So, what to feed your brain? And thinking about it that way IS important. Every time you eat, you're feeding the brain and that food ought to be loaded with brain nutrients so that you feel amazing, energetic and clear.
1st Rule - EAT FOOD
Seems so dumb, but seriously, take a couple of hours and watch this:
Chris Kresser, and other functional medicine doctors like him, use simple testing and changes in diet, along with a few supplements to solve (SOLVE) big problems. From weight gain, to ADHD to Crohn's Disease, eating real food makes a huge difference in overall health.
Real food means as close to the source as possible, with as little packaging and as low a shelf-life as you can get. It's vegetable from the fresh veggie aisle and crackers with only 6 ingredients (that you recognize) and butter that is just butter. A dinner plate might look like this:
Processed means overcooked with added unnecessaries like excess salt, sugars in all forms and chemical stabilizers, thickeners and preservatives. These things are not food. They are toxic to the brain.
2nd Rule - CHOOSE NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
All this means is that certain foods have more nutrients (vitamins, minerals, per ounce or per pound) than other foods. Dark, leafy greens have more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce (but man, I love an iceberg wedge with blue cheese!). Organic beef liver has more nutrients than chicken breast. Whole foods have more nutrients than processed or refined foods.
3rd Rule - EAT YOUR MICRONUTRIENTS
Macronutrients are the big groupings of food we call fats, carbohydrates (starches) and proteins. Micronutrients are what we find inside those macronutrients. Small amounts of calcium, vitamin B, zinc, magnesium, iron, etc.
We are biological organisms, and that means our cells (our bodies) require specific elements to survive. The brain has needs that must be met, especially if it is working to heal itself. Here are some neuro-critical nutrients (in no particular order):
Magnesium - Almost all (80%) modern people are low in this critical compound.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Found in cold-water fish, some seeds and nuts and grass-fed animal products.
Vitamin D - Again, we have staggering rates of low vitamin D (you can eat it, but it's way smarter to get some sunshine).
Vitamin E - Found in almonds, some seeds and leafy greens, a powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin C - Found in many fruits and vegetables, critical for multiple functions in the body.
All the B vitamins - B6, B12, Thiamine, Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Folate - Again, critical for multiple functions and burned off quickly when we are under stress (ahem, that's pretty much everyone).
Saturated Fats - Yes, these fats (mostly from animals) are an important MACROnutrient for your brain, but also a precursor to the production of hormones, which are also important to brain health (I mean, what isn't important to brain health?).
Probiotics - I will post separately about the Gut-Brain Axis, but one affects the other and if you've lived a modern lifestyle and taken antibiotics, you probably need to work on your gut health.
Quality Proteins - Another MACROnutrient that needs to be not only in your diet, but sourced well. Proteins that are laden with antibiotics & chemicals from animals that were raised in a totally unnatural way are doing your brain no favors. #localfarms #localranches #healthymeat
Iron - Iron deficiency is the leading micronutirent deficiency in the world and has direct negative impacts on brain development and health. It's easy to get your iron checked if you do not know and easy to supplement (either with pills, liquid or food-based interventions).
Of course, there are many more! In fact, all required nutrients could be considered critical to brain health and your health in general - which is why eating a wide variety of foods in all categories is great for your brain! You can supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals if you feel or know you aren't getting enough of a certain compound (i.e. low magnesium is a common problem as well as low vitamin D).
If you don't know where to start do this TODAY:
Eat food that is food, that you recognize, with simple ingredients
Supplement with magnesium (pretty much everyone needs this)
That's it! One step at a time!
I'm launching a podcast about Brain Health and Performance! Listen HERE!