We know that how we eat can affect our bodies, but what we put in our mouths also affects our mood, the brain’s energy, our memory, and even our ability to handle stress, complex problems, or simple daily tasks. The brain is a picky eater too, demanding a constant supply of glucose and not much else to keep it running. Neurons don’t store this basic sugar like other cells, so they are always hungry and rather needy.
We obtain this fuel from the carbohydrates we eat such as in fruits, vegetables, and grains. The brain may run on sugars, but this doesn’t mean we can eat junk food. Refined sugars, like table sugar or high fructose corn syrup, aren’t safe options since overly high blood glucose levels, or sugar spikes, do damage to cells throughout the body, including the brain, and can literally starve our hungry neurons.
Improve Your Memory Naturally and Boost Brain Power
Avocado – Avocados are a source of monounsaturated fats, omega 3, and omega 6 fatty acids. These increase blood flow to the brain, lower cholesterol, and aid in the absorption of antioxidants. Avocados also come with many antioxidants of their own, including vitamin E, which protect the body and the brain from free radical damage. They are also a good source of potassium and vitamin K—both protect the brain from the risk of stroke.
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that the body uses for energy, leaving glucose for the brain. It also seems to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Anything that benefits the heart and circulation also benefits the brain. Coconut oil acts as an anti-inflammatory as well and has been linked to helping prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Blueberries – These berries are antioxidant powerhouses, protecting the brain from oxidative damage and stress that lead to premature aging, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. The flavonoids in blueberries also improve the communication between neurons, improving memory, learning, and all cognitive function, including reasoning, decision making, verbal comprehension, and numerical anility. Other dark berries are good for the brain too, like blackberry, açai, and goji berries.
Broccoli – Broccoli is a superfood for the whole body. It is rich in calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, beta-carotene, iron, fiber, and vitamin K. These nutrients protect against free radicals, keep blood flowing well, and remove heavy metals that can damage the brain.
Chia – Chia seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and both soluble and insoluble fiber. These powerful little seeds help control blood glucose levels, are anti-inflammatory, aid in hydration, and also contain many antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate – The flavonols in chocolate improve blood vessel function, which in turn improves cognitive function and memory. Chocolate also improves mood, can ease pain, and is full of antioxidants.
Nuts – Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, are extremely good for the brain and nervous system. They are great sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Vitamin E has been shown to prevent many forms of dementia by protecting the brain from free radicals, and it improves brain power. Nuts contain some anti-nutrients, like phytic acid. Since we consume a relatively small amount of nuts, this isn’t a huge problem, but they are far healthier if you soak them overnight (about 8 hours) before eating them.
Quinoa – Like beans, legumes, and whole grains, quinoa is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber to balance blood sugar while providing the essential glucose the brain craves. Quinoa is also a good source for iron to keep the blood oxygenated and B vitamins to balance mood and protect blood vessels. It is also gluten free for those with sensitivities to this protein. And, like most seeds, grains, and nuts, contains phytic acid. Quinoa also contains saponins; it should be soaked overnight before cooked.
Red Cabbage – Red cabbage is full of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that benefits the brain and heart. Red cabbage also has glucosinolates, compounds that fight cancer.
Rosemary – Rosemary has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function with its scent alone. It improves blood flow to the brain, improves mood, and acts as an antioxidant. Rosemary is also a powerful detoxifier, fights cancer, boosts energy, and combats aging of the skin.
Spinach – Spinach can prevent or delay dementia. The nutrients in spinach prevent damage to DNA, cancer cell growth, and tumor growth, but also slow the effects of aging on the brain. Spinach is also a good source of folate and vitamin E.
Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds and other seeds, like pumpkin, contain a rich mix of protein, omega fatty acids, and B vitamins. These seeds also contain tryptophan, which the brain converts into serotonin to boost mood and combat depression. Sprouts and microgreens of these seeds are even healthier.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes contain lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant that combats dementia and may improve mood balance too.
Whole Grains – Whole grains are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and some omega 3 fatty acids that shield the heart and brain from damaging sugar spikes, cholesterol, blood clots, and more. Grains also contain B vitamins that have an effect on blood flow to the brain and mood. Whole grains should be soaked, fermented, sprouted, or grown as microgreens to unlock all their nutritional power and minimize any anti-nutrients.