As you know, food is fuel. Eating a balanced diet can help you feel healthier and more energized. One of the best benefits of eating well, however, is the effect it can have on your state of mind.
It’s not like a magical “brain food” exists that will instantly cure your need to check Facebook every five minutes, but certain foods can definitely help you feel more clear-headed and focused.
“Usually, nutrition doesn’t immediately change the way our brains work,” explains Jessica Crandall, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, she says that there are certain foods that might be particularly poised to help your brain.
“Carbohydrates are a good fuel source for our brains,” she says. “So if we’re looking to make sure we’re getting enough energy, that could be a really helpful way for our brains to be fueled correctly. Sometimes, when people go on extreme diets and they go on a low-carb diet, that can really impact their brain function. You have to make sure you’re getting the right kind of fuel.”
In addition to food, Crandall also stresses the importance of a balanced lifestyle — one in which you also get the appropriate amounts of sleep and exercise. But if you’re looking for ways to incorporate more brain-friendly foods into your diet, we’ve got you covered.
Here are a handful of foods to think about.
- OatsOats are one of the healthy carbs that Crandall recommends for brain fuel.
“Oats have good magnesium levels in them and that can actually help with good [brain] function,” she says.
Eat them with: fruit and yogurt, amongst other things.
- MackerelMackerel is one of Crandall’s favorite fatty fish recommendations. “They’re high in omega-3 content, which is really good for decreasing inflammation and fueling our bodies appropriately,” she says.
Eat it with: brown rice and your choice of vegetables.
- Chia SeedsChia seeds’ reputation for being a “superfood” might be a little dubious, but that’s no reason to totally ignore them. In addition to having a lot of fiber (which aids your digestion), they are also high in the omega-3 fatty acids that Crandall says can help fuel your brain.
Eat them with: acai bowls and oatmeal.
- SpinachCrandall says that leafy green vegetables, like spinach, are high in potassium, which can help with blood flow to the brain.
- WaterOkay, it’s not a food, but Crandall says the importance of staying hydrated can’t be emphasized enough.
“Good hydration definitely can make you feel more clear-headed,” she says. So while you probably don’t need to drink exactly eight glasses of water eight times a day, you should definitely be refreshing your brain with some good ol’ H2O. Listen to your thirst!
This article is brought to you thanks to Refinery 29!