Top Five Foods to Feed Your Brain
Tips on fueling your mind from Dr. Drew Ramsey MD, superfood guru and author of 50 Shades of Kale
The foods we eat are shrinking our brains. Eating the Modern American Diet (MAD) of white carbohydrates, sugars, and the wrong fats also causes physical and mental disorders that, although devastating, can be cured and prevented through prioritizing the number one most important organ in the human body — the brain.
The nutrients that develop the brain come from the foods we eat and statistics show that although most Americans are over-fed, we are “grossly nutrient deficient,” said Dr. Drew Ramsey, MD in a recent TedX talk called “5 Foods to Save Your Brain and the Planet.”
Dr. Ramsey suggests, “find out what your brain needs, and then nourish it with food.” By eating foods rich in nutrients that fuel the human brain, we’ll suffer from fewer mental and physical disorders, and intentionally allow our brains to re-grow brain cells and make new, better connections — a process called neuroplasticity.
Dr. Ramsey says that by adding the following five foods to our diets, we’ll not only rewire our brains but we’ll raise our IQs and enhance our ability to make good decisions.
- Leafy Greens. Dr. Ramsey is a big fan of kale, but all leafy greens deserve a spot at your dinner table. Not only do these plants increase your liver’s detox ability, they fit with Dr. Ramsey’s three keys to food-selection: they have a high nutrient density, have flexible preparation methods, and are widely available everywhere.
- Seafood. Small fish (such as anchovies, sardines, herring), Bi-vavoes (oysters, mussels, clams), and fatty fish (wild-caught salmon, mackerel, rainbow trout) contain the most essential nutrients our brains need. Not all fish are created equal, though. Carefully select the seafood you’re eating to prevent ingesting high levels of toxins found in factory-farmed fish or mercury often found in some ocean fish.
- Nuts. The FDA recently announced that nuts have 25% fewer calories than previously thought, so eat a handful of raw almonds and let go of the guilt.
- Beans/Legumes. These foods provide a key nutrient for brain health, vitamin B9, as well as fiber and phytonutrients that keep our gut bacteria healthy. This has both direct effects on the brain and also helps protect individuals against heart disease, diabetes, and illness that can cause mental disorders and disease.
- Dark Chocolate. Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, and cacao itself, has been linked to lower occurrences of age-related memory decline and it boosts one’s focus through improved brain function.
After adding these foods to our diets and making sure to eat small portions of carefully selected seafood and meats on occasion, we can consume more than enough nutrients to reverse most deficiencies present in our bodies.
Dr. Ramsey also offers five simple tips to remember when shopping for and preparing your brain food.
- Eat foods that Mother Nature grows for us. Eat plants and other whole foods that require little or no processing and you’ll reverse current deficiencies and regrow your brain cells.
- Visit your local farmer’s market each week. You’ll eat seasonally and locally (which is best for your body and the planet), talk directly with the farmers and suppliers of your food, and connect with like-minded friends doing the same. “There is a spiritual aspect to food selection that most people miss,” Dr. Ramsey said. “Connecting with food growers can be very meaningful, very deep, because it gives you a sense of the greater order of things and reminds you of the connection between us all.”
- Eat the rainbow. By eating diverse and colorful fruits and vegetables, you’ll be fueling your brain and body with a variety of vital phytonutrients while delighting your tastebuds and trying new things.
- Give yourself permission to fail in the kitchen! If you start with whole foods that are packed with flavor and nutrients, chances are, whatever you make will taste great! If not, compost it, eat a kale salad with olive oil and lemon, and try again next time. Great cooks fail all the time. Check out Dr. Ramsey’s kale recipes in 50 Shades of Kale for inspiration.
- If you’re reading ingredient labels constantly, return to step #1 (eating foods fresh from the Earth). Even foods we think are healthy are often packed with chemical preservatives and less-than-healthy additions. So, skip the label studies and buy whole foods.
Feel inspired? Click here for kale recipes from 50 Shades of Kale.