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.
The same negative habits that are killing us and that affect our lungs, heart or kidneys, affect the brain.
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.
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.
- If there’s low availability of exogenous glucose, our brain has the ability to use an alternative fuel, ketone bodies.
10 great brain foods
Among the brain foods best for memory we can find the following list:
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.
Its high polyphenols content, such as oleocantal, makes it a great ally for the brain.
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.
That said, yes, we do have to take into account the origin of the meat and its preparation.
These red fruits are a natural nootropic.
Its most potent polyphenol is anthocysin, which crosses the blood-brain barrier and generates more BDNF.
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.
Or you could even go for Omega-3 supplements.
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.
A reasonable consumption of coffee (100-200 mg/day) seems to protect against cognitive decline.
That said, coffee dependence, increasingly frequent, can end up creating more problems and interfering with the quality of your rest.
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.
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.
But if you need a more immediate effect, I recommend the winning combination of Caffeine + L-Theanine.
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).
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.
The muscular system is nothing more than an extension or “prolongation” of the nervous system.
Much of the power of our brain is relegated to motor control.
Find a challenge point
Our brain evolved in an environment of uncertainty and with a degree of ever-present risk.
Take care with chronic stress
Another intangible toxic present in most households is chronic stress.
Focus on the present
Focussing on the present is another precious skill to have in your locker.
- Top Brain Supplements: Go now.
- How does intermittent fasting affect the brain? Have a look at our answer.