Food for Thought: How to Increase Brain Power With A Mind Diet
Food Should Make You Healthy Series: Part One
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We are excited to kick off our nutrition resources with a series on how food affects different aspects of your health. Today, we will start the series by introducing how the biohacking entrepreneur views food, how food affects your brain, and the best foods for brain health.
What is Food?
I find it funny how simple the answer to this question is, yet how complex we tend to make it. For the vast majority of other organisms out there, food is nutritional support. It is simply what is needed to sustain, grow, and repair the functions of the body. Yet for most humans (myself included), pleasure often plays a larger role in what we consume than our survival instincts do.
We include many items in to our diet that contain little to no nutritional support and call it food. We need to accept these “foods” for what they are…a tradeoff between health and pleasure. I compare it to drinking alcohol. We recognize that most alcohol holds minimal health benefits and often provides more negative effects than positive, so if we consume, we consume in moderation, taking in to consideration the negative impact. Yet, with many “foods” containing minimal health benefits, we do not measure or take into consideration the negative impact, nor do we make plans to minimize or compensate for this impact.
I am not saying we should cut out comfort food completely. Any plan that does not take in to account the fact that we are human and have a psychological and emotional need for pleasure will be quick to fail for most people. Many studies show that our psychological and emotional condition affects the functions of our body just as much as the physical condition. For the beginning biohacker and busy entrepreneur, rapidly eliminating ALL comfort foods can cause extra stress, which will reduce your physical and mental potential. Instead, we will be focusing on the most effective diet changes, so that you can realize the greatest positive impact with relatively easy to implement solutions.
Read on to learn how different nutrients affect your brain, as well as get your copy of the essential list of the best brain foods, plus the worst foods for improving brain function.
Your Brain On Food
We have compiled a list of the nutrients, ingredients, and foods that have the biggest impact on your cognitive functions.
- Required for many organ functions, this vitamin is also a powerful antioxidant. It has been shown to decrease the decline in cognitive functions associated with aging and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Found in: nuts, eggs, oil based salad dressings (avoid dressings with vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, cotton seed, etc. due to being refined and heated when processed therefore reducing their benefits) , dark green, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, etc.), avocado, seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin)
- The B12 vitamin improves communication between different parts of the brain, speeding up brain functions. It also protects against the atrophy of brain cells.
- Found in: meat, seafood, eggs, milk, cheese
- In order for vitamin B12 to be effective in speeding up brain functions, you must pair it with enough B6 and folate. These two nutrients keep homocysteine quantities in check, which inhibits B12 and may trigger the death of brain cells at high levels. Recent research has also closely linked increased folate consumption with decreased risk of depression.
- Vitamin B6 found in: potatoes, bananas, oatmeal
- White potatoes have a very low nutrient density, meaning that they consist of mostly empty carbs and have little nutritional value. Opt for yams or sweet potatoes instead.
- Folate found in: leafy greens, citrus fruits, peas, and beans
- Vitamin D influences neuron growth and development, affecting learning, memory, and other important brain functions. Many studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency to depression.
- Found in: the sun! But if you can’t get outside, it is also found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.) egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms
- We use this vitamin D3 supplement year round, but especially in the winter when exposure to the sun is limited.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids
- Research has shown these healthy fats to have some of the greatest impacts on cognitive health, making foods that contain these components the best brain boosting foods available. Including healthy amounts of Omega 3 and 6 is linked to lower risk for depression, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. They assist in reducing inflammation in the brain and increasing cognitive performance. It is incredibly important to include foods containing these fats, as Omega 3 and 6 are one of the few fats that can not be produced by our body, but need to be obtained from outside sources.
- Found in: seeds, nuts, avocado, fatty fish
- Vegetarians are at high risk of Omega 3 and 6 deficiencies. If you are a vegetarian, or have trouble obtaining fresh fish, here is a great Omega 3 supplement we have been using for a while that you can pick up from Amazon. Vitalchoice is also a great company we use that ships Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon straight to our door. If you would prefer for convenience sake, they also have Sockeye Salmon oil softgels, but we will be posting some great recipes for the salmon you won’t want to miss out on.
