July 15, 2020

July 15, 2020 | Articles


Six of the best foods to de-bloat your brain

Do you ever have those days when just getting out of bed feels like an achievement? You know, when your mind is all over the place and you just can’t think straight? These are the days it’s especially important to fill yourself up with brain foods to keep your mind clear, focused and happy. I call it de-bloating your brain!

Six of the best foods to de-bloat your brain

Do you ever have those days when just getting out of bed feels like an achievement? You know, when your mind is all over the place and you just can’t think straight? These are the days it’s especially important to fill yourself up with brain foods to keep your mind clear, focused and happy. I call it de-bloating your brain!

Did you know that there are certain foods that put us in a good mood, make us happier, reduce stress and even boost libido?  Certain nutrients in foods can support neurotransmitters that produce feel-good hormones and happy hormones, like serotonin and dopamine and keep the grey matter healthy.  

Thanks to science, researchers have actually been able to pin point nine nutrients that can boost our mood, combat depression: calcium, folate, chromium, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc.1

Here are six of my favourite foods to boost brain health and mood and a few ways to incorporate them into your life.

  1. Flaxseeds are an amazing source of Omega 3’s, in particular, the alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). ALA is linked to increased brain performance, mental alertness and clarity. They can also enhance your mood so you can have a better attitude towards work! Why not try my Baked Fish with Flaxseed Crust for an extra brain boost? 2

  2. Whilst spinach helped Popeye achieve his bulging muscles (seriously, have you seen those arms?), it’s one of those dynamic foods that help both brawn and brain. Diets rich in spinach have proven to maintain alertness because of its antioxidant profile. Antioxidants block the effects of free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Spinach consumption has even been linked to improved performance on a range of learning and memory tests! Try throwing spinach in your smoothie like I’ve done in this Choc Chip Mint Smoothie or swap-out your regular iceberg lettuce in your favourite salad. 3

  3. Up next we have one of the most famous brain foods out there – salmon. Salmon’s loaded with omega-3 fats, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Your brain thrives off omega-3 fats, as it supports proper brain structure and function. If you don’t receive enough DHA from your diet, your brain will be unable to work optimally; leaving it exposed to injury, disease, inflammation and reduced cognitive capabilities! Try out the Smoked Salmon Living Lentil Bowl below.  It’s the perfect recipe for a workday lunchbox.

  4. Another food that’s full of essential fatty acids that our brain loves are eggs. By consuming vitamin B12-rich eggs, you can be sure that you’ll help reduce your brain from shrinking and keep your work up to speed! Eggs are super easy to cook and versatile too. Enjoy them scrambled, poached or pan-fried in good quality oil for a boost!

  5. Avocados are a delicious and totally trendy source of essential fats, that help keep our blood flowing which in turn, keeps our brains healthy. They’re good for our skin, our cholesterol levels and our heart health. Avocados also help lower blood pressure, which can reduce our chance of developing degenerative diseases and high in vitamin E, an antioxidant-rich vitamin that protects our cells from damage. Enjoy avocado on toast in your salad or even in a smoothie.4

  6. Blueberries are one of the tastiest summer fruits around. They’re rich in antioxidants which helps fight against aging for both your skin and your brain! They help to reduce oxidative stress in the brain to keep you working efficiently all-day long. Try topping your oatmeal with blueberries or enjoying them as a snack mid-afternoon.5

I hope you enjoy my quick and easy Smoked Salmon Living Lentil Bowl, just make the lentils the night before then throw everything together in the morning.
It’s a great brain de-bloating dish.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 50 g (13/4 oz) brown lentils, rinsed
  • 375 ml (13 fl oz/11/2 cups) chicken stock or filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 handful coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 100 g (31/2 oz) baby English spinach leaves
  • 100 g (31/2 oz) smoked salmon
  • 35 g (11/4 oz/1/2 cup) snow pea (mangetout) sprouts
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic and ginger, then cook for 3–4 minutes, until softened.
  • Add the lentils, stock or water and cumin.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20–25 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Stir through the coriander and capers.
  • Arrange all the ingredients in serving bowls, then season with a grind of pepper (if using) and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

(1).  Sathyanarayana Rao, TS, et al. “Understanding Nutrition, Depression and Mental Illnesses.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 50, no. 2, 2008, p. 77, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/, 10.4103/0019-5545.42391. Accessed 4 May 2019.
(2) Gómez-Pinilla, Fernando. “Brain Foods: The Effects of Nutrients on Brain Function.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. 7, July 2008, pp. 568–578, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/, 10.1038/nrn2421.
(3) Millin, Paula, and Gina Rickert. “Effect of a Strawberry and Spinach Dietary Supplement on Spatial Learning in Early and Late Middle-Aged Female Rats.” Antioxidants, vol. 8, no. 1, 20 Dec. 2018, p. 1, www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/8/1/1/htm, 10.3390/antiox8010001. Accessed 11 Nov. 2019.
(4) Berry, Jennifer. “Is Avocado Good for Diabetes?” Medical News Today, Medical News Today, 23 Aug. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/310996.php#avocados_and_heart_health. Accessed 11 Nov. 2019.
(5) Shukitt-Hale, Barbara. “Blueberries and Neuronal Aging.” Gerontology, vol. 58, no. 6, 2012, pp. 518–523, www.karger.com/Article/FullText/341101, 10.1159/000341101. Accessed 11 Nov. 2019.
  


By Lee Holmes, nutritionist, 9 x author and director of www.superchargedfood.com and www.superchargeyourgut.com