Foods That Are Good For The Brain and Supplements to Boost Cognition
Brain Health – Have you ever thought about it before? Better yet, have you ever done anything about it? As we get older it is inevitable that our brains will shrink in size, neurons will die and we will have some unfortunate changes. The question is, how fast is it going to change for all of us, and is there something we can do about it?
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Is there a food-brain aging connection?
Just like eating for your cardiovascular health and gut health, there is a big correlation between the foods that we eat and the impact those foods can have on the structure and the health of our brains. The brain is an energy consuming organ that uses approximately 110 calories per pound, per day. Since the average adult brain weighs about 3 pounds, it burns roughly 330 calories daily. Amazingly, this equates to approximately 20% of our energy resources! So it is fair to say that the brain needs plenty of ‘good fuel’ in order to maintain its proper functions and stay sharp throughout the day.
What types of foods boost brain health and slow brain aging?
There are certain nutrients that can help maintain a healthy brain. Omega-3 fatty acids help build and repair brain cells while antioxidants help reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The rates of these diseases are increasing dramatically in our aging population, so we should take actions now in order to avoid adding to the statistics.
- 60-80% of all dementia reported is Alzheimer’s Disease.
- 1 in every 5 people over 80, and 1 in every 3 people over 90, have dementia.
- Globally, 35.6 million people live with dementia.
- By 2050, 115.4 million are predicted to have it.
Although there is no single brain food that can protect against age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, thinking carefully about what you eat gives you the best chance of getting the nutrients you need for better cognitive health and mood.
Foods for Brain Boosting
Have you ever experienced extreme fatigue after eating a large bowl of pasta? How about alertness late at night after a protein rich meal? All of these unordinary behaviors could simply be the effects of food on your brain. The complex combinations of compounds in food can stimulate brain cells to release mood altering norepinephrine, dopamine and seretonin. We will cover all this throughout the post.
The nutritional content of of your brain (excluding the moisture) comes primarily from fats. In the remaining brain matter, you find proteins / amino acids, micronutrients and glucose. Each element has a distinct impact on the functioning, development, mood and our overall energy levels. Keeping this in mind, here is an overview of foods that are good for the brain.
The superstar FATS for your brain are omega-3 and omega-6, which are found in nuts, seeds and fatty fish. These fats are crucial to the maintenance of cellular membranes and have been linked to preventing degenerative brain conditions.
However, the long term consumption of other fats such as trans and saturated fats, margarine, processed foods, palm oil etc, may have alternative effects and compromise your brain health.
The building block nutrients know as PROTEIN, AKA Amino Acids, are responsible for growth and development and can also manipulate how we feel and behave. They can do this because they contain the precursors to our neurotransmitters; the chemical messengers that carry signals between neurons affecting things like mood, sleep, attentiveness and weight. They’re one of the reasons we might feel calm after eating pasta or more alert after a protein rich meal. Therefore it is important to consume a diet with a range of foods to maintain a balanced combination of brain messengers, and keep your mood from getting skewed in one direction or the other.
Our brains also benefit from a steady supply of MICRONUTRIENTS that can be found in most fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants provided by this food group strengthen the brain to fight off free radicals that would ultimately destroy our brain cells. Without powerful micronutrients like vitamin B-6, B-12 and folic acid, our brain will be susceptible to brain disease and mental decline. (Remember Alzheimers and Dementia) It has also been found that trace amounts of the minerals iron, copper, zinc and sodium are also fundamental to brain health and early cognitive development.
In order for the brain to efficiently transform and synthesis all of these helpful nutrients it needs fuel, and a lot of it. This type of energy comes mainly from CARBOHYDRATES -starch, sugar and fiber- that our body is able to digest down into glucose. A high-glycemic food such as white bread, causes a quick release of glucose into the blood followed by a hard dip (sugar crash) which effects our mood and attention. Whereas oats, grains and legumes, known as complex carbs, have a slower glucose release, enabling a steadier level of energy and focus. Our frontal lobes are so sensitive to drops in glucose that a change in mental function is one of the primary signals of nutrient deficiency.
Examples of Brain-Boosting Foods
For sustained brainpower, opting for a varied diet of nutrient rich foods is critical. When it comes to what you eat, your choices have direct and long-lasting effects on the most powerful organ of your body.
“no pill can make you a genius if you aren’t one.”FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON
SUPPLEMents to Support Your Brain
In addition to choosing foods that are good for the brain, additional benefits can be had from adding supplements to your regimen. Cognitive nutrition supplements are not ones that you experientially feel. They don’t give you a tingle nor a noticeable “energy boost”. However, they make your brain work better; and having your brain work smarter -not harder- is a big win. As a caveat, I can only attest to the products that I have personally tried. I follow many companies, biohackers and scientists involved in the R&D of such products. Accordingly, I enjoy testing and reviewing new ‘Brain-Boosters’ with friends and family whenever I get the chance. I can admit that taking numerous nootropic supplements can get costly. But after experiencing these products and their results, I am comfortable and willing to pay for the pills to invest in my brain, my health and my future.
Qualia Mind is probably the most advance nootropic supplement I have ever tested. This scientifically-formulated product from Neurohacker Collective has 28 ingredients including everything from mushrooms to amino acids, stimulants to choline compounds, different herbs and adaptogens.
The great thing about Qualia Mind is that it delivers instant short terms results while also delivering outstanding longer-term results. It is great for focus, tension, memory, brain health, productivity and more. One small disadvantage about Qualia Mind is that you have to take around 7 capsules a day and it is quite expensive. But other than that, my experience has been great! That is why I continue to use Qualia Mind every day.
Serotonin Brain Food from Natural Stacks is another one of my favorites. It is designed to support the body’s natural production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter essential to mental well-being. It’s got a number of pretty cool ingredients. One of the main ones is Rhodiola Rosea root with 400mg, which is a well known adaptogen and one that I have been using for many years. It also has vitamin B3, Zinc and magnesium. I look forward to trying out their MagTech Magnesium soon.
Serotonin brain food
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Alpha Brain is a product developed specifically for memory and focus. It, too, has some great ingredients and is developed by another respected brand called Onnit. They provide great content on all aspects of health and wellness. This product has been on the market for a very long time with millions of bottles sold. A possible disadvantage of Alpha Brain is that Onnit does not share the exact amount of each ingredient in the proprietary formula of their supplement. So, if you are more of an advanced biohacker, then this product may not be for you.
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Total Human is also developed by Onnit. It offers 24/7 support both for the evenings and mornings with the goal of optimal performance and optimal sleep. It is quite expensive but overall a great and very popular supplement for brain boosting.
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I feel these products have helped me to maintain my focus and productivity, so I encourage you to give them a shot, too. Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.
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