How To Make A Good Brain Great
An adult brain contains 1 billion cells. If you were to count to 1 billion, it would take you 31 years, 251 days, 7 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds; this shows just how complex our brain is.
The brain and the body have been talked about as two separate entities for many years, which is crazy when you think of it.
We now know that the brain is the master controller of every thought, action, emotion, belief and desire, and it is the production and onward communication of chemicals messengers called ‘neurotransmitters’ that allow the thought/emotion/action to take place.
Your brain controls the quality of every single aspect of your life, so we should take care of it more than anything else.
Neuroscientists have identified the nutrients needed for a healthy brain, so we’re going to highlight some of the key ones.
‘Neuroplasticity’, or ‘brain plasticity’, refers to the brain’s ability to adapt throughout life. The human brain has an incredible ability to constantly adapt and change itself by forming new connections between brain cells (neurons). Encouragingly, this means we can positively impact the health of our brain at any time with the right eating and lifestyle choices.
We can rewire our thinking at any time.
Keeping our brain healthy today is critical for avoiding degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, both devastating conditions for all concerned.
In no particular order of importance, here are nine top tips for keeping our brain in optimal condition:
The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in high amounts in oily fish. They improve memory and cognitive function, allowing our mind to think more clearly and recall information more readily.
Good sources of EPA and DHA: oily fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon)
2). Move your body regularly
We all know that exercise is good for us and makes us feel immediately good, but it’s also been proven to encourage our brain to work at optimum capacity by not only stimulating nerve cells to multiply but also strengthening their connections in the first place which enhances our overall cognitive ability.
By moving our bodies regularly, we can stimulate the production of both serotonin and dopamine. As little as 30 minutes of exercise can improve mood and neurotransmitter levels.
A gentle yoga flow or a walk will do the trick; it doesn’t need to be intense exercise.
If your work involves being sat at a desk, set your alarm for half-hourly or hourly intervals to move around and stretch your legs.
3). Flaxseed oil
Is a lack of motivation or a bad mood stopping you from kicking off your health and fitness goals? Research shows that flaxseed oil supports brain function, mood, memory, and promotes the health of brain and nerve cells. As well as flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids, in particular, keep the dopamine levels in your brain high whilst also increasing the neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain. They also increase cerebral circulation.
So for that boost of mental clarity and motivation for hitting the gym, omega-3 rich flaxseeds could be a great start! Add them to your morning smoothie or on top of your porridge oats.
Eating protein-rich foods support increased dopamine production. The main neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of being happy and content is a neurotransmitter called serotonin.
There is also another essential component of health and happiness – and that is dopamine. Dopamine helps to control the brain’s pleasure and reward centre. It also helps regulate emotional responses and movement, enabling us not only to see rewards but also to take action towards them.
Good sources: Eggs, fish, poultry and red meat.
Bananas are a good source of the amino acid ‘tyrosine’ – a vital building block in the production of dopamine. For someone experiencing a depressive disorder, foods alone generally cannot provide enough therapeutic amino acid to boost dopamine levels. This is where supplementation would be recommended.
Good food sources of tyrosine: Chicken, turkey, fish, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and cheese are other great sources of the amino acid (protein) tyrosine.
6). Fibre-rich foods
Processed foods tend to be lacking in fibre, vitamins and minerals, which are of course essential to our very being.
It is nutrients that keep us alive!
Many people over-consume highly processed foods, as they provide little to no nourishment and don’t readily engage the satiety centre in the brain. So to ensure you don’t overreact, eat fibre rich foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, pulses, legumes and leafy vegetables.
Eggs contain choline – an essential component of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain involved in memory and muscle control.
8). Good fats
Eating fat from whole foods is critical to every aspect of your health, including great energy, a happy mood, clear skin, your ability to be calm and to use body fat as a fuel.
Fat is highly satiating, meaning it acts on the satiety centre of the brain, which can help people feel satisfied with smaller portions and fewer sugar cravings. Sugar is damaging to the brain, so keeping sugar cravings at bay means less willpower will be required to refrain from eating sugar.
Quality sleep is the key to an energised life. A lack of sleep or poor quality sleep causes the brain to stop producing more brain cells.
Incredibly, sleep is also the time where your brain cleans itself of toxins so if you want a clean brain firing on all cylinders, get that quality shut-eye.
In a nutshell: Eat real food.
You cannot drip dose yourself non-food and expect your body to function optimally.
Let me know which point resonated most in the comments below?