Improved brain function is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to achieving massive success in your life… your brain is kind of a big deal.
When I decided to learn to fly helicopters, I quickly realized the volume of knowledge I needed to absorb in a very short time was going to push me to limits I had not yet been pushed.
I could not afford to have word loss, or an inability to make critical calculations on the fly or even forget things.
I needed to “stack the deck”… an “ace in the hole”… a “secret”, so as usual I turned to my friend Dan to get my brain firing on all cylinders.
Dan wrote a short article outlining the top 9 foods you can implement to improve brain function which is outlined below…
I find it funny how so many coaches completely ignore nutrition advice in their training or even business mentorship processes, even though nutrition can literally make or break your energy for the day.
Bad diet = Sub-optimal focus, energy, concentration, and memory.
Sure, some people “get away with it” – but they are certainly still suboptimal versions of themselves. You can only imagine what they would be capable of if they took their nutrition seriously.
Your brain is the control center of your body, it’s in charge of keeping your heart beating, keeping your lungs breathing, and it’s what allows you to move, feel, create, and think.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep your brain in peak working condition. A business is only ever as good as the brains behind it.
The foods you eat play a massive role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration.
So, why wouldn’t we take advantage of this?
Use these nine foods for a brain boost to get a leg-up on the competition!
- Fatty Fish
When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list. For a good reason too, there’s a ton of already existing data on what specific fish can do for our brains and how that impacts our long-term health. This type of fish you’re looking for should mostly include salmon, trout, and sardines, which are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
About 60% of your brain is made of fat, and half of that fat is the omega-3 kind. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how important these types of raw material are to the proper functioning of your brain.
Your brain specifically uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory.
Omega 3-s also have a couple additional benefits for your brain. For one thing, they may slow age-related mental decline and help ward off Alzheimer’s disease
On the flip side, not getting enough omega-3s is linked to learning impairments, as well as depression.
In general, eating fish seems to have a lot of positive health benefits for people.
For example, one study found that people who ate baked or broiled fish regularly had more gray matter in their brains. Gray matter contains most of the nerve cells that control decision making, memory, and emotion
In this case, more fish meant bigger brains… literally speaking. Overall, fatty fish is an excellent choice for brain health and should be in any entrepreneur’s diet at least 3-4 times per week.
Blueberries provide numerous health benefits due to their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content. But, some of the most impressive qualities about blueberries are the benefits they have that are specifically for your brain.
Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants act against both oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells. Further studies have shown that blueberries help improve memory and even delay short-term memory loss.
Long story short, blueberries are much more than just a run-of-the-mill healthy fruit, they are the business owners’ fruit of choice for maximum productivity and memory processing.
Turmeric has generated a lot of hype in the past several years. This deep-yellow spice is a key ingredient in curry powder and has a number of benefits for the brain (and your entire body for that matter, but we’ll save that discussion for another day).
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells.
For those who aren’t familiar with the physiology, this is a very impressive feat all by itself because it is very hard for a nutrient to be given “security access” to enter the brain, but your brain allows turmeric right in because of how beneficial it is.
Turmeric is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been linked to the
following brain benefits relevant to business owners:
- Improves memory: Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of this disease.
- Improves depression symptoms: It boosts serotonin and dopamine, which both improve mood. One study found curcumin improved depression symptoms just as much as a pharmaceutical antidepressant over six weeks.
- Helps new brain cells grow: Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. Because of this, it also helps delay age-related mental decline, but more research is needed in this area to make any type of major confirmation
To reap the benefits of curcumin, try cooking with curry powder, adding turmeric to potato dishes to turn them golden, or simply just throwing some of it into a daily smoothie.
All of our mothers were right, broccoli is completely packed with powerful plant compounds that exert excellent benefits on our health, including plenty of antioxidants (26).
It’s also very high in vitamin K, delivering more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) in a 1-cup (91-gram) serving.
This is important to care about because Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for
forming something known as “sphingolipids”, which is a type of fat that’s densely packed into brain cells. A few studies in older adults have linked a higher vitamin K intake to better memory. Beyond vitamin K, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which help protect the brain against damage.
Broccoli is something we all know we should have, and now we have a few more reasons to include it in our diet. It’s not just a health food, it means business.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage. You see, when people bring up “inflammation” or “free radicals” a lot of them don’t know that these things make their way up to the brain and damage the hippocampus which then reduces your memory capacity.
This is where pumpkin seeds step in and protect the brain through the various antioxidants that they contain. They’re also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.
Each of these nutrients is important for brain health:
- Zinc: This element is crucial for nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression and epilepsy.
- Copper: Your brain uses copper to help control nerve signals. And when copper levels are out of whack, there’s a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
- Iron: Iron deficiency is often characterized by brain fog and impaired brain function.
The research focuses mostly on these micronutrients, rather than pumpkin seeds themselves.
