Within each of us is the unique ability to unlock an inner genius and a well-fed brain is one of our greatest assets. In fact, diet plays a clear and definite role in every aspect of brain function, literally shaping our thoughts and even actions. According to Next-generation medical imaging and genomic sequencing studies, some foods are neuroprotective, literally shielding the brain from harm and supporting cognitive fitness over the course of a lifetime.
Conversely, other foods are harmful for the brain, slowing us down in general, making us feel sluggish and tired, while at the same time increasing our risk of dementia. Ultra-processed food, made in a factory with industrial ingredients and additives are the worst as they have very low nutritional quality in terms of the amount of free sugars they contain, salt and saturated fat and they tend to be much lower in proteins, minerals and vitamins. They are also high in calories.
So, how we can step into our fullest power? Simply starting to pay attention to what we eat. Each bite of food we take is a kind of investment in our future health and wellbeing.
In theory, we all know what we are supposed to eat to improve our health but most of the time, we are just addicted to our usual craving for comfort food and ready-made meals and we forget.
Max Lugavere, the American health and science journalist and the author of the New York Times best-selling book ‘Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life‘ pulled together a comprehensive guide to brain optimization uncovering the link between our dietary and lifestyle choices and our brain functions, revealing how the foods we eat directly affect our ability to focus, learn, remember, create, analyze new ideas, and maintain a balanced mood.
Where do we start? First of all getting rid of highly-processed grain and seed oils like corn, soybean, and canola. Then add to our daily menu a large salad of dark, leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, and arugula) dressed in extra-virgin olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fat.
Research shows that one-third of a cup of dark leafy greens per day, the equivalent of a large salad, is related to up to 11 years of reduced brain ageing – said Max Lugavere- This is likely because dark leafy greens contain a myriad of micronutrients and fibre, which help keep inflammation at bay while supporting the body’s hardwired detox programs.
We should also avoid added sugar and eat a low-grain diet because grains are energy dense yet nutrient poor. Among the super-genius food, Lugavere suggests avocados, plenty of monounsaturated fats, to protect and enhance our brain. They contain 12 grams of fibre, which feeds bacteria in your gut to reduce inflammation, enhance insulin sensitivities, and boost growth factors in the brain. Berries (especially blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), packed with antioxidants, help keep memory sharp as we age, as well as almonds. They are a famously rich source of polyphenols and the fat-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E, which improve the functioning of our brain. Among the super genius snacks, Dark chocolate, with cocoa content of 80% or higher, rich in theobromine and natural antioxidants, is the top one recommended. “Evidence has been shown to reverse signs of cognitive ageing and improve blood flow to the brain – said Lugavere-. Not only that, it will also instantly boost your mood and increase the neurotransmitter, serotonin”.