Consumers are becoming more sophisticated regarding cognitive enhancement with nootropics and mental performance products like Qualia, but it’s important to not overlook the foundation of our diet.

When talking about nutrition, the importance of fueling your body with whole, clean, nutrient-dense food, is typically spoken about regarding fitness, weight loss, chronic illness. But it is rarely discussed as a matter of brain health. This is a major oversight, considering that all of the aforementioned categories are directly impacted by the strength and health of cognitive