However, since pumpkin seeds are high in these micronutrients, you can likely reap their benefits by adding pumpkin seeds to your diet.
To put this all another way, don’t just wait for Halloween to eat some pumpkin seeds – add them to trail mixes or just eat them on their own as a snack.
- Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are packed full of a few different brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine (everyone’s favorite!), and antioxidants.
Flavonoids are simply a group of antioxidant plant-based compounds.
The flavonoids in chocolate gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. The research suggests that these compounds enhance memory and also help slow down age-related mental decline.
In fact, a number of studies back this up.
In one study including over 900 people, those who ate chocolate more frequently performed better in a series of mental tasks, including some involving memory, than those who rarely ate it. Chocolate is also a legitimate mood booster, according to research.
=One study found that participants who ate chocolate experienced increased positive feelings,
compared to participants who ate crackers. Who would have ever known that chocolate made people feel good!? Might have to contact Captain Obvious for that study design…
All jokes aside, getting some dark chocolate in your diet on a semi-regular basis isn’t a bad idea at all for brain optimization. Make sure it’s at least 70% dark, and going organic is also ideal here as some chocolate can be made very poorly.
Research has shown that eating nuts can improve markers of heart health, and having a healthy heart is linked to having a healthy brain.
Two birds with one stone, I’ll take it! A 2014 review showed that nuts can improve cognition and even help prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Also, another large study found that people who ate nuts regularly over the course of several years had a sharper memory, compared to those who didn’t eat nuts.
=This is probably because several nutrients in nuts, such as the healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E – have all also been associated with having brain-health benefits. Vitamin E shields cell membranes from free radical damage, helping slow mental decline and protecting the brain from the damage that stress can cause.
While all nuts are good for your brain, walnuts may have an extra edge, since they also deliver omega-3 fatty acids. And if you’ll remember, this is what gives fatty fish such a food reputation. All in all, getting in a small handful of raw (not roasted) nuts every single day can be an incredibly healthy thing for your entire body – brain included!
Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, and are probably the closest thing to a “superfood” in existence today. Specifically for the brain, eggs include plenty of vitamin B6 and B12, folate, and choline.
Choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.
Two studies found that higher intakes of choline were linked to better memory and mental function. Two wildly critical mental components for business success.
Pretty much everybody doesn’t get enough choline in their diet. Especially the cereal for breakfast type of people.
Eating eggs is an easy way to get choline, given that egg yolks are among the most concentrated sources of this nutrient in the entire nutrition world.
Adequate intake of choline is 425 mg per day for most women and 550 mg per day for men, and a single egg yolk contains roughly 112 mg. So, eggs contain a lot – but you might want to find some other sources of choline as well to meet your daily intake.
Furthermore, the B vitamins in eggs have several roles in brain health. To start, they may help slow the progression of mental decline. Also, being deficient in two types of B vitamins — folate and B12 — has been linked to depression.
Folate deficiency is common in elderly people with dementia, and studies show that folic acid
supplements can help minimize age-related mental decline. B12 is also involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain (69).
It’s worth noting that there’s very little direct research on the link between eating eggs and brain health. However, there is research to support the brain-boosting benefits of the nutrients found in eggs.
So, you can expect similar outcomes – but no exact cause-and-effect data has been produced yet. But, I would expect identically predictable outcomes, if not, even better outcomes due to the healthy fat content and various antioxidant content found within eggs.
Long story short, ditch the bagel and start having eggs in the morning.
- Green Tea
As is the case with coffee (and why so many of us jump to get our coffee first thing in the morning), the caffeine in green tea boosts brain function.
In fact, it has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory, and focus. Extremely impressive line up if you ask me. But, green tea also has other components that make it a brain-healthy beverage.
One of them is L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier (again, very deceptively impressive nutrient with security access to the brain) and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed.
L-theanine also increases the frequency of alpha waves in the brain, which helps you relax without making you feel tired. Perfect for public speaking for those of you who struggle.
One review found that the L-theanine in green tea can help you relax by counteracting the stimulating effects of caffeine.It’s also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that may protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Plus, green tea has also been found to improve memory.
So, if you want all of the above benefits – try replacing your daily coffee with green tea. Or, if you have two coffees per day and you absolutely love your coffee, try just replacing one of them with green tea.
There are many foods out there that can help keep your brain healthy and help keep it firing on all cylinders throughout the day so that you can get as much done as possible.
You now have the knowledge to help support your brain health and boost your alertness, memory and mood by strategically including these foods in your diet.
Take what you need, eliminate what you can, and get out there and dominate.
Coach Dan Garner is a world leading nutrition and strength and conditioning expert who works with professional athletes, Hollywood actors and people who seek to achieve the most out of their lives through healthy living. You can listen to Dan’s podcast called The Garner Report