How to eliminate brain fog and fuel your brain.
The brain is the most important organ of your body. It constitutes about 2.5% of your body mass but consumes more than 20% of all energy generated by your body. Human brains grow three times its size in the first year of life. It continues to grow gradually until you’re about 18 years old.
The brain controls your major organs, holds our memories, allows our limbs to coordinate with our senses, controls digestion, and also the way we think and feel.
So, the optimum condition of the most important organ in our body is absolutely essential. Fueling your body with nutrient rich foods will help you think clearer, perform stronger, perceive results better, and increase your decision-making capabilities. It will prevent production of hormones that induce stress, anxiety, negativity, and more. Eating nutrient rich foods lets you stay in the desired state of mind by producing the right hormones.
To understand what food needs to be fed to the brain, let’s look at some scientific analysis. <
What is your brain composed of?
The main constituent of all organs in your body is water. That’s right! The brain consists of about 73% water by mass. A dehydrated brain consists mainly of fatty acids known as lipids. The remaining brain matter is made up of a variety of constituents like proteins, amino acids, micronutrients and glucose.
Now, of course the brain is much more than just its constituents, but every one of these components have a distinct varied impact of your functioning, development, mood and energy. Of the fats needed by your brain, the superstars are Omega-3 and Omega-6. These essential fatty acids which are known to reverse the degenerative effects on the brain must be contained in our diets. White these fats are really good for your brain, consumption of other fats like trans fats, polysaturated fats will compromise your brain health on the long run.
Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life and they dictate how we feel and behave. How do they do this?
The neural communication is enhanced by amino acids as they act as precursors to neurotransmitters which is a chemical substance released at the end of neuron’s fibers when it receives a nerve impulse. Amino acids also have considerable effect on your sleep, attentiveness and also your weight.
The other components combine in different complex formations and stimulate the brain to release the much needed mood controlling hormones like norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Since it is hard for the amino acids to reach all the brain cells, it is recommended to have a diet rich in different kinds of amino acids.
Antioxidants help the brain to fight free radicals saving its cells enabling your brain to function well for a longer period of time. In fact, our brain is susceptible to deterioration if our food does not contain important micronutrients like folic acid, Vitamins B6 and B12. Also, metals like Iron, Copper, Zinc, Sodium, etc. are essential for cognitive development and functioning of your brain.
To effectively process, transform and synthesize these valuable nutrients, your brain needs energy and lots of it. This energy is given by the glucose in your blood.The way you control glucose supply to your brain is very essential. Your frontal lobes are super sensitive to glucose fluctuations and effect your mood and feelings. Carbohydrates that release glucose slowly and steadily for a long time are the best to consume and make you feel energetic all day long.
Carbohydrates that are converted into glucose instantly (i.e. sugars, banana, white bread, rice, etc.) will spike the glucose level in your blood giving your brain a boost of energy for a short period of time and when the supply drops, you are left feeling tired, lazy, dizzy and foggy.
Now, enough of the science.
What are the best and worst foods you can eat to fulfill your brain’s needs?
Here are some good foods for the brain:
1. Water: Yeah! That’s right. Staying hydrated is one of the most essential part of good brain functioning as 73% of your brain is composed of water.
2. Oily Fish: Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons. Ex: Freshly caught wild fish, sardines, etc. Avoid bigger fish as they accumulate mercury which is detrimental for overall health of our bodies.
3. Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy unsaturated fats, antioxidants and also vitamin E. Specially for older folks out there, consuming at least 2 snacks of nuts is an absolute must since the Vitamin E will protect the cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Ex: Almonds, Walnuts, Peanuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds, Mustard seeds, Pumpkin seeds, etc.
4. Whole grains: Whole grains contain slow release carbohydrates which give you prolonged energy. Also,whole grains contain different vitamins and fibers. Ex: Legumes, Oats, etc.
5. Dark Chocolate: High in antioxidants, dark choclate will help the brain fight free radicals.
6. Berries: Many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants which will reduce inflammation and free radicals, help communication between brain cells, help form new connections between brain cells and also fight free radicals, ensuring long life of your brain. Ex: Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, etc.
7. Vegetables and Leafy Greens: Consuming leafy greens and veggies is a no brainer. Veggies and leafy greens are essential for good functioning of almost all of your organs as they give you most micronutrients you need. Specially, avocados and broccoli are known to be the best foods for the brain. Ex: Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Sprouts, artichokes, carrots, turnips, beets, etc.
8. Eggs: Eggs are a great source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Folic acid, etc. Consume in moderation as egg yolks contain high amounts of cholesterol. I personally prefer to consume organic eggs.
Eat these foods and improve your cognition, attention, focus, creativity, energy and overall a highly improved and empowered life.
Now, we know what are the foods to be added into our diet to enhance brain health but WATCH OUT for these next foods which can harm your brain and negatively effect your life. This list will include many of your favorites!
The WORST foods for your brain:
1. Sugar: While getting enough sugar is very essential, we consume much more than what is required. You should get all your sugar needs for the day just from the fruits you consume. Sugar is a fast release carb and spikes glucose levels in your blood causing a rush which will only last for an hour or two and will leave you with low energy or craving more sugar which will lead to obesity. Specially cut out sugary drinks as they contain super high levels of sugar along with carbon dioxide which is not good for the brain.
2. Dairy: Research shows that dairy is the key culprit in the diet of Alzheimer’s patients. Dairy also weakens our bones. Dairy contains high levels of trans fats which is detrimental to your brain health. The best alternative would be to switch to almond milk and consume cheese in moderation.
3. Alcohol and Drugs: While having a drink a day could be really good for your heart, consuming excess alcohol effects your brain in the short term and the long term. I am sure you know the short term effects but alcoholics are known to have reduced brain matter and decreased cognitive capabilities. The effect of alcohol abuse in teenagers can also be particularly damaging, as the brain is still developing. Teenagers who drink alcohol have abnormalities in brain structure, function and behavior, compared to those who don’t.
4. Refined Carbohydrates: Again, these carbohydrates have super high glycemic index and cause a glucose spike in your blood. Research has shown that just a single meal every day with a high glycemic load can impair memory in both children and adults.
5. Foods High in Trans Fats: Artificial trans fats can be found in cheese, cream, frosting, cakes, cookies, snacks, etc. Studies have found that when people consume higher amounts of trans fats, they tend to have an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, poorer memory, lower brain volume and cognitive decline.
Bonus: Food is just one main component of maintaining brain health. To improve your overall health and the brains capabilities, working out regularly, playing brain games to increase the curving of your brain matter, practicing mindfulness or yoga, meditating and getting a sound sleep is recommended.