Essential brain foods

PUBLISHED: 10:42 03 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:42 03 June 2016

A well oiled machine

A well oiled machine


Talking about brain-foods really brings together all the food groups we have covered over the past few weeks as there are several elements that combine to help our energy-hungry brains function in a stable way

Take carbohydrates for example, the brain uses glucose for fuel and as such thrives on complex carbs – and if you remember our feature ‘Life on Carbs’ you’ll know how to make a bee-line for the right kind. The slow energy release of these foods provides a constant stream of energy and as such, helps maintain stability.

We have also discussed fats, the good and bad kinds, and the former are essential for good brain function. It is widely publicised that omega 3 fatty acids provide good brain-food so up your intake of oily fish (salmon, herring and mackerel are great sources), flaxseeds and nuts (especially walnuts) if you have high hopes of conquering your mammoth tax return this month. Let’s not forget our omega 6 intake too which can be found in poultry, eggs, and avocados.

The ‘dry weight’ of our brains is composed of about 60% fat and 20% of this is made up of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Crucially, our bodies cannot produce these so it is important that we provide them - ideally in equal amounts – through our diet. But what we should not provide is the bad fats, remember those ‘trans fats’ or hydrogenated fats? Avoid them at all costs as they prevent the good fats working effectively.

A well oiled machine

Of course feeding our brain effectively does far more than improve focus. The brain pretty much controls every other function in our body through a highly complex network of neurotransmitters and chemical production. To put it simply, neurotransmitters affect our mood and we can have some control over this with our diet. They are made up of animo acids, some of which we can provide, for example, serotonin.

Some research has suggested that an imbalance in serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety and anger issues so maintaining a good balance may help us to cope in difficult situations. Perhaps there are exams coming up or the pressure is really on at work, so you’ll certainly not be doing yourself any harm by boosting your diet with vitamin B rich foods such as wholegrains, bananas, chicken, eggs, dairy foods, and shellfish. Vitamin B is widely known as the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin so give yourself a mood-food boost!

Now if your brain seems to be in constant over-drive and you find it difficult to relax, you may be lacking in magnesium. This essential mineral is known to relax muscles and nerves but can also activate the B vitamins necessary for serotonin production. Sounds like a great little multi-tasker so put: almonds, cashews, spinach, avocados, brown rice, apples, and carrots on your shopping list.

We often only correlate the foods we eat with the way we look but the relationship is far more complex and goes much deeper. We really are what we eat both physically and mentally so love your body and your brain. Speaking of love, sprinkle a touch of rosemary into your cuisine; this fragrant herb was used by ancient Greek scholars to enhance memory, and was also placed on the pillows of newly weds as a love charm. One herb, two great uses… worth a try?


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other West Essex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by West Essex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique West Essex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Monday, July 16, 2018

Pig & Whistle Restaurant offers an a la carte relaxed lunch, sun terrace dining, candlelit evening & relaxing Sunday lunch.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

West Essex Life weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search