Foods for Brain Health

by Nicole RamirezMar 19, 2020

One of the most important organs in our body is our brain. Our brain controls our speech, thought, memory, movements and even the function of our other organs. There are three main parts of the brain- the cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem. The cerebrum fills most of our skull and helps us move, remember, problem solve, think and feel. Our cerebellum controls our balance and coordination. Lastly, our brain stem is what controls our breathing, heart rate, digestion and even our blood pressure. So we can see why it is important to take care of our brain! The foods we eat can impact the health and structure of our brain. Can you believe our brain uses about 20 percent of the calories we intake? This is a big reason why eating enough calories is important. If we do not provide enough calories for our brain, it would not perform optimally. When we start to feel sluggish, sometimes we can link that feeling to something we ate. For example, greasy food takes longer to digest and does not provide optimal energy for our body. This in turn will make us feel sluggish. If we consume high glycemic foods especially without fibre, protein or fat, we will see a spike in our energy and then a crash. This shows the importance of not only knowing what to eat but also how to eat.

There are some important nutrients to keep the brain healthy and sharp. Omega 3s help protect our cells which increases blood flow to our brain. This improves our overall function of our brain. A great meal from Tone & Sculpt app is the Spinach Salmon salad for lunch! Fish can be included in a meal and even a sandwich! We also have the tuna crunch sandwich for an easy on the go lunch at work!

Antioxidants

Antioxidants have great benefits for our brain. Specifically, an antioxidant called flavonoid helps to reduce inflammation. They can be found in berries. Studies have shown the antioxidants in berries help improve signalling between cells and improved memory. The peanut butter strawberry waffle meal for breakfast on the app is perfect for this! Adding in strawberries helps increase the antioxidant content of this meal. You can add strawberries to smoothies, as a topping on oatmeal or have it as a sweet snack! Pumpkin seeds also contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage, which is damage to our cells. When our cells become damaged they do not grow which then affects skin, hair growth and brain function. Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc and copper.

Important Nutrients for your brain health:

Zinc is an element that is crucial for nerve signalling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, depression and Parkinson's disease.

Magnesium is an essential nutrient for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression and epilepsy . The classic cereal on Tone and Sculpt app spices up our typical cereal and milk by adding in pumpkin seeds. It may not be something you typically include in your cereal but the nutrients it provides is essential to a healthy brain! Pumpkin seeds are even a great snack. Alone they are filled with healthy fats and fibre!

Caffeine
has also shown positive effects on the brain. Benefits include increased alertness and sharpened concentration. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a messenger that makes you feel sleepy. Have you tried the coffee smoothie on the Tone & Sculpt app? It is the perfect way to start your day for energy. The oats and bananas included in the meal provide a good amount of fibre too!

Our brain is made mostly of fat which is why nuts are a great brain loving food. Research has shown that eating nuts can improve heart health, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain. Also, another large study found that women who ate nuts regularly over the course of several years had a sharper memory, compared to those who didn't eat nuts. Fats are very important in our diet due to these different types of benefits.

Keeping your brain healthy is easy if you are eating a varied diet and one abundant in antioxidants and fat! In order to carry out these important functions, the brain requires a steady fuel supply. The brain can use two main fuels, glucose or ketones. In people who eat a diet moderate to high in carbohydrates, the brain’s main energy source is glucose. In people who eat a low carb-ketogenic diet, the brain’s main energy source is ketones (fat). Glucose is the preferred energy source for all of our organs, especially our brain. This is why all of our meals on the Tone & Sculpt app include a healthy amount of each macronutrient; carbohydrates, protein and fat. Try some of the meals listed above to help improve brain function!

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