Written by Stella Speigel from StellarHealth
You can picture it, but never see it. You can listen to it, but never hear it. You can use it, but never touch it.
This isn’t a deep, intellectual riddle, these are just facts — about your brain. It really is amazing when you stop to think about it. You might even say it’s “a lot to wrap your head around”…
Ok, wow, that was super cheesy, I know.
Seriously though, let’s talk about our brains. They are these unimaginable organs we all have and can’t live without, that we constantly think with, but rarely think about.
At any given time your brain is using 20% of your body’s oxygen; and 20% of the blood in your body is being pumped to your brain. It demands massive amounts of your energy — and requires a particular type of energy as its main source — glucose, or “sugar”.
***This does not mean your brain runs best on Fun Dip!***
Like anything it’s quality of sugar that is most important. Complex carbohydrates from a clean sources like starchy vegetables are some of the best sources of fuel for your brain.
Every single thing we eat/drink/breathe and even absorb through our skin contributes to our ability to build, protect and use our brains. No pressure or anything.
As with anything, one day of indulging isn’t going to completely destroy your intellect, but focusing on feeding your brain most of the time is the key. Try working the following foods into your diet on a regular basis for their unique brain boosting effects.
BRAIN BOOSTING FOODS
The brain is 60% fat. More specifically, it’s made up of an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA. The fat in your brain acts as insulation for billions of tiny nerve transmitting cells that signal and stimulate every function in your body. This fatty “insulation” protects these nerve cells from damage. Lacking fatty acids like DHA results in everything from memory loss to mood disorders. Unfortunately, humans aren’t effective at creating our own DHA so it’s an essential fatty acid we need to obtain through our diet. Salmon, or other oily fish are among the best sources of DHA.
All the constant work your brain does creates a lot of what’s called “metabolic waste” which causes “oxidative stress” and this is what speeds up the brains aging process. To combat oxidation, your brain needs the protection ofantioxidants. Blueberries are your best anti-oxidizing friends. They contain phytonutrients that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables to help neutralize damage. They’re packed with vitamin C, help modulate inflammation and protect nerve pathways among so many other benefits.
Carbohydrate is not a dirty word! Sweet potatoes are a great form of complex carbohydrates that convert to glucose as energy for your brain. They also contain tons of fibre helping to control the release of sugar into the blood among other benefits, and are packed with protective antioxidants like pre-Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, combats inflammation all over this body, including the brain. Chronic inflammation causes excess stress that, as we now know, speeds up the aging process. Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight inflammatory substances and also stimulates your immune system to produce cells that “gobble up” and destroy any foreign substances that contribute to inflammation and stress.
Gingko Biloba is a plant well known for its ability to help improve memory and cognitive function, among so many other benefits. It does this through increasing blood flow to the brain. Just like other organs and extremities, the brain functions best when there’s a good, healthy blood supply. Given that 1/5th of the blood in your body is pumping to your brain, any help you can get in this process is likely welcomed!
AND OF COURSE…
Your brain is mostly water, and needs to remain consistently hydrated to function optimally. Everything from cognitive function and mood stabilization to physical capability is impacted by (de)hydration. Aim for a minimum of 2L of water a day to make sure your brain and body are fully hydrated.
There is no one answer or “cure-all” when it comes to brain health. It’s a complex organ that works for you …all day, every day. It’s definitely earned the right for you to think about it a little more.