8 Ways To Boost Your Brain Health Naturally
Have you ever just felt like your brain needs a little boost. Maybe your sitting at your desk and your brain is a little foggy. Maybe you have realized that forgetting things that seem “simple” to remember happens more often than not. Or maybe you just feel like every year your brain doesn’t feel quite as “quick” as it once was.
You’re definitely not alone!
After years of working as a counselor, studying as a student, and just being a regular human being it has really come to light just exactly how important mental/brain health truly is. Now I am not just talking about the emotional mental health we so often hear about, but also the health of our brains/minds in general. The rates of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other related disorders are increasing at an alarming rate; the same can be said for the rate of depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other brain/mood disorders.
But why now? What’s happening?
Well there are lots of theories. Most of them revolve around the constant stimulation that we undergo. Our minds are working harder and faster than they ever did 100 years ago. Other theories say that its the change in our diets and lifestyles as a whole. And still others say that there is no conclusive reason at all. What we do know is that without a properly functioning mind our quality of life quickly decreases.
A healthy mind means a healthy body…
We have heard this saying so often and it could not be more true. In fact every organ in the body’s sole FIRST function is to appease the brain and keep it healthy! The adrenals first job is to make sure blood sugar and blood pressure are adequate enough so that fuel is making it to the brain. The lungs primarily shuttle oxygen to the heart so that the heart can quickly pump blood to the brain with fresh nutrients. The digestive system breaks down carbs, fat, and protein into the right molecules so the brain can quickly absorb what it needs…It is a never ending list! The body does all this, and more, for a healthy functioning brain, and when that brain isn’t as healthy as it once was…well it starts to quickly require more and more from the other organs in the body, which takes the focus away from other things those organs need to be doing.
Remember the body itself is designed to work as a whole so when one thing suffers the rest will jump in to help BUT cannot fully take the place of it. Often our body tries to tell us that something is going on LONG before something truly goes haywire…
Some of the ways your brain might be telling you it needs a little more focus;
Frequent brain fog, or inability to concentrate on regular daily tasks
Mood imbalances, or chronic low mood
Frequent headaches/dizziness/light headedness
Memory loss or confusion
Sleep disturbances or trouble sleeping
Chronically low energy
So what can we do to help optimize our mental and brain health?
Hydrate. The brain it’s self is made up of 80% water, and EVERY chemical reaction that takes place within the brain requires water! In fact water is so important in the way that the brain functions that even a slight dip in hydration levels (we are talking less than 1%) can cause symptoms like; brain fog, dizziness, fatigue, disrupt to the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters, and cause headaches…Basically a bunch of symptoms that are seriously not fun! So staying hydrated by drinking 3 litres (or more depending on how active you are) is a must for optimal brain health!
Movement. Making sure you move your body is amazing for cardiovascular health, weight management, and blood sugar regulation. Yes we know that BUT did you know it does wonders for you mental health as well? In fact research shows that movement that increases heart rate and done for 30 minutes a day helps to improve memory, improve problem solving skills, and increases the development of new neurones and neurotransmitters which is all good news for mental health. On top of that regular movement of the body also has been show to decrease stress levels, which always does wonders for your mental health and clarity!
Sleep. Think of your brain like a giant computer. If it is left on all day, everyday, constantly working without a break it starts to over heat and things go a little wonky. Sleep gives our brains, and our bodies, time to decompress from the day, repair and rest. Studies have shown that driving, or doing another focused activity, on less than 5 hours of sleep is the equivalent to driving under the influence of 4 (or more) drinks…Wanna improve your brain health today…START making sure that you’re catching your z’s for at least 7-8 hours a night!
Probiotics. If you haven’t heard the gut being called the second brain you might be living under a rock somewhere…But in all seriousness, it’s absolutely true! Now there are many many reasons for this that I could get into BUT the biggest one is simply that the gut bacteria actually produces the majority of the serotonin in our body. Now if you haven’t figured it out by now serotonin is a feel good neurotransmitter that affects everything from your mood, social behaviour, sleep, and even memory. Having a gut full of good healthy bacteria, or probiotics, ensures that your gut is producing the right amounts of serotonin! You can get probiotics naturally from fermented foods like; kimchi, grass-fed yogurt, sour kuart, keifer, kombocha, and tempeh.
Carbohydrates. Although there are a lot of low carb diets that are trendy right now, like Keto, they are not necessarily great for optimal brain health as the brain does need sugar molecules (or carbohydrates) in order to function optimally. BUT here is the thing…too many carbs are not the best for the brain as well, I am sure we all know that feeling after a carb rich meal of the brain just wanting to shut down. For optimal brain functioning you want to make sure that you are still having a serving of carbohydrates with each one of your meals BUT making sure the majority (but not all) come from vegetables followed by smaller amounts coming from fruits and then grains. In other words making sure that you are eating more complex carbohydrates than simple ones. Carbohydrates are also the preferred source of fuel for the brain.
Dark Leafy Greens. Now Popeye might have been famous for his big muscles from eating all that spinach BUT he also had quick thinking, problem solving, and a balanced mind in order to fool all the rascals after him. Greens are chalked full of different vitamins, minerals, fibre (and in HIGH quantities too!) all of which are LOVED by the brain. Out of all these amazing nutrients magnesium and folate are the MOST beneficial to your brain functioning. Studies have shown that a shortage of either of these nutrients is linked to Alzheimers, mood disorders, and cancer. During this study they even took brain scans of the participants and those participants who ate just 2 servings of greens per day had younger looking brains! Try adding a dark leafy green like; arugula, kale, spinach, bok choy, or romaine to each meal through out your day and your brain will love you!
Balance your blood sugar. Because the brain is CONSTANTLY working it needs a consistent supply of nutrients which the blood delivers. Now this does not mean that you need to be eating 24/7 so that your brain can get all the nutrients that it needs to keep functioning. Actually, as discussed earlier, eating too much often makes the brain need to take a little nap. The key instead is making sure that your blood sugar is actually balanced so that there are no large spikes or dips in nutrients going to the brain. To do this make sure EACH AND EVERY meal contains a complex carbohydrate, moderate amount of protein, and a healthy fat! In fact healthy fats and protein are a MUST, and actually more important for blood sugar balance than carbohydrates…but yes carbohydrates are still the preferred fuel source of the brain. Some examples of some healthy fats and proteins to include into your meals are; pastured eggs, wild salmon (or other cold water fish), avocado, ghee, nuts and seeds.
Superfoods and Supplements. Doing all this already and want to give your brain even more of a boost? Herbs like Rhodiola, Ginkgo Biloba, Lions Mane Mushroom, and Rosemary have all been shown to improve brain functions like memory, problem solving skills, focus, and lift brain fog. Looking for brain boosting supplements? Adding Magnesium, B Vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids to your supplement game have all been shown to help focus the mind, balance mood, and increase memory!
Lately I have really been loving the Perfect Protein Elevated Brain Booster from Botanica! This protein powder not only has protein, which helps to balance blood sugar which the brain LOVES, but it also contains Lions Mane, Rhodiola and B Vitamins to help give your brain even more of boost. It also is the first VEGAN protein powder that I have tried and used that has not caused me gut issues, probably due to the fact that the protein is coming from FERMENTED quinoa and brown rice which are more gentle on the digestive system than beans/peas used in many other vegan proteins. It also blends up really well into my smoothies and bliss balls giving them a touch of brain boosting goodness!
You can find Bontanica’s Perfect Protein Elevated Brain Booster in most health food stores or you can order it online here to give it a try yourself!
Disclaimer note: The tips offered above have worked for many of my clients, as well as myself, BUT each and everyone of our bodies work in different way. Because of differences in genetics, stress levels, and general health it is important to consult a Nutritionist or another health profession before stepping into a healing journey.
This post was sponsored by Botanica, however all the information and opinions are my own.