Although the brain is such a complex organ, determining who we are and how to navigate our way through this world, maintaining it, and caring for it does not have to be complicated. Just keep these 10 eating habits to take care of the brain:
1. The brain loves water
The largest component of the body is water, so you need to consume enough clean, uncontaminated water to keep your body and brain well hydrated.
2. The brain loves protein
Protein is important not only for building muscle, but also for keeping your neurons working effectively. If you don't eat enough good-quality protein, your neurons struggle to communicate with each other, and you could have a hard time concentrating, leading to memory challenges. Proteins must be organic if it is animal protein, and you have to combine cereals with legumes to make complete protein if you are a vegetarian.
3. The brain is the greediest organ in your body
Your brain is the most energy-hungry organ in your body. You need a steady and stable supply of good quality carbohydrates. Low sugar vegetables and fruits, good sources of carbohydrates for sustained energy production, while processed and refined carbohydrates provide short-term energy solutions.
Choose whole grains and legumes for sustained energy release as well, and your brain will enjoy the optimal energy supply. A wide variety of fresh produce will also supply vitamins and minerals that the brain needs to function optimally.
4. The brain regarding coffee
Caffeine provides a quick energy "rush" to the brain by stimulating the release of adrenaline. This makes you feel energetic to begin with, but this soon subsides, leaving you in need of another "fix." Try one of the great herbal teas available, or go for the old-fashioned water with a hint of lemon. Most people don't need another stress kick, and this is exactly what coffee offers.
5. The brain needs carbohydrates
Think about what you fancy. If it's chocolate and candy, you're probably experiencing unstable glucose levels from consuming processed carbohydrates, so you need to wean yourself off these insidious addictions. When people are tired from lack of sleep, ongoing stress, and feeling overwhelmed, they usually go for a quick sugary snack to give them a blast of energy.
Good green juice, packed with nutrient-rich compounds, can help you achieve more stable blood glucose levels, and drive with fewer cravings. Eating the right fats helps tremendously too, because when the right fats are supplied, your cells produce energy more efficiently. This keeps your energy levels high, leading to fewer energy and chocolate snack slumps.
6. The gut will affect what happens in the brain
Contrary to popular belief, you are not what you eat: you are what you absorb. This means that you need to resolve any digestive difficulties that you may be experiencing. Your food must be digested, absorbed, and waste effectively removed, before you can be optimally healthy. Your brain can only receive nutrients that are absorbed, so it makes perfect sense to ensure that your gut is working well.
7. The brain loves fat
60% of your brain is made up of fat, so the type of fat you need to consume has to be of a very high quality. Your brain is especially fond of omega-3 fats, but it also needs omega-6 fats. These essential fats are very delicate and prone to damage, so you need to consume a mixture without damage.
8. If your body doesn't like a meal, your brain will object too
If you have a food intolerance, like wheat or dairy, your brain struggles to stay alert and focused. This, of course, affects your memory negatively. Researchers are still working on exactly why food intolerance affects the brain in a negative way, but if you suspect that you may be intolerant to a specific food, leave it out of your diet for a couple of weeks, and see how you feel. Interestingly, the foods that you crave are often the ones that are not in accordance with your body, as they produce a similar addictive response in your body. So, if you think you can't live without it, chances are your body - and brain - can do without it.
9. Food additives don't add to better brain function
Check the labels of the foods you eat. If you eat a lot of fresh produce there are no labels, but there are additives in canned and processed foods that may be causing harm to your body and brain. Many additives are simply present in the product so that the product does not expire, thus avoiding loss of revenue for the manufacturer. Also, some additives are actively dangerous, such as MSG, which is an excitotoxin, causing damage to neurons, and eventually loss, when consumed in excess.
10. Eat a good breakfast to keep your brain happy throughout the day
Eating breakfast will not only determine your weight, but it also determines how your brain will function during the day. When people miss breakfast, they are preparing to gain weight, as they tend to eat more during the day. Also, orientation, memory, and mood are negatively influenced by lack of breakfast. If you are not hungry when you wake up, consider taking your breakfast with you.
Since it's best to eat only after you've been awake for about an hour, you can make your way to make your breakfast, and eat when you get to your destination. It sure beats a cup of coffee and a muffin on your desk. Otherwise, you can go to bed early, wake up in time to exercise, and then eat your breakfast.
These tips may take some time to implement, but even changing just one to begin with is a step in the right direction.
Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas.