Feed Your Brain - What is essential brain food?

We all pretty much know the unhealthy things that are not recommended for us to eat, right?  The list is the same for your brain, in general, as for the rest of your body.  I also want to extend the “no-no” list to include anything we breathe into our bodies or introduce into our blood stream. Such substances greatly affect your brain and not only in the mellow, fun way temporarily, but permanently in a not-so-cool kind of way over time.  Repeated use of mind altering substances alters your brain permanently. Even cigarettes.

So what should you be putting in your body to boost your brain power?  The three key essentials to keep your brain healthy and keep your mental processes sharp are nutritious food, water, and oxygen.  Simple to say.  Harder to do.

An intelligent diet full of brain food would be heavy on the proteins, complex carbohydrates, and good fats.  Proteins are essential to make neurotransmitters which are vital for thinking processes. Carbohydrates break down into glucose which is the brain’s primary source of energy.  You are aiming for a steady supply here.

The brain is more than 60% fat, brain cells are covered by a myelin sheath which is 75% fat, and fats play a crucial role as important messengers in your brain.  Brain friendly fats would be the omega-3 fatty acids such as found in fish, nuts, and flax seed.  Omega-3s can easily be added to your diet in a daily fish oil supplement.  An excellent book telling about diet and supplements specifically for improving the brain is Gary Null’s Mind Power: Rejuvenate Your Brain and Memory Naturally.

According to Null, good-for-your-brain foods are:  avocados, beans, lean beef, bran, broccoli, brown rice, blueberries, chicken, eggs, flax seed, fruit, greens, nuts, oatmeal, salmon, soybeans, spinach, tuna, turkey, walnuts, wheat germ, and yogurt.

Your brain loves water.  Water makes up 83% of your blood and is the transport system to the brain, making the needed deliveries of nutrients and taking away toxins.  Studies have shown that most people are permanently partially dehydrated.  If you’re already thirsty, you’re in this group.  This means your brain is working considerably below its potential.  I don’t know about you, but I surely don’t need that.

Thirdly, our brains just need us to breathe calm, deep breaths.  Easier said than done.  We are taught to hold our stomachs in and breathe out of the top of our lungs for vanity.  Relax. Let it all hang out.  A little pot belly here is OK.  You want to breathe slowly and deeply into your diaphragm and even pooch out your stomach.

Digestion pulls oxygen away from your brain and diverts it to your stomach.  So you don’t want to eat a big meal right before a task where you want all your brain power available.   Cardiovascular exercise increases the oxygen in your blood and oxygenates your brain which is yet another reason to add to the list to exercise regularly.

I’m going try to do better feeding my brain this week and giving it better sleep and oxygen.  Hope you do too!

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reneerk/

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