What does the food you eat have to do with how your brain functions? While we’ve always known that what we eat affects our bodies and how we look, scientists are also learning more and more that what we eat takes a toll on our brains. Yes, brain foods matter (especially for our gray matter).
See, our bodies don’t like stress. Who actually does? When we’re stressed out — whether it’s physical, like someone jumps out at you from a dark alley, or mental, like you have a major project due at work — our bodies release inflammatory cytokines.
These little chemicals prompt the immune system to kick in and fight back against the stress through inflammation, as though stress is an infection. But what does this all have to do with food? Our stomachs help keep our body’s immune responses and inflammation under control.
Additionally, hormones released from the stomachs that enter the brain or are produced in the brain influence cognitive ability, like understanding and processing new information, staying focused on the task at hand and recognizing when we’re full. Plus, brain foods rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals provide energy and aid in protecting against brain diseases.
So when we focus on giving our bodies’ whole, nutritious foods benefiting both the gut and the brain, we’re actually benefiting our minds and bodies while keeping them both in tip-top shape. Of course, some foods are better for your brain than others.
So I took it upon us to round up 8 brain foods you should be eating to feed both your mind and body. With a mix of fruits, veggies, oils and even chocolate (yes, chocolate!), there’s something to please everyone!
This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of my all-time favorites. While it can be a bad rep because of their high fat content, it’s important to note that these green powerhouses are packed with monosaturated fats or the “good” kind, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing.
It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers. That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat — they’ve even earned a spot on my healthy foods shopping list.
Proving that great things do come in small packages, blueberries are a fruit I try to eat daily. That’s because they’ve got so many great health benefit while tasting like an all-natural candy! For starters, it’s one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods known to man, including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber.
4. Bone Broth
Bone broth is the ultimate food for healing your gut and, in turn, healing your brain. This ancient food is full of health benefits, ranging from boosting your immune system, overcoming leaky gut, improving joint health and overcoming food allergies.
Its high levels of collagen help reduce intestinal inflammation, and healing amino acids like proline and glycine keep your immune system functioning properly and help improve memory.
Your mom got it right when she told you to eat your broccoli. It’s one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp. It’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake. Its high-fiber levels mean that you’ll feel full quickly too.
For a vegetable with such few calories (just 16 per cup!), celery sure does offer a lot of benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides act as natural anti-inflammatories and can help alleviate symptoms related to inflammation, like joint pain and irritable bowel syndrome.
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the most versatile and good for you foods out there. With 77 coconut oil uses and cures, there’s almost nothing that coconut oil can’t help.
And when it comes to your brain, it’s full of benefits too. Coconut oil works as a natural anti-inflammatory, suppressing cells responsible for inflammation and It can help with memory loss as you age.
8. Dark Chocolate
Not all chocolate is created equal; in fact, dark chocolate can actually be good for you! Chocolate is chockfull of flavones, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
They can also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the brain and heart. Skip milk and white chocolates and opt for a minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent of cocoa.