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The #1 Best Food for Your Brain

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 10/02/2023

Ever wonder why some days your brain feels as sharp as a tack, while other times it's more like a dull butter knife? The answer might be on your plate. Picture this: Your brain is an engine, and the food you eat - that’s its fuel.

The catch is not all fuels are created equal. Some can turn your brain into a high-performance machine humming along in top gear; others will leave it sputtering and stalling at the starting line.

So what if there was one superfood, just one type of grub so chock-full of good stuff that could put those gray cells to work? Would you take a bite?

Hang tight! We're about to spill the beans on the top food for keeping our brains in tip-top shape. But first, let's chat more about how various foods can boost or bust our brain health.

The Brain's Unique Nutritional Needs

Our brains are fascinating, complex organs. Despite making up just 2% of our body weight, they use a whopping 20% of the energy we consume. But that's not all; the brain has other unique characteristics.

The Brain's High Energy Consumption

A high-performance engine needs top-quality fuel to run efficiently; your brain is no different. It consumes about one-fifth of your daily calorie intake. That's quite impressive, given its tiny size compared to the rest of your body.

This high demand for energy underscores how important it is to feed your mind with nutrient-rich foods. Doing so, you help ensure optimal performance and health for this critical organ.

Keto foods and brain

Brain Regeneration and Size

Contrary to popular belief, intelligence is not determined by the size of one's brain. No correlation exists between intellect and brain size. What matters more is the complexity within our grey matter.

Fascinatingly, certain parts of our brains can regenerate, too – something once thought impossible in neuroscience. While not all areas have this capability, some regions, like the hippocampus, show promising signs of regrowth under specific conditions.

Harmful Foods for Brain Health

Despite weighing only 2% of your body mass, the brain is an enormous energy consumer, devouring up to 20% of your daily caloric intake. It gobbles up to 20% of your daily calorie intake. However, not all foods are beneficial for this vital organ.

The Impact of Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids can be tricky. They're essential fats our bodies need but can't produce - so we must get them from food. Excess consumption of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3s can lead to inflammation in the brain.

Foods like vegetable oils (think soybean or corn oil) and certain nuts and seeds are high in omega-6s.

When these foods dominate our diet without adequate counterbalance from omega-rich fish or flaxseeds, it's like inviting a rowdy party-goer into your home who starts throwing furniture around—that's what inflammation does to your delicate brain cells.

Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates' Role in Insulin Resistance

Next on the 'bad guys' list are sugar and refined carbohydrates—these culprits aren't just waistline expanders but also dangerous for the mind.

Research shows that diets high in sugar lead to insulin resistance over time—a condition where cells stop responding effectively to insulin signals. The result? Your neurons starve as they struggle with glucose uptake, impacting cognitive function negatively.

Frequent consumption of sodas, candy bars, pastries—even seemingly healthy foods like some breakfast cereals—can be akin to signing a 'do not disturb' sign for your brain cells. The takeaway? Be mindful of what you feed your body—it directly impacts your mind's health and function.

Link Between Diet and Neurological Disorders

Diet can have a profound impact on neurological health. Diet has a noticeable impact on neurological conditions, particularly Alzheimer's and dementia.

Alzheimer's Disease, Insulin Resistance, and Glucose Starvation

The brain relies heavily on glucose for energy. However, when insulin resistance occurs due to poor dietary choices like consuming excessive sugar or refined carbs, it can lead to what we call 'glucose starvation' in the nerves.

This starvation scenario, where neurons are deprived of essential fuel, has been linked directly with Alzheimer's disease. So you see how your dinner plate might be affecting your cognitive health.

The Connection Between Gluten and Dementia

Gluten isn't just about avoiding bread for those wanting to lose weight. It may seem harmless, but gluten sensitivity could potentially trigger gut problems that affect more than just digestion.

Studies suggest a correlation between these gluten-triggered gut issues and an increased risk of dementia - surprising, right? While research is ongoing, reducing gluten intake seems sensible for your belly and possibly for protecting against neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia.

Wild-Caught Salmon: A Superfood for the Brain

For optimal brain health, wild-caught salmon should be the food of choice. But why is it considered so beneficial?

Wild pacific salmon

Nutrient Profile of Wild-Caught Salmon

The secret lies in its rich nutrient profile. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA, salmon provides essential building blocks for neurotransmitters - those vital messengers in our brain.

These Omega-3s improve memory, learning capacity, and mood and help lower inflammation and insulin resistance, which are detrimental to our cognitive functions.

Besides these benefits, another advantage of incorporating wild-caught salmon into your diet is its keto-friendly. This means it can provide ketones as an alternative fuel source for the brain when you're on a ketogenic diet or practicing intermittent fasting.

Last but certainly not least is astaxanthin – this pink pigment found abundantly in wild-caught salmon is a powerful antioxidant that shields neurons from damage by free radicals.

Conclusion

Brains need fuel. And not just any kind - the best kind. Remember how your brain gobbles up 20% of your energy intake? That's because it's working hard, even when you're chilling out.

Omega-6 fatty acids and refined carbs can be bad news for our brains. They cause inflammation and insulin resistance, a no-go for optimal brain health.

Diet matters, too! Alzheimer’s disease is linked to nerve insulin resistance, while gluten-related gut issues can lead to dementia. Food choices do matter!

What is the best food for brain health? It must be wild-caught salmon, with its stellar nutrient profile packed with omega-3 fatty acids that lower inflammation and boost cognitive function.

To wrap it up, Feed your brain well; remember, you are what you eat – especially where cognition is concerned!

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