- Iron improves the transport of oxygen throughout the body, including the brain.
- Found in: beets, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, spinach
- Flavonoids are a phytochemical (plant derived chemical) packed chock full of brain benefits. Shown to reverse the cognitive aging process, prevent brain cells from dying, improve your brain’s ability to create neurons, and enhance the neurons ability to form connections, the high presence of flavonoids in blueberries sets the standard for brain healthy foods. Flavonoids are also believed to help with preventing Alzheimer’s.
- Found in: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, spinach, apples, citrus fruits, black and green tea, even beer and wine (stay away from the large amounts of added sugar in most sweet red wines and stick to dry red wines)
- At BiohackingEntrepreneur.com, we subscribe to a ketogenic diet, which includes cutting out nearly all carbs. However, if you are going to eat carbs, make sure they are the complex carbs found in whole grains and oatmeal. Your brain’s primary fuel source is glucose, which your body breaks down from carbs. Complex carbs break down slowly, giving your brain a steady source of energy, without giving so much glucose that your body begins storing it as fat. However, if you decide to try a no carb diet for a while, your body will begin producing beta-hydroxybutyrate, a ketone that serves as an alternate source of fuel for your brain.
- If you would like to try a minimal/no carb diet, we have found this banana flour on Amazon to be a great substitute for regular flour in many recipes.
- Turmeric, a spice found in curry, is just one of the spices found to improve vascular and brain functions. Turmeric contains circumin, which research links to boosted memory, the creation of new brain cells (neurogenesis), and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s.
- Dehydration causes your brain tissue to shrink and reduces cognitive function.
Worst Brain Food
Overeating or undereating
- Too much of the wrong foods can lead you to feel tired, while too little food will bombard you with distracting hunger pains.
- Trans fats are linked with brain shrinkage, while the wrong saturated fats hurt cognitive functions and visual memory.
- Found in: pizza, cheese, processed meat, fried food, hydrogenated oils, baked goods, biscuits, and food bars
- Research has shown high sodium diets can lead to a faster cognitive decline.
- Found in: canned vegetables, soy sauce, pickled vegetables (pickles, olives, sauerkraut, etc.), ham, bacon, salted pork, packaged pasta sauce, packaged potatoes (au gratin, scalloped, etc.)
Simple Carbs/Refined Sugar
- The fructose found in refined sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, slows down the functions of our brain and memory. High sugar diets have been shown to suppress BDNF, a key growth hormone in the brain. Simple carbs contribute to a high sugar diet, as they are broken down very quickly by the body into sugar.
- Found in: high fructose corn syrup, white bread, cake, many other processed grain products
- Food containing preservatives, additives, dyes, and artificial flavors can affect cognitive functioning in different ways. Many of these substances are toxic and often overstimulate dopamine levels, leading to excess cravings. Processed food is also believed to contribute to lower IQ levels. High fat, processed food diets have been linked to damage to the hypothalamus, the section of the brain that regulates hunger, thirst, and normal body rhythms.
- Found in: processed, canned, and ready-made food
- The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) cautions against using artificial sweeteners. Aspartame specifically has been shown to lower serotonin levels in the brain, disrupting sleep, mood, appetite, and other brain functions.
- Found in: Nutrasweet, Equal, Sweet’N Low, Splenda, etc.
- We use a great tasting, 100% natural, fruit and vegetable derived alternative called Erythritol.
There are many other nutrients and ingredients that negatively and positively affect brain function, however, these are the items that have the biggest impact. This information allows you to quickly implement dietary changes to improve your brain’s potential and effectiveness.
✓ Replace Lost Brain Cells
✓ Increase your focus
✓ Higher Mental Clarty
✓ Increase Your Brain’s Energy Throughout the Day
You can download the list by clicking here
This list contains the best foods to improve brain function that are easy to add to your diet and the ingredients that you need to remove from your diet TODAY in order to reverse the aging process of your brain cells.
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