Our brain is one hungry organ. And we should nourish it accordingly, considering it utilizes about twenty percent of our daily intake. Our brains need plenty of nourishing foods to keep it running properly. And today we are going to focus on two of my favorite food groups: protein and vegetables!
The term “brain food” is a real thing . Eating healthy food that fuels the brain will give you excellent results. There are few things that you can do better for yourself than fueling your brain right. Protein improves brain function and creates brain chemicals, while vegetables (particularly leafy greens) provide the best source of brain vitamins.
Protein is awesome because it can be found in so many foods. One of my favorite sources of protein is grilled chicken and fish. Pairing protein with leafy greens is the ultimate brain power meal! Protein containing foods have amino acids that are part of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Consider these the telephones that enable the brain’s cells to communicate with each other. A few neurotransmitters you may be familiar with are serotonin, dopamine and endorphins (a.k.a. your happy hormones!) To little protein can lead to too little neurotransmitters, and that means poor concentration, fatigue, anxiety and memory loss (all things I’m not very fond of…) So get that protein in by incorporating chicken, fish, tofu, nuts, and lean meats to keep your noggin happy!
There was recently a study that showed people who ate three or more servings of vegetables per day had the brain function of someone five years younger. Leafy greens are the best source of the B vitamins – specifically B6, B12 and folic acid, which are essential brain vitamins. These can be easily incorporated into your diet by including kale, collards, spinach, bok choy and broccoli rabe. And if leafy greens aren’t your thing, not to worry! There are plenty of other vegetables that are excellent sources of brain fuel. Enter: root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and peppers! A list of these energy boosting veggies are as follows – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, and bell peppers. Root vegetables help keep you fuller longer due to their fiber content, and will supply you with lasting energy due to the complex carbohydrates they contain. Peppers are high in antioxidants, beta carotene and capsaicin that provide great circulation to the brain. And the cruciferous veggies provide those antioxidants as well as sulforaphane, a sulphur-based phytonutrient that can heal brain inflammation.
So next time you sit down to your next meal (or snack!) and want to fuel your brain to get the most out of your day, aim to include some protein and veggies on your plate, I promise your body will thank you for it! ☺
Article Written In Collaboration With Nutrionist Hillary Macias