Brain Foods

Brain Foods

In this post we’re going to look at brain foods and memory and the best way to incorporate them into your day to day.

Diet and brain function

It’s known to all that our brain and nervous system in general is a powerful machine that consumes a lot of resources.

Although there’s still a tendency to believe that our brains and their abilities are independent of what we do or eat, we have an increasing weight of evidence that warns us that the opposite is true.

There is no brain independent of our environment.

Diet and brain function

The same negative habits that are killing us and that affect our lungs, heart or kidneys, affect the brain.

However, in nature there are foods that, due to their nutrient profile, are particularly interesting for our brain and the maintenance of its health and function.

What is the main brain foods?

The brain is an organ with an amazing adaptive capacity, a fact that has brought us to where we are today.

This means there’s no single food or food group without which our brain cannot survive.

To the question, What’s the best food for the brain?, logically, there is no answer.

Our biology has taken it upon itself to perfect the way we feed our brain, even in the most inhospitable and frugal scenarios possible.

In terms of nutrients, the main one, being the most frequently used by our CNS, is glucose.

This has been misinterpreted for a long time, assuming our brain “needs sugar” to survive, or to function optimally.

No, no and no.

Glucose and the Brain

You still hear things being said like “neurons die if you don’t give them sugar”.

Of course, sugar didn’t appear in the middle of the jungle hanging from the trees in the form of sugars. It was intrinsically present in a limited range of foods and in much smaller quantities than today.

In conclusion, our brain needs glucose, not sugar (sugar = fructose + glucose).

But we have to make three very important clarifications:

  • Said glucose can be obtained after digestion and absorption of many healthy foods: tubers, other vegetables or fruits.
  • Even if our environment can’t provide us with glucose, our body has the ability to generate glucose endogenously through neoglucogenesis.
A human being can survive perfectly without taking a gram of exogenous glucose.
  • If there’s low availability of exogenous glucose, our brain has the ability to use an alternative fuel, ketone bodies.
In addition, it seems these molecules benefit our brain in rather unique ways.

10 great brain foods

Among the brain foods best for memory we can find the following list:

Eggs

The egg is a micronutrient bomb for the brain: vitamins of group B (B12, B9, B6), choline (precursor of Acetylcholine), Zeaxanthin and Lutein (in the yolk), and DHA.

Olive oil

Its high polyphenols content, such as oleocantal, makes it a great ally for the brain.

Meat

Despite the division of opinions regarding meat, we can’t ignore the fact that it’s an important food for our brain thanks to its Zinc, B12, creatine and omega 3 content.

meat is a good food for the brain

That said, yes, we do have to take into account the origin of the meat and its preparation.

For example, barbecueing generates problematic compounds such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have a negative impact on our health.

Cranberries

These red fruits are a natural nootropic.

Its most potent polyphenol is anthocysin, which crosses the blood-brain barrier and generates more BDNF.

Comsuming cranberries improves cognitive function, memory, mood and cerebral blood flow.

Oily fish

The DHA content, a type of omega-3, along with Zinc, Selenium, Iodine and vitamin D, makes oily fish one of the best food for brains.

If your concern is mercury, choose fish with less mercury: sardines, anchovies, herring, bonito, salmon, hake, trout.

Ultra omega-3

Or you could even go for Omega-3 supplements.

Dark chocolate

Eating dark chocolate is associated with better cerebral blood flow and lower levels of anxiety.

But skip the “chocolate sugar” you’ll find in most supermarkets.

That’s to say, go for at least 80% cocoa chocolate.

Coffee

A reasonable consumption of coffee (100-200 mg/day) seems to protect against cognitive decline.

Brain Coffee

That said, coffee dependence, increasingly frequent, can end up creating more problems and interfering with the quality of your rest.

Spices

The world of spices is exciting, as each one brings very specific properties.

In terms of the brain, the most beneficial are turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.

Tumeric powder by EssentialSeries

Tumeric Powder by EssentialSeries.

Green tea

L-theanine is an amino acid present in green tea that exerts a curious effect: it increases your concentration without stimulating you excessively.

And which foods improve memory and concentration?

All the foods on the list above can, in the long run, improve your memory and concentration.

Caffeine and Theanine

But if you need a more immediate effect, I recommend the winning combination of Caffeine + L-Theanine.

This will give you with a very pleasant feeling of “concentrated calm” that will help with cognitively demanding tasks.

Another “must eat” is dark chocolate as a snack

You’ll get used to its bitter taste, think of it as a “cognitive pill”.

Some of the foods listed, such as cranberries, are quite expensive (and even more off-season).

So my recommendation is to buy them frozen and add them to porridges, smoothies, yogurts, etc. What do you thinkof this smoothie?

More tips for protecting your brain health

Although in this post we’ve focused on food for your brain, the complexity of the organ benefits from many other actions too, which we’ll discuss in other posts if you’d like.

Here are some recommendations for looking your brain health:

Try to really connect with people

Loneliness and social isolation are a powerful toxic to the brain.

I say ‘really’ connect because the contact you get through social media tends to have a more negative than positive impact on the brain.

Get moving

The muscular system is nothing more than an extension or “prolongation” of the nervous system.

Movement

Much of the power of our brain is relegated to motor control.

If you know the principle “use it, or lose it”, you’ll understand that moving your body is the best thing you can do to not “lose” your brain.

Find a challenge point

Our brain evolved in an environment of uncertainty and with a degree of ever-present risk.

Find challenging and enriched environments or try challenging yourself with something like an obstacle course, for exampe.

Take care with chronic stress

Another intangible toxic present in most households is chronic stress.

Invest in developing skills and habits that limit that enemy.

Focus on the present

Focussing on the present is another precious skill to have in your locker.

It won’t just make you a much more effective person, it’ll make you happier too.

Related Entries

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  • How does intermittent fasting affect the brain? Have a look at our answer.
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About Borja Bandera
Borja Bandera
Borja Bandera is a young doctor who focuses on nutrition, exercise and metabolism, he combines his professional activity with his vocational dissemination and research.
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