Eating well is good for you mental health as well as you physical health. The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs and muscles do. The brain requires Goldilocks portions of energy: not too much, not too little. To optimize brainpower, it’s suggested we eat frequent but small meals throughout the day. The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream, about the amount found in a banana.
You don’t have to look very far to find the foods that help feed your brain. The following list of foods to fuel the brain will give you a brain boost to keep you focused and alert far more than a double espresso.
- Fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, powerful and versatile nutrients that are essential for a healthy mind. About 40% of the fatty acids in brain cell membranes are DHA, one of the main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil. Eat fish at least twice a week (limit albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces a week to minimize mercury exposure).
- Leafy greens. Pile on the salads, stir-fries, and side dishes with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and brussel sprouts. All are filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids, which are particularly powerful brain protectors. A well-rounded mix of colorful veggies should be a part of your day everyday.
- Avocados, oils, nuts and seeds, all contain another important antioxidant: Vitamin E. These should be included frequently at least 15 mg of E a day.
- Whole grains, like fiber-rich oatmeal, oat bran, brown rice, help stabilize blood glucose (sugar) levels, compared to refined carbs like white bread and sugary food. The body digests these simple sugars quickly, so you have a sudden energy spike. Aiming for 25 grams of fiber a day is recommended, fruits, vegetables, and beans are other good sources.
- Water- every cell in our body needs water to thrive, and brain cells are no exception. Throughout your day you should aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water. Staying hydrated is an important part of your overall health including your brain.
There are several important relationships between nutrients and brain health that are worth exploring. Having a nourishing, well-rounded diet gives our brain the best chance for avoiding disease. Schedule a meeting with a staff nutritionist to make sure you are getting all your daily nutritional needs met on a daily basis, and for tips on how you can if your not.