You are here

Brain Food!

Did you know that our brains actually begin shrinking in young adulthood? Brain cells are some of the most nutritionally demanding cells in the body; the brain uses 20 percent of the body's metabolic fuel. In order to make sure your brain is functioning at its peak you need to feed it well. The nutrients in the foods we eat can affect memory, concentration, and the ability to learn and retain information. One key to optimal brain functioning is keeping a stable blood glucose level. Processed and refined carbohydrates and sugars can lead to glucose spikes, which aren't good for the brain. Eating complex carbohydrates like beans, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal help keep your blood sugar levels steady, and keep your brain happy. Choline is an essential nutrient for brain health. It speeds up the creation of a protein that helps transmit signals between brain cells. And communicating brain cells are healthy brain cells. Foods high in choline include eggs, milk, nuts, and some types of fish, including salmon, cod, and tilapia. Your brain also needs plenty of oxygen in order to function at its best. In order to get plenty of oxygen to the brain, you need iron, so your circulatory system can more efficiently carry that iron around. Meat is a good source of iron, but you can also get plenty of iron from seed oils and legumes, like lentils and black beans. Foods rich in Vitamin C help your body absorb iron, so add an orange to your dinner to increase the amount of iron in your blood. Finally, the brain needs essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s. These are compounds that your body can't make on its own. They affect mood, behavior, cell signaling, and many other important cellular functions. Fish, flaxseed, hemp seed, sunflower seeds, and leafy vegetables are great sources of essential fatty acids. As finals approach, make sure your brain is in tip-top condition: Eat plenty of green vegetables, beans, eggs, and fish. Make sure you eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels steady, and try to avoid short bursts of energy that you get from sugar and refined grains in favor of a steady stream of energy from complex carbohydrates. And don't forget to get some sleep while you're at it! The brain does need its rest, too. Resources: Kiefer, I. (2007). BRAIN FOOD. Scientific American Mind, 18(5), 58–63. Retrieved from MURRAY, M. T. (2014). second opinion. brain food. Better Nutrition, 76(1), 26–28. Retrieved from A possible brain food that you’ve probably never heard of. (2012). Harvard Health Letter, 37(5), 7. Retrieved from Boosting Our Knowledge of Brain Food. (2007). Agricultural Research, 55(10), 14–16. Retrieved from Brain Food! (2011). Nutrition Health Review: The Consumer’s Medical Journal, (107), 16. Retrieved from