Guest post from Planet Paleo
What is brain food?
Food plays a vital role in keeping the brain healthy and eating a diet rich in brain-boosting foods can improve memory and concentration, as well as supporting both short-and long-term brain function.
Whether you want to perform your best at work, get better sleep, or improve your mood, looking at your diet and regularly including brain foods is an easy way to support cognitive function.
Foods that aid brain function generally contain the following nutrients: antioxidants, B-vitamins, omega fatty acids, and magnesium. Probiotic-and prebiotic-rich foods can also be beneficial and have a direct impact on brain health via the gut-brain axis.
Let’s take a look at some of the best brain foods to support different areas of cognitive health…
The Best Food for Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for overall health. During deep sleep the brain consolidates all the information it has learnt through the day, makes memories, enhances immune system activity, and so much more. Sleep helps to regulate hormones, supports mood, and improves concentration, so it’s important we get enough of it.
There are many strategies we can use to promote deep, restful sleep and dietary choices play a key role in this area. These are some of the best natural sleep aids:
As well as several other nuts, almonds are a good source of melatonin which helps to regulate circadian rhythms and prepares the body for sleep. They are also rich in magnesium and zinc which can help with relaxation, calm, and promoting sleep.
Chamomile tea is a popular bedtime choice. It is rich in antioxidant apigenin which binds to receptors in the brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
Collagen is rich in the amino acid glycine which acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Glycine has been shown to reduce insomnia, improve sleep quality, and improve the symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Several studies have found tart cherries to be one of the best natural sleep aids. Research shows sleep benefits for those who consumed tart cherry juice, with increased total sleep time and improved sleep efficiency, likely due to their rich melatonin content.
While these foods may help with sleep, it is also important to focus on good sleep hygiene, including the bedroom environment and avoiding gadgets in the hours before bed as they can suppress melatonin production and upset circadian rhythms.
The Best Food for Focus
We can also include certain foods to support day-to-day focus and concentration. Try including some of these brain foods if you are looking for a productivity boost:
The caffeine and antioxidants in coffee can help to support brain health and have several positive effects including increased alertness, sharpened concentration, and studies suggest it may even increase the brain’s capacity for processing information.
As is the case with coffee, the caffeine in green and matcha tea boosts brain function. Matcha is also rich in L-theanine which has been found to improve alertness and overall focus. Try our Pure Collagen Matcha Latte when you need mental clarity for extended periods.
Making sure you are adequately hydrated helps with brain function, and it’s been shown to help with focus, creativity, and clarity.
MCTs are often recommended for a mental performance boost. These fats bypass the body’s digestive system and are converted into ketones in the liver; the brain uses these ketones to produce ATP which keep it fuelled and improve cognitive function. Try adding Planet Paleo MCT Oil to your morning coffee for a productive start to the day.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
One of the best-known cognitive enhancement supplements, lion’s mane is a delicious culinary and medicinal mushroom with a lot of brain benefits. Try Mushrooms 4 Life Organic Lion's Mane for an easy way to get more of this incredible mushroom is your diet.
It’s also important to eat enough to fuel the body and brain and sustain focus. Exercise can be a great choice for a productivity boost too, as it increases blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to the cells which improves cognitive function. Remember to also take frequent screen breaks, which can also aid productivity.
Best Brain Foods for Memory
If you feel like your memory isn’t as good as it used to be, it may be time to include some of our top memory-boosting foods:
Around 60% of the brain is made of fat, and half of that is Omega-3, so include Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish to support cognitive health. The brain uses Omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells which are essential for learning and memory.
Dark-coloured berries are one of the best memory-boosting foods. Berries are rich in anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can protect the brain against oxidative stress and inflammation which can contribute to brain ageing. A review found blueberries could help improve memory and cognition in children and older adults.
Rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin E, and more to support cognitive health. Studies have found that those who regularly consume nuts have much sharper memories.
Rich in flavonoids which are used in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory, suggesting these compounds may enhance memory and slow neurodegeneration. Try adding a cup of Planet Paleo Cacao Magic to your daily routine.
Also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, a daily dose of turmeric has been found to improve memory and mood in older adults. You could add Planet Paleo Collagen Turmeric Latte or you can add Planet Paleo Bone Broth (Golden Turmeric) to soup and stews or drink it on its own.
Like other aspects of cognitive health, it is also important to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and stay mentally active with brain-training games and mindfulness practices.
And a bit more on Eating Healthily...
The brain requires a huge amount of energy but also a rich array of micronutrients from the diet to function well throughout the life cycle.
Studies have suggested that negative effects on the brain of consuming the standard Western diet can occur almost immediately, so try to minimise or eradicate foods like trans fats, sugary drinks, and refined foods to optimise cognitive function.
The best way to support brain health is by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and stimulating the brain with new challenges, as well as including a diverse range of the brain foods mentioned above.