Brain food wasn’t a lie your mom made up to get you to eat vegetables. More and more Americans are choosing to bio hack their way through the mental haze.
First let’s understand what’s going on upstairs…
Your body is a machine and food is the fuel. As you eat, your body takes the fuel and burns it by breaking down food and packaging it for various parts of the body. When we eat healthy foods with good fats, your brain runs like a car during the Indy 500. Likewise when we eat processed snacks high in fake sugars and trans fats our little engine tends to gum up and slow down.
One of the most influential byproducts of your food breakdown is the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the driver for our sleep schedule, appetite, moods, sex drive, and even has the ability to suppress pain. Should it be any surprise that this power drug is made in our gut? Our gastrointestinal tract churns out 95% of the serotonin made in our bodies, thereby controlling our emotions and brain functionality. If you’re really ready to go down a rabbit hole of how your gut is connected to your brain, read more here. But now that you know how to harness this feel-good chemical, you can foster it with your diet. Read our top picks below on how to boost serotonin and company, add better bacteria, and improve your brain functionality overall with food.
Fatty fish is usually at the top of the list when people talk about feeding the brain, and for good reason! Salmon, trout, and sardines are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain is 60% fat; 30% of which is the omega-3 type. These powerful fats have been shown to help slow down degenerative mental diseases. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, look at those who don’t eat enough fatty fish. Those who have lower omega-3 diets have been linked to learning impairments and even depression.
Uncaffinated herbal tea is the perfect brain soother but not entirely for what you would think. As adults, we often find our sleep schedule out of sync and as a result, we cannot operate at full mental capacity. Uncaffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile, lemon balm, and linden can help relax you to sleep on time when consumed before bed time. Not only can you reset your sleep pattern with the assistance of chamomile tea, it’s even been shown to improve cognitive function when you’re awake as well.
Eggs and I are old childhood enemies due to the less than lovely smell and texture. However, eggs are rich in vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid. All have been shown to reduce levels of the dangerous compound homocysteine. This toxic amino acid has been associated with stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Eggs are also rich in choline, a key nutrient in most prenatal supplements. This nutrient helps develop our brains in the womb as well as being a critical ingredient in the creation of neurotransmitters as an adult.
Save the hate. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable (another huge source of our friend choline!) that can actually help maintain the structure of all our cell membranes. However, broccoli and friends are also abundant in sulphoraphane. This antioxidant is so good at repairing damaged cells that sulphoraphane is being studied for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Additional studies have found that this wonder antioxidant in combination with spermidine might even decrease symptoms of depression. This dynamic duo found in broccoli reduces inflammatory molecules that attack important neurotransmitters controlling mood and behavior.
If you’re a regular reader of our blog you should know that bone broth is a solve-all at this point. I regularly call it the WD-40 of the food world for good reason. I promise I won’t wax on and on this time. However, it’s important to know that your stomach is really the one in control.
Bone broth helps soothe and seal the gut from releasing harmful toxins into the bloodstream. There are less inflammatory molecules to attack the neurotransmitter if the toxins are removed. Not to mention the added protein in real bone broth can make your tummy feel a little fuller and mind and little sharper.
Maybe you’re completely content with your mental health and function. That’s completely OK with me, dearest reader! The real lesson to take away: what you eat affects how your body feels (in all parts!). I may over preach it, but it’s an important lesson to learn eventually. You wouldn’t catch me dead eating an egg, but there are always different options to get B vitamins and folic acid. You can do the same for whatever food is stopping you, but understand one thing. If you want to make a change for the better, you are the only one who can make it happen.
Do you also hate eggs? Which option was most surprising to you? Maybe you just have a great joke? Leave it in the comments and let’s chat.