Brain Food: How To Eat For Enhanced Cognitive Function & Better Mood

Brain Food: How To Eat For Enhanced Cognitive Function & Better Mood

January 22, 2019

The expression “food for thought” is actually quite a literal one if you really think about it. After all, the food that you eat is used to synthesize countless biomolecules that help you function on a daily basis.

While this website is largely behind the use of supplemental nootropics, it stands to reason that nutrition should be the first line of any cognitive enhancement regimen.

Unfortunately, the health and fitness industry tends to employ zealous marketing tactics that use dramatic, often fabricated before-and-after photos, celebrity testimonials, and ideal physique images tied to egregious diets and weight loss products.

Thus, it’s no wonder people are left between a rock and hard place when they read these nonsensical ads promising a firmer, leaner, and better-looking body (and sharper mind).

Falling Into The Trap of Fad Diets

Many readers are likely familiar with any one of the following popular fad diets; "Zone Diet", "Atkins Diet", "If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)", "South Beach Diet", "Weight Watchers", "Mediterranean Diet", "Paleo Diet" and the list goes on and on…

Websites, newspapers, magazines, television, radio and any other stream of media imaginable have advertisements promoting various "diets" to help the nearly 80 million obese adults in America drop weight and feel better mentally. By the way, that is over 1/3rd the U.S. population!  Obesity is truly an epidemic and it is far from being under control.

Even if you are not clinically obese, chances are you may be a bit overweight or carrying more than a desirable amount of body fat. In turn, this leads to subpar cognitive function because your diet is imbalanced.

By the same token, being severely underweight can suppress cognitive function as well.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way and you can change!  But first, you need to understand what a diet actually is, and more importantly, shift the way you look at food as a whole.

What The Heck Is A Diet?

Here is what the word "diet" means in the literal sense:

diet 1 |ˈdī-it|

noun

the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats: a vegetarian diet | a specialist in diet.

  • a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons: I'm going on a diet.
  • [as adj. ] (of food or drink) with reduced fat or sugar content: diet soft drinks.

With all the advances modern technology has brought humans, we are now much less active on a daily basis.  Even the majority of people who manage to hit the gym regularly are sitting on their rear ends for hours upon hours every day.  

As a result of our contemporary lifestyles, we tend to opt for whatever is most convenient, especially when it pertains to food.  

It is important for the sake of this article that you look at your "diet" as a lifestyle choice and that food be looked at as fuel for your brain and body.  

Think of it likes this: low-octane gasoline is not going to work in a diesel engine.  

Going on and off multiple extreme, impractical diets (and as a result, continuously dropping and gaining weight) is unhealthy, counterproductive and is not a long-term solution to any of the health problems that we are facing.  

Also, it is important that you understand this: your body and mind are a reflection of what you do and eat on a daily basis.

Genetics play a role in your health as well, but even those with the most gifted genetics, metabolically and cognitively speaking, will not be able to get away with eating a typical Western diet for long.  

Eventually, that person who was able to eat whatever they want will begin to put on excessive body fat, suffer from low energy, and lack proper mental acuity.

If things get out of hand for long enough, medical complications such as type-II diabetes or heart disease become much more probable; problems that can be avoided by simply understanding what you are putting in your mouth and why.

Why Your Food Choices Are so Critical

When it comes to improving your cognitive function and body composition, nutrition (aka diet) is king! You really are what you eat and it’s not a stretch to say you are what you eat, eats.  

It also safe to say that just about anyone reading this who is capable of making an honest assessment of their eating habits would agree that they could improve their diet in some capacity.

Even the majority of those who tend to lead healthy lifestyles know that there is always some room for improvement, but where does one start?

First let's consider a typical Western diet that is loaded in refined grains, hormone-injected meats, highly processed food, and snacks and beverages that are packed with added sugar.  

These foods provide a superfluous amount of calories and very little nutritive value (particularly micronutrients).

Here’s an example of the average American’s diet:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee with Cream & Sugar
  • Donut
  • Lunch
  • Soda
  • Fast Food (Burger, Fries, Etc.)
         Mid-Afternoon Snack
  • Soda
  • Candy Bar
          Dinner
  • Beer
  • Pizza
  • Wings
          PM Snack
  • Pop-Tarts or Ice Cream

If someone is trying to be healthy they may substitute an apple or some other fruit for one of their snacks or breakfast.  

They may even get a serving of vegetables in their take-out Chinese dinner. The sad reality is that most Americans simply do not know how to eat healthily or optimally.

Overfed & Undernourished

Even if you are one of those gym bros who lifts six times a week and follows a diet designed for ripped abs and striated glutes, there is a good chance you are not getting sufficient nutrients for optimal health and brain function.

Looking back at the above sample diet, the problem is that we are overfed yet undernourished.  Highly-processed foods, refined grains, and fast foods tend to be extremely calorie-dense and incredibly low in vital nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and quality protein.

Lacking these nutrients while eating too many calories spells disaster for your brain and your waistline. A vicious cycle starts where your energy needs are surpassed but your nutrient needs are being compromised.  

Essentially the cells of your body that require specific amino acids, fatty acids, and micronutrients to function properly are being starved and your brain knows this.  

The result is that you not only get fat, but you debilitate faster and are sadly expediting your own demise.  

These are just the cold hard facts, even if it sounds a bit harsh.  

The reality is that when you nourish yourself properly, your body and brain will flourish.  The beauty of it all is that you control what you put in your mouth.

So, doesn't it make sense to focus on foods that will improve not just your body composition but also the quality of your life?

Hopefully, the rest of this article will give you a better idea of how to treat your body and brain with the nutritional care they deserve.

How to Diet for Cognitive Function & Health

Food is good. It tastes good and can be good for you; by focusing on nutrient-dense foods with a specific lifestyle strategy in mind, you will gain control over your body and mind.  

Here are some general strategies and eating techniques that will allow you to use real food to be your friend and give you the benefits of myriad nootropics on a daily basis:

  • Eat a portion of lean turkey for dinner to get better sleep.
  • Turkey is nature’s richest source of the amino acid L-tryptophan - an essential precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which relaxes you.

  • Eat 5 to 6 servings of green vegetables daily.
  • Green vegetables, especially spinach, cabbage, collard greens, and broccoli, are loaded with micronutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, and many others. As noted earlier, micronutrients are critical for proper cognitive function.

  • Eat plenty of dietary fiber with each meal.
  • Many people lack a sufficient amount of fiber in their diet, which can lead to erratic blood sugar swings and poor gut bacteria balance (which has implications for neurotransmitter activity). Aim for at least 5 to 10 g of dietary fiber per meal to keep your gut (and brain) health in check.

  • Drink green tea or coffee earlier in the day to give yourself an extra “kick.”
  • Green tea and coffee are arguably the best natural sources of caffeine, a stimulant nootropic that boosts cognitive function. However, green tea also has the advantage of containing the potent antioxidant EGCG and the calming nootropic L-theanine.

  • Consume a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil per day for energy.
  • Coconut oil is a rich source of special dietary fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are absorbed differently from other triglycerides and are rapidly absorbed, causing them to be great sources of energy for your brain and many other tissues in the body.

  • Avoid large amounts of added sugar.
  • Consuming too much sugar (especially added sugar) can significantly impair your insulin sensitivity, meaning your body becomes less efficient at utilizing carbohydrates for energy. This drastically hampers cognitive function since blood sugar swings will make you feel lethargic and nauseated to the point that you can’t think or see clearly throughout the day.

  • Stay hydrated (preferably with water).
  • Water is the most essential liquid, and being dehydrated is a sure path to brain fog and lack of energy. Be sure to drink at least one ounce of water for every kilogram you weigh. For example, a 220-lb (100 kg) individual should consume 100 ounces of water per day.

    Supplements for a Brain-Boosting Diet

    While the tips in the article are certainly not everything that comprises a proper diet, they do cover the most basic necessities for healthy brain nutrition (especially for optimal cognitive function).

    In addition to “dieting for your brain,” supplementing with nootropics is one of the most practical ways to enhance cognitive function and block neurodegenerative processes. While diet should always be the first line of attack for health and longevity, many nootropic ingredients, like KSM-66® ashwagandha in BEST MOOD™, are not readily found in foods.

    The prudent option is to supplement with nootropics as part of your overall “brain food” regimen.  This will ensure you maximize your mental performance and stay healthy.

    If you’re not sure which nootropics to use, your best bet is to start with the Complete Mental Performance Stack as it covers all the bases for helping you make the most of every day without breaking the bank. Each Primal One product contains only science-backed ingredients in clinical doses, so even advanced nootropic users will benefit from using this stack.



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