Making this year a success requires making good decisions. And we can’t make good decisions if we don’t feed our brains well. We think so much about healthy eating for our bodies, but what about healthy food for our brains? Try this blueberry brain smoothie to fuel your brain and start your day right.
Our Brains – Expensive Real Estate
Our brains are the most expensive real estate in our bodies, requiring the most resources. Although only 2% of our body weight, our brains use 20% – 30% of the calories we consume as well as 20% of the oxygen and blood flow.
Dr. Daniel Amen – The Brain Doctor
I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Dr. Daniel Amen while working with The Daniel Plan. Dr. Amen is a famous brain doctor, New York Times best-selling author, and co-creator of The Daniel Plan. He is also the founder of Amen Clinics, along with his wife Tana, which has helped thousands of people.
The Daniel Plan Rally
This past weekend I participated in the 2015 kick off rally for The Daniel Plan. It was held at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Thousands were live on campus, and many more were watching the simulcast online. It was a fantastic day of learning how to live a healthier life. I was able to talk with Dr. Amen and shoot this quick video about healthy brain foods.
“Eating right is critical to thinking right”, says Dr. Amen. The better the fuel, the better we are able to make smart decisions.
Dr. Amen has discovered through his clinical work that as weight goes up, our ability to think and reason goes down. If that doesn’t motivate us to eat healthy I don’t know what will.
Healthy Brain Foods
Smarter food choices means healthier brains, so here’s a partial list of good foods to include in your diet.
- Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, acai berries, and pomegranates seeds are all good. Research shows that blueberries in particular help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Berries are antioxidant powerhouses.
- Avocado – Full of healthy omega 3 fats to improve mood and lessen anxiety, plus vitamin E, another important antioxidant.
- Salmon – Excellent source of brain-healthy omega 3 fats. So are other lean proteins like eggs (omega-3 enriched), skinless chicken and organic soybeans (organic only or you risk buying genetically modified soy).
- Vegetables – Leafy greens like spinach and kale are filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids, powerful brain protectors which slow mental decline due to aging. Also asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage.
- Bananas – Full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that play a supporting a role in keeping brains functioning at optimal levels. They also contain high levels of tryptophan, which converts into serotonin. Bananas are happy mood food.
- Spices -They do more than add taste
- Cinnamon – Helps boost attention, focus, and regulate blood sugar
- Turmeric – Found in curry powder, with the active ingredient curcumin, a powerful inflammation fighter
- Saffron – Can have anti-depressant effects and improves memory
- Herbs – Potent brain protectors
- Oregano, garlic and rosemary all increase blood flow to the brain
- Almonds – Including almond milk and butter. A good source of healthy fat and vitamin E, which may help reduce cognitive decline as we age. Almonds also contain brain nutrients riboflavin and L-carnitine, that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Walnuts and Brazil nuts are good too.
- Cocoa powder – Be sure to buy raw unsweetened. Full of beneficial plant compounds called flavinoids, which may help lower blood pressure, support healthy cholesterol, improve regulation of blood sugar and brain function. Also a good source of antioxidants, iron and magnesium.
The Beautiful Blueberry Brain Smoothie
Here’s a new smoothie recipe based on some of the wonderful brain-healthy ingredients above. It will help you to get not only the New Year, but each day, started off right.
Last note – As our brains are about 80% water, be sure to drink plenty of fresh, clean water each day. Aim for about half of your body weight in ounces.
For More Reading
- Best Brain Foods List from The Daniel Plan website
- Ten Ways to Conquer Your Cravings (for a healthy brain), by Dr. Daniel Amen
- The Amen Clinics website, for more information on Dr. Amen’s work and best-selling books
- Best Brain Foods, from WebMD
- The Best Foods for Your Brain, from Prevention
- Brain Healthy Spices list from Dr. Amen
- Food For Brain Health, from the Cleveland Clinic
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Blueberry Brain Smoothie | The Best Brain Foods
- 8-10 ounces almond milk preferably homemade
- 3/4 cup blueberries or blackberries
- 1 big handful baby spinach leaves
- 2 teaspoons raw unsweetened cocoa powder optional
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 small banana or half of a large
- 1 scoop protein powder
- Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.