5 Foods That Will Change Your Brain
It can be quite hard to find reliable diet advice these days. There are seemingly millions of websites dedicated to telling you the TRUTH about what you should eat to be a healthier, happier, more productive person. Yet many of them seem to give you completely contradictory advice.
One website will tell you that gluten is the cause of all your problems. Another will tell you that you need to eat like a select group of people from an arbitrarily chosen point in history (here’s looking at you, Paleo people).
So how do you go about separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak?
One sure-fire way to make sure you are following the right advice is to only follow dietary advice that is backed up by robust scientific evidence.
I don’t mean eating a food because a single study on isolated mouse fat cells found that it might work in a certain way.
I mean only incorporating certain foods into your diet if you find several clinical trials attesting to their value. These trials must be conducted by reputable researchers, using human participants, and a reasonable amount of said food. The results also need to be impressive enough for us to bother making room for them in our daily caloric intake.
Those of us looking to improve our brain function are in luck. There are plenty of foods we can begin to include in our diet to help boost our mental performance.
Many of these will be familiar to you, while others will not. Some will be available in your local supermarket, others won’t be. That’s fine, as there’s no need to include them all. Throwing in one or two of these into your already balanced and healthy diet will be enough to see improvements in cognitive function.
Which ones you pick will depend on your own personal goals.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 best foods for improving the way your brain functions:
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is almost entirely saturated fat. Saturated fat has got a lot of bad press over the last few years, but this has almost certainly been overblown.
Far from being a diet demon, saturated fats are a necessary part of a healthy diet, and the medium chain triglycerides found in abundance in coconut oil are particularly useful.
The MCTs found in coconut oil are metabolized directly into ketones, which can be transported to the brain and used as fuel immediately. This makes MCTs different to other types of fat.
Since your brain opts to use ketones for fuel when you are running low on glucose, consuming cocnut oil is an excellent way to boost cognitive performance when you are eating a diet low in sugars and simple carbohydrates.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is an incredibly potent brain boosting substance.
Unlike a lot of other herbs, it actually contains more than one compound capable of enhancing cognitive performance.
Obviously, there’s the caffeine. Caffeine significantly reduces the perception of fatigue, allowing us to work harder and maintain focus for longer.
But it is the theanine in green tea that really interests us. Theanine has a synergistic action with caffeine, amplifying the benefits it gives us while tempering the side effects that can come with high caffeine consumption.
Eggs are rich in choline.
In fact, they are one of the richest sources of choline available to us. A single egg can provide as much as 146mg.
Choline is an essential part of acetylcholine, but simply eating choline doesn’t seem to affect our acetylcholine levels.
However, eating choline does help us ensure we are able to make sufficient amounts of phosphatidylcholine; a compound found in huge amounts in the brain. It is a crucial building-block of brain cells (all cells for that matter), so keeping your levels high is crucial for mental performance.
You probably expected to see salmon on this list.
Salmon is often touted as a brain booster because of its high DHA content.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid which is a vital compoent of the brain’s physical structure.
While the body can make its own DHA, consuming sufficient amounts from your diet is highly recommended. By doing so, you ensure that you have enough of the raw materials your brain needs to maintain itself and grow.
So, why have we listed mackerel and not salmon?
Well, both mackerel and salmon provide large quantities of DHA. However, as our understanding of oceanic pollution gets more refined, it’s becoming clear that larger fish are becoming increasingly contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury.
Both mackerel and salmon typically contain negligible amounts of metals such as mercury. In fact, the one species of fish you need to avoid is king mackerel, which contains huge amounts of mercury. But as a rule, smaller species of mackerel should contain smaller concentrations of mercury and other pollutants than larger species of any fish, including salmon.
Like green tea, lentils provide us with several brain benefits. However, we can’t spend too long discussing them all here.
We will instead focus on the most interesting one: folic acid.
Folic acid is absolutely essential for proper brain function. Numerous clinical trials attest to its power as a regulator of proper brain function, while deficiencies in folic acid have been linked to decreases in brain function and emotional stability.
Lentils represent one of the most concentrated sources of folic acid. Considering how good they are for general health, that’s really good news for our cognitive function.