Feeding your brain the right food isn’t just about preventing a disease in the future. Giving your brain the fuel it needs to function optimally may also improve your current cognitive function and creativity, making you more productive at work and at home.
Your brain needs the right fuel to nourish neurons, boost production of neurotransmitters and protect against damage and degeneration.
Unfortunately, some popular nutritional fads may have placed you at greater risk for damage to your neurons, without the additional heart health benefits and proponents of these dietary changes promised.
Fats as Fuel to Your Brain
There are two types of fuel your body and brain can use to convert into energy. Either metabolized carbohydrates or fats may supply your brain and body with the energy it requires to survive.
Although your brain can use both, there is evidence to suggest that the metabolic product of fats, or ketones, will help restore and renew neurons, even after damage has started.
A primary source of these ketones are medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are found mostly in coconut oil, grass-fed and organic dairy products. These triglycerides are digested like carbohydrates, entering your bloodstream more quickly but without the release of insulin associated with carbohydrates.
Fats and proteins are essential to your survival but your body could happily do without non-fiber carbohydrates. The only carbs you really need are fresh vegetables, which are a great source of gut- and health-promoting fiber.
Low Fat Fad May Have Contributed to a Dramatic Rise in Dementia
Researchers have found a shared mechanism of pathogenesis between people suffering from metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s. Individuals with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and the reverse is also true.
By reducing the number of healthy fats you eat, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets can essentially starve your brain cells, prevent effective detoxification and diminish the structural components necessary for cognition, memory and learning.
Nutritional ketosis has had modest beneficial effects on cognitive outcomes in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduce Oxidative Stress With Blueberries
While ketones provide your brain cells with effective fuel and are neuroprotective, research was presented that supported the use of blueberries in the prevention and potential treatment of cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s.
Blueberries may reduce your potential from developing dementia as the antioxidants collect in greater concentration in areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
More Benefits From Healthy Fats and Blueberries
Nutritional ketosis improved the memory of participants who had mild cognitive impairment. Blueberry supplementation also improved the memory of older adults.
Reduced Frequency and Intensity of Migraine Headaches
Low net carbohydrate or ketogenic diets had an influence on migraine headaches. One study demonstrated a reduction in frequency and in medication usage in the 52 participants in the experimental group, while there was no reduction in the group using a low calorie diet.
Recovery After Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Glucose can hinder the repair and recovery of neurons following a traumatic brain injury. In this study, researchers were able to severely reduce or eliminate carbohydrates from the diets of patients using a ketogenic diet and thus controlled blood glucose concentrations.
Protection Against Aging and DNA Damage
High levels of antioxidants in blueberries may help reduce free radical damage, important in the development of diseases such as cancer. One study demonstrated a reduction in damage by 20 percent.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Blueberries have demonstrated a unique ability to help control your blood glucose levels and improve your insulin sensitivity, both important in the protection of your neurons and in preventing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Foods to Feed Your Brain and Improve Your Cognitive Function
These little powerhouses are filled with healthy fat, energy and flavor. The nutrients in avocados are important to your brain and skin, and help stabilize your blood sugar. They are part of my diet every day.
High in antioxidants, they protect your brain from neurodegeneration. They are packed with flavor and vitamins. Balance the natural sugars in blueberries by increasing your fiber intake to reduce your net carbs (grams of carbohydrates minus grams of fiber equals net carbs).
High levels of vitamin K and choline in broccoli help protect your brain. Add florets raw to your salad, or steam your broccoli spears for a maximum of three to four minutes to optimize the sulforaphane content.
While extremely low in calories, celery is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Clean a bunch and place in a bowl of clean, fresh water in your fridge to make them last for well over a week.
Excellent to heal your gut and reduce your symptoms of leaky gut. This in turn protects your brain from the increased inflammatory process that results from bacteria and food leaking into your bloodstream.
Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil
Not all olive oil is created equally, and fraud is commonplace when it comes to olive oil. Look for third-party validated extra-virgin, cold pressed oils to boost your intake of polyphenols. These powerful antioxidants may improve your learning and memory as well as help to reverse the signs of aging and neuron damage in your brain. Olive oil degrades rapidly at high heat, so add the oil to your salads or vegetables after cooking.
These little gems are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A handful each day may help improve your cognitive skills. Eat walnuts as a snack in the afternoon or as an addition to your salad.
This ancient root is one of the most powerful nutrients found in nature. Turmeric is one of the spices that gives curry a distinctive flavor and the chemical curcumin in turmeric has anti-oxidant effects on your body.
Carnosic acid found in rosemary protects your brain against free radical damage that triggers neurodegenerative changes. Add the herb to your favorite chicken recipe or spice up your salad with a few sprigs.
Organic, Pastured Egg Yolks
What was once heralded as the reason behind heart disease, now has been vindicated. Research demonstrates egg yolks not only aren’t bad for your health but actually are high in choline, necessary for fetal brain development.
This MCT is one of the foundational foods you may use to feed your brain, reduce inflammation and prevent memory loss. It does wonders for your skin and is a natural antibacterial as well.
These are one of the most nutritious root vegetables you can include in your diet. Forget the beets from your childhood. Today beets may be incorporated into mustards and salads or combined into a very tasty beet, goat cheese and walnut tart. They are high in antioxidants and the natural nitrates boost blood supply to your brain and improve performance.
Nourishing your body with the right food can change your brain! How amazing is that?