When analyzing brain foods, one of the most important things to look at besides toxicity (foreign to our bodies, i.e. artificial) is the glycemic index. If you don’t already know how important it is, start paying attention to the glycemic index (GI) of food and observe how you feel in relation to this one marker. Our brain thrives on a steady stream of glucose in the blood stream and when that steady stream isn’t so steady, the brain (as well as the rest of the body) suffers with irritability, depression and sluggishness to name a few.
Pastas, breads, and white potatoes are the worst offenders when it comes to upsetting the blood sugar and depleting nutrients.
Before we get to the good foods, check out some more of the “bad” ones. Artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, sugary foods and drinks, hydrogenated fats, nicotine, and alcohol are the worst “non-food” foods. The sad news about alcohol is that it doesn’t even need to be ingested…it kills brain cells if it is just smelled!
Did you know that both the Air Force’s magazine, “Flying Safety”, and the Navy’s magazine, “Navy Physiology”, published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame? The methanol in aspartame is found to build up in the tissues causing a potential cumulative effect. It is also reported to increase the likelihood of birth defects. Pilots have linked the use of aspartame to seizures and vertigo and most flight agencies warn against its usage. It is also reported to disrupt the chemical makeup of the brain and lower the levels of serotonin – which could affect sleep, appetite, mood, and behavior. Aspartame (and other chemical sweeteners) disrupt amino acid metabolism, hormonal equilibrium and nerve functions, to name a few. Read more here.
So that’s the bad news, and although there is MUCH more to be said about those “non-foods”, that is a subject for a whole other post. Here are some foods that you can incorporate into your diet that will enhance your cognitive function and decrease brain fog. When you eat the right foods you are able to see things more clearly, become more confident and overall add quality to your life and the life of your valuable brain through balancing your hormones, and nourishing your brain’s functions.
The top brain foods include:
Salmon and other fatty fish
Cacao – this is the raw bean. Chocolate has sugar (read about sugar above)
Green tea, especially Matcha
Acai berry and blue berry
Avocados – great fatty acids
Brewer’s yeast (great source of RNA)
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and all leafy greens
Eggs- great source of protein and readily used cholesterol (yes, the whole egg!)
Seeds and Nuts: flaxseed (freshly ground), walnuts, chia, pumpkin, etc.
Also, be sure to incorporate all of the colors that call to us from nature. Those colors, called bioflavonoids, are what gives wine and pomegranate so much value – they’re loaded with antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in the brain and in the body.
To break it down very simply: Get enough omega 3 fatty acids, plenty of protein (especially from non-meat sources), a variety of colors, and don’t forget plenty of PURE water (avoid unfiltered tap water). These are the ingredients that help people maintain a high quality of life and great mental clarity and cognitive function well into a ripe old age.