As a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and Neurofeedback Clinician, I love to nudge my clients into healthier eating habits, especially when it comes to protecting their brains. Who likes living with brain fog, memory lapses, poor attention, and focus? But that’s exactly what the SAD (Standard American Diet) diet leads to an inflamed brain, leaving you feeling exhausted, with little or no motivation to do anything. Sugar, processed foods, gluten grains, and damaged man-altered fats lead not only to diabetes in the body but can also mess up your blood sugars in the brain.
Many doctors now consider Alzheimer's to be Type III diabetes or diabetes of the brain. Crazy to think you may actually slowly be poisoning your noggin (as my boss likes to say), with your food choices!
Changing your diet is hard, but instead of thinking of having to eliminate foods, first focus on adding brain-healthy foods into your diet. I’m going to give you a list of brain superfoods, and I challenge you to add just 1, maybe 2 each day. And no, you don’t have to run to the ends of the earth to get these foods! Check out your local supermarket, but go organic as much as you can!
1. Wild Caught Salmon
Salmon is rich in the healthy fats called Omega 3 fatty acids, typically DHA and EPA. These wonderful fats serve as building blocks for the brain but are also associated with a decrease in inflammation, depression, and cognitive impairment. They are my first go-to when I see a client with high inflammation levels on their brain map. We can also test for a person’s Omega status through a simple blood prick. Check out our Omega Quant Plus test.
Salmon also contains selenium, antioxidants, potassium, and B12. So instead of your normal fish fry, make Friday night Salmon night!
2. Wild Organic BlueBerries
They provide powerful antioxidants galore! These beautiful berries have been shown to reduce the risk of memory decline by preventing age-related degenerative processes in the brain. Research indicates that blueberries may have beneficial effects on spatial learning and memory abilities, reducing your risk for Alzheimer’s. Go on, throw a cup of organic wild blueberries into your breakfast smoothie. They are readily available in Costco and Trader Joe’s.
3. Organic Leafy Green Veggies and Herbs
I know, not your favorite, but these are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and should adorn your meals daily. These are packed with brain-healthy vitamins and minerals. When it comes to the brain, reducing inflammation is your number one goal, and that’s exactly what greens do.
One of my heroes is the humble cabbage, which protects the gut and bowel lining and thus supports the brain. But whatever green you like, whether it’s kale, broccoli (broccoli sprouts are the ultimate superhero), spinach, arugula, bok choi, chard, parsley, or cilantro, chow down!!!
4. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are brain-boosting powerhouses. They make the most perfect snack! I like to mix a large variety of nuts and seeds, which I then store in glass jars in the freezer for easy use and exact portioning. I use a small glass container which I fill with my nut mix and carry it with me for a healthy brain snack. But you can also throw them on salads, into shakes, make pesto, or use them as nut/seed butter.
Nuts contain brain-healthy fats and proteins. They protect the brain, improve cognitive performance, and can even lower blood sugar levels. Some of the superstars include macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pecans. Just look, walnuts actually look like the brain!
Avocados are rich in folate, a B vitamin necessary for making neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, that help you feel good! Not only do they decrease the risk of depression, but they also promote cellular detoxification and ensure proper nervous system development. The lutein in avocados improves cognition, spatial working memory, and problem-solving skills. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which facilitate healthy blood flow throughout the body and brain.
6. Fermented Foods
With the huge rise in probiotic sales, most people are now aware of the importance of good bacteria and the connection to overall health. Did you know that many refer to the gut as the second brain? You can’t have a healthy brain if you have gut troubles and a simple place to start shifting your gut health is by consuming fermented foods naturally teeming with good bacteria: raw fermented sauerkraut (found in the refrigerated section), kimchi, and kefir. These foods lead to clearer thinking and improve mood, depression, and anxiety. They also kick immune function up a notch! If the thought of eating something sour does your head in, start with kefir. We sell fabulous coconut kefir in our store, made right here in lovely Wisconsin. You and the kids will love it!
Just 2 tablespoons a day is a good place to start.
7. Prebiotic Foods
In order to keep your gut bacteria happy, you need to feed them, so they hang out with you! Turns out, they love fiber-rich vegetables, such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, apples, asparagus, leeks, and yes, greens.
So what do you think? Can befriend some of these foods? Start with one a day and see where you can go, and just maybe, they will displace some of the junk foods you’ve been eating.
If you would like to know more about how to improve your brain health and would like to measure your brain inflammation with a QEEG brain map, please contact me at 262 251 2929. Let’s get your brain working better!