Although our brain only weighs two to three kilos – a small fraction of our body weight – it absorbs 25-30% of the nutrients from what we eat and drink. We are used to eating food to fuel the rest of our bodies, but our brain also needs the right nutrients in order to maximise its potential, and boost its executive functions which include emotional regulation, solving complex problems and thinking flexibly. It’s not necessary to completely change your diet, but try to set realistic goals and eat at least one of the following ‘brain foods’ each day to start off with.
- Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and vitamin B12 which will improve the health of the nervous system.
- Salmon and oily fish are great for the brain because of their Omega 3 essential fatty acids, vitamin B12 and protein, which helps brain cell growth and can prevent cognitive decline.
- Eat magnesium rich foods, such as beans, nuts or leafy green vegetables or take magnesium supplements. This will help lower levels of your stress hormone cortisol. Cashews, almonds and chia seeds are a particularly good source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and are a great alternative to a sweet snack.
- Coconut oil is a good fat which boosts cognitive function due to its high concentration of medium chain triglycerides which feed the brain directly and boost your cognition after just one dose.
- Avocado also contains good fats, which aid blood flow around the body and to the brain.
- Avoid foods high in mercury such as tuna or swordfish and all smoked foods as they can increase oxidants, which will damage brain cells.
- Use full fat dairy products, as opposed the skimmed or reduced fat alternatives. The fatty acids in full fat milk play a role in gene expression and hormone regulation.
- If you do drink regular caffeine, try switching to green tea as it contains less caffeine, and has antioxidants which are protective to brain cells.
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