Fire Up Your Brain With These Foods

Feeling moody or sluggish? Nutritionist, Zoe Bingley-Pullin, tells us which foods fire up the brain matter.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to boost your brainpower simply by eating the right foods. The brain is the largest and most highly developed mass of nerve tissue, and forms the upper end of the central nervous system (CNS). So by not getting enough of the right foods into the system, you can have a detrimental affect on your brain and your mood.
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Mood swings

If you feel grumpy and lethargic in the afternoon, you may be loading up on too much sugar. Mood swings can be caused by sudden changes in blood sugar levels so stay away from simple carbohydrates, such as white flour, sugar, rice, pasta and white or wholemeal bread. Instead, opt for a diet high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruit, vegetables, legume, grains, nuts and seeds.

Understanding the brain

The brain is 70 percent fat; therefore it’s extremely important to maintain a healthy balance of good fats in your diet. Supplementing your diet with fish oil or flaxseed oil (both excellent sources of essential fatty acids or EFAs) can help maintain the brain’s healthy fat levels. EFAs have been proven to help increase energy levels, aid deep sleep as well as improve our sense of physical and psychological wellbeing – in a nutshell; our moods.

EFAs positively affect the nervous system by helping the body feel calm, which in turn, improves our ability to deal with stressful situations.

Four essential diet supplements for a better mood and sharper mind

Selenium is a high antioxidant with the added benefits of helping the body decrease anxiety and lifting your moods. Try supplementing your diet with 100mcg of selenium for a five-week period and you’ll definitely notice a difference in the way you feel.

Brazil nuts are the best-known food source of selenium, but if you’re not a fan of nuts, try increasing your consumption of barley, full-grain bread, mushrooms, chicken, tuna, garlic and tomatoes.

Vitamin B1 has also been proven to improve your mood, since mood swings are a likely result of Vitamin B1 deficiency. Women who took Vitamin B1 daily over a period of two months reported feeling significantly more clear-headed, composed and energetic. Vitamin B1 (also called Thiamine) is found in foods such as brewer’s yeast, liver, mackerel, kidneys, beef, nuts and miso soup and is a known for making the brain more alert.

Glutamic acid functions as a stimulatory neurotransmitter by exciting neurons in the brain and accelerating communication between neurons. Glutamic acid is the most abundant amino acid in the brain. It can be found in fennel, wheat, bee pollen, garlic and wakame, a flat sea vegetable. Japanese diets are known to be high in glutamic acid.

Top tip: Also try supplementing your diet with fish oil capsules twice a day to increase your intake of essential fatty acids. 

Brain food diet

By increasing your consumption of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and flaxseed oil, you can eat your way to calmer you. Try this simple diet plan to combat fatigue, lift your mood and be more alert throughout the day.

Organic untoasted muesli, dried fruit with two tablespoons of natural yoghurt, banana and fresh strawberries

Mid-morning snack
Miso soup with fresh coriander and shallots

Mixed salad with vegetables, half an avocado and sardines. Make a dressing using flaxseed oil, lemon juice and herbs.

Afternoon snack
Raw and unsalted nuts and seeds, such as Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed or almonds

Skinless chicken breast marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, roasted Italian vegetables such as red and green capsicums, Spanish onions, mushrooms, fennel, zucchini and whole garlic. Season with a dribble of olive oil, pinch of sea salt and sprig of thyme.

Small bowl of frozen berries with a pinch of cinnamon to taste


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