in our bodies and maintain peace by warding off unhealthy inflammation that can impact our cognitive performance.

FOR THE NERDY: Your brain on salt

Sugar

Studies in animals have linked high fructose intake with insulin resistance in the brain, and a reduction in brain function, memory, learning, and the formation of brain neurons.

FOR THE NERDY: Sweet, sweet science


MINDFUL MUNCHING

Go screen-free. Put down your phone, close your lappie, and practice mindful eating. Be aware of what you’re eating using your senses and tune in to the experience. You’ll enjoy your food more, reduce stress, and won’t overeat because you’ll notice when you’ve had enough.

Reduce takeaway. Meal prep sounds kinda boring but it’s a serious game changer. Make a shitload of something delicious, and use your freezer more and Uber Eats less. Done.

Pack snacks. Channel your inner squirrel and stash some nuts in your work bag or jacket pocket. When you’re rushing to a meeting, grab those instead of a chocolate bar.

Treat yo self. Developing healthy eating habits doesn’t mean deprivation. You can still have your high-qual chocolate on occasion, just take the time to enjoy it instead of eating it mindlessly while you double tap the day’s dog pics on IG.

FOR THE NERDY: More than food

 

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Dawn is building a community of individuals striving to optimise their brains. We deliver science backed insights into your inbox each Sunday to help you ace the week ahead.