Functional Nutritionist and Chōsen Experiences Expert Elisa Haggarty shares her brain superfoods.
This article is contributed by our partners at Chōsen Experiences. Read below for a special offer!
The food we consume has a direct impact on physical health and performance, this we know. But often, these factors rank higher in importance than our brain health and mental function. The nutrients we get from what we eat affect everything from brain cell growth and regeneration, to our rational thinking capabilities and capacity to cope with anxiety and depression.
So what should you be eating to ensure your brain is performing at its optimum level? Start with these simple cerebral superfoods.
Cold Water Fish
Some of the most beneficial nutrients for your brain (and the rest of your body) are omega 3 fatty acids – found in high quantities in cold water fish.
Omega 3 fats have countless positive effects on the brain, from promoting the growth of healthy brain cells to improving mood and enhancing memory.
To ensure you’re getting enough omega 3 fatty acids incorporate 1-2 serves of cold water fish into your diet each week. Ideally, opt for varieties like sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring, which have lower levels of mercury, and buy wild caught fish over farm-raised.
Eggs are a rich source of chloride, an essential nutrient that helps brain function and boosts memory and cognitive abilities. Egg yolks also contain vitamin B12, and vitamin D, which works as a modulator in brain development.
Berries in general, and blueberries in particular are packed with flavonoids and antioxidants that assist brain function and increase blood and oxygen supply to the brain by activating certain enzymes in our body. The antioxidants in berries also protect cells from free radical damage.
Probiotic Rich Foods
Maintaining strong gut health is essential to ensure optimum brain performance and mental well-being. This is because a thriving bacterial ecosystem in the gut directly impacts the functioning of the vagus nerve, which is responsible for a range of crucial brain functions including the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin (aka the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter). A strong digestive system even has the receptors and ability to produce its own Benzodiazepine, a chemical that helps the brain manage anxiety and stress.
The simplest way to create a healthy bacterial ecosystem in the gut is through a diet high in prebiotic rich foods – think leeks, asparagus, garlic, onions, artichokes and dandelion greens. It’s also a good idea to limit your sugar intake, as sugar directly damages the gut and microbe production.
Raw cacao is one of the most powerful brain superfoods, packing 40 times more antioxidant potency than blueberries and high levels of magnesium, which aids brain function. The mighty cacao bean also contains phenylethylamine, an adrenal-related chemical that naturally improves mood and focus, and anandamide, which has been found to counteract depression and anxiety.
But just remember, more processed forms of cacao contain far fewer brain-aiding nutrients, so be sure to buy powders and bars that contain organic raw cacao and natural sweeteners like honey or agave rather than refined white sugar.
Chōsen Experiences create small group transformative travel experiences that combine wellness coaching and pro-athlete fitness training with adventure activities and expert workshops. Each 7-day Chōsen Bali retreat is an active vacation designed to challenge and stimulate participants to optimize their mental and physical performance. These are holistic wellness holidays taken to a whole new level.
Elisa Haggarty is a Functional Nutritionist whose expertise helps shape the superfood-centric menus of each Chōsen retreat. She is also leading a Chōsen fitness, nutrition and lifestyle optimization program in Bali from 5-11 August.
*Terms and conditions apply: offer valid for bookings made by 31 July 2017 and is subject to availability and restrictions.