As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat!”
Did you know that you have trillions of bacteria thriving in your body? Don’t let the word bacteria alarm you because we’re talking about good bacteria that can help keep your body and mind in balance. All of this “good bacteria” refers to your gut microbiome which is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes. It plays an essential role in your overall health by aiding digestion. It also affects your immune system and influences the way you feel.
In fact, your gut-brain axis is one of the most effective systems you can use to boost your mood. There are physical and chemical connections between your gut and brain. Unfortunately, the good bacteria is sometimes thrown off balance by things like stress, antibiotics, and unearthly eating.
The bottom line is that the food you consume can either help or hurt you physically, mentally, and emotionally. To eat healthily means to nourish your whole self, and the best way to accomplish this by incorporating brain food into your diet.
So, the next time hunger strikes, opt for these five brain foods that will keep your body healthy while also providing you with an extra mental boost.
Nuts and Dark Chocolate
Eating nuts, particularly walnuts, has been shown to improve brain function in children and adults. In addition, the high antioxidant level in nuts helps fight oxidative stress that contributes to cell damage and increases disease risk. If you have a nut allergy or would rather pair them with something tasty, consider boosting your brain function with dark chocolate.
While too much refined sugar is no good, a small amount of dark chocolate every day will improve heart health and brain function. Chocolate increases blood flow to the brain while also releasing “feel-good” chemicals.
Oatmeal and Blueberries
Oatmeal is rich in vitamin B6, thiamin, iron, folate, and niacin – all of which are essential for healthy cognitive function. Eating oatmeal can also help you feel fuller, longer so you won’t be hungry while trying to focus. Consider topping your oatmeal with blueberries – a refreshing superfood loaded with antioxidants.
The antioxidants in blueberries help prevent brain-cell damage, which can help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. While blueberries are not a cure for this, they can help improve memory and attention span while providing a sense of calmness.
Salmon is jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve mood, memory, and learning ability.
Omega-3 fatty acids also improve heart and brain health by reducing inflammation. Still, salmon isn’t for everyone; neither are mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna – other great sources of omega-3’s.
Some excellent non-seafood sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, kidney beans, edamame, and chia seeds.
The amino acid in turkey – tyrosine – helps people process problems and perform well under stress. Tyrosine also helps the body create dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals positively affect our alertness, mood, and sleep.
By enhancing the function of these brain chemicals, tyrosine can help improve focus, learning ability, and memory retention after a single serving!
Water and Green Tea
Many of us don’t drink enough water, especially when we’re busy with work or school. This lack of hydration can create feelings of fatigue and brain fog.
To stay focused and alert throughout each day, aim to drink at least half an ounce of water per pound that you weigh. For example, if your weight is 150, aim to drink at least 75 ounces of water. Bring a reusable water bottle with you daily, such as half gallon one that helps keep you on track.
Another beverage to consider as an afternoon pick-me-up is green tea. This energy-boosting beverage improves brain function while also protecting the body from free radical damage. Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid, that work together to improve attention and memory and reduce anxiety.
If you make a point of incorporating these brain foods into your diet regularly, you’ll create a sustainable food regimen that will keep your mind and body thriving.