Strokes Of Insight: Brain Series EP 3: Foods That Feed The Brain

Leyth Hampshire
7th December 2020

EP 3: Foods That Optimise The Brain 🥑

Oh, we all love good food. Food is so god damn important. The saying, you are what you eat cannot ring more true. Especially when it comes to the brain. A study conducted by some scientists at YourHeights found out that more than 99% of the UK population don’t eat what their brains need to thrive on. Which is CRAZY. The brain is the control centre of the body, the hungriest organ in our body and also the most vital. To think the vast majority of humans in the UK don't get what they need to support their brain function is barbaric. Ahh yes, cue the sounds of angels as I start to dive into how you, yes you, can start to optimise your brain today by watching what you eat.

This is so important. I remember when I woke up from the coma. I had several long tubes going directly into my head. These all had very different purposes. One was to drain the excess blood that had filled my cerebral cortex and one was to track the electromagnetic waves in my brain to ensure they stayed steady. I remember a particular moment so very vividly. Whilst I was laying in the coma, they had a tube going into my mouth feeding me (doesn't sound that nice right!) so my body for 7 days was disconnected from real foods. When I woke up, there was a moment when my father passed my orange. Oh wow, this orange. The aromatic citrus smell, the bright vibrant colours, the juicy sweet nectar that poured out of it when I bit into it. God damn, it was like the best orange I've ever eaten. I wish every orange was like that, but I can tell you at that moment, there was nothing more important than that bloody orange. Anyhow, enough orange talk. I just wanted to share with you the feeling of having my first bite of REAL food once I woke up.

Let's dive into some more serious stuff. Like, what can you be eating to optimise your brain? However, before we dive in...I want to tell you what not getting the right brain nutrition may mean for your head and body. Studies show, that poor brain nutrition can lead to:

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating for long periods
  • Taking a long time to fall asleep, or not enough quality sleep
  • Low energy levels, or feeling fatigued too easily
  • Unstable and unpredictable moods

Let me tell you this. Your brain is fat. Oh no, don't take it personally. 60% of your brain is made up of fat which means your brain feeds off fat. Ben Greenfield dives into this more here. I don't want to get too sciencey however, you are what you eat. So when the brain is trying to rebuild neurological connections, it feeds itself and therefore to perform optimally it will search for fat in your diet to help it. This is why healthy fats are VITAL, and non-healthy fats are devilish.

Dr Shanahan in “Deep Nutrition”: Explains how fat, for centuries, has been an integral part of many ancestral diets. She mentions how the modern diet has taken us so far from real, whole foods which in turn has caused so many brain and mental health-related issues. Packaged, processed, genetically modified, preserved and poisonous.

This is NOT how we are DESIGNED to eat. Because your brain is comprised of and uses so much fat, a diet that is either low-fat, fat-free or consists of inflammatory fats can have a significant deleterious impact on cognitive health. Anyways, the CHEK institute dives deep into this one as well, check out this article about how to optimise your brain.

The Practise

So, enough telling off! Let us now to dive into "The Practise".

How To Eat Yourself Smart by Ben Greenfield gives you a load of great insight but I am going to break down a few ideas for you now. Foods that you need to start including/eating more in your diet:

  1. Avocadoes are very beneficial on several levels. Their vitamin-K content helps to prevent blood clots in the brain, and they also act as an antioxidant in the brain of diabetic rats, along with improving the function of brain mitochondria.
  2. Blueberries, cocoa and coconut oil all contain high levels of flavonoids, flavonols and (in the case of coconut oil) medium-chain triglycerides that can help to protect the brain from oxidative stress.
  3. Broccoli and egg yolk not only pair fantastically in an omelette, but both contain choline, which helps to improve both verbal and visual memory.
  4. Foods high in Omega 3, 6, 9 are VITAL. If you are a meat-eater, think oily fish ( salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna or trout). If you are plant-based, you will need to supplement with foods such as chlorella, spirulina and marine phytoplankton.

Start with that! You can head over to YourHeights who also wrote a great article on some great foods you can eat. I would say, real food is the best food. Trying to reduce the number of supplements you need to take is very important, our brain needs real, whole foods to thrive.

Lastly, but by no means least. I want to share with you one of my favourite brain foods that I believe has had a tremendously positive impact on my recovery and neurological development. Medicinal Mushrooms. The use of Mushrooms dates back thousands of years. They are one of the most ancient healing medicines that we used to use as human beings. I won't dive into too much depth, as I've written a whole blog about medicinal mushrooms here. However, I want to tell you about the Lion's Mane. The Mushroom for the mind.

Studies have found Lion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds that stimulate the growth of brain cells: hericenones and erinacines protect them from damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. So next time you are looking to explore the more alternative sources of brain food, I highly recommend checking out Lion's mane. I use Naavi Organics Lions Mane daily and you can check them out here.

Anyways, enough for now! Til next time, when I will start to explore how experimental movement has an impact on the brain and it's correlation to our neurological development.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

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Ciao for now, Leyth

*Disclaimer: I am not medically certified, I am just obsessively intrigued by human optimization.*

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