I hope you’ve been able to add in the 5 brain healthy food and drink tips in my earlier blog ‘What Brain Healthy Foods Should I Be Eating? Part 1’. Here are 5 more simple tips to add into your routine to boost the health of your ‘brain baby’:
6. Have some chocolate
Yes, you read that right - Chocolate is officially a brain healthy food! But make it dark chocolate with (70% cacao content or higher). Dark chocolate contains Phenylethylamine (PEA) which is a hormone-like substance that occurs naturally in your brain and body. It functions as a neurotransmitter that gives you heightened focus, attention, goal-directed behaviour, and task-completion. It also has numerous other health benefits and is one of my favourite snacks!
7. Snack on more seeds and nuts
Most Western, modern diets are severely lacking in minerals and trace nutrients which are needed for optimal nerve conduction and neuro-transmitter formation. Seeds and nuts contain minerals that are essential for better brain function such as magnesium (pumpkin seeds, almonds), zinc (pecans, sunflower seeds, cashews), alpha-linoleic acid (walnuts, pecans) and selenium (brazil nuts, sunflower seeds).
8. Eat eggs
Boiled, scrambled, poached, fried…. Eggs are just great for the brain! They contain protein and Omega-3 fatty acids as well as some trace nutrients that are often lacking in modern diets including tryptophan and choline. Tryptophan is involved in the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter which plays a role in the regulation of anxiety and mood. Eggs are also a source of choline, which is a key chemical required for the brain to produce acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter that research has shown can improve brain function. For these reasons, eggs, however you eat them, definitely count as brain healthy foods.
9. Eat more brain healthy fats
Did you know that the brain is made up of approximately 60% fat? Every neuron is insulated in fatty tissue called the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath helps the electrical impulses of brain cells transmit faster. The type and quality of fats we consume are important for protecting, repairing and restoring brain health. Good types of fat include mono-unsaturated fats, unprocessed saturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) as they provide the building blocks for neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine which is vital for learning and memory. Some great sources of brain healthy fats include avocado, unprocessed virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, eggs, salmon and oily fish (mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna).
10. Add in fermented food and drinks
Keeping your microbiome healthy starts in the digestive tract. One way of keeping your gut microbiome healthy is through consuming live bacteria (probiotics) and prebiotics from fermented foods and drinks. There is an intimate connection between your gut and your brain. Some people even refer to the gut as the second brain. While this isn’t strictly true, recent research has shown that eating fermented foods may increase levels of a chemical in the brain called GABA that controls anxiety.
So why not try adding in some of these fermented brain healthy foods and drinks to your day to day consumption: sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, natto, miso, tempeh, kombucha (my kids and I love this fizzy drink!), kefir and natural yoghurt (choose yoghurts labelled as containing ‘live and active cultures’). They’re generally cheap, easily found and can even be made at home. I made my first batch of sauerkraut at home during the COVID-19 lockdown and couldn’t believe how easy it was to make.
These simple and quite frankly, delicious foods and drinks, can easily become a part of your normal lifestyle. Give them a try and let me know which of my 10 tips was your favourite! If you'd like to find out how health coaching with me can help you to boost your diet so you can have a healthier brain and body, contact me for a free, no obligation 30 minute Health Exploration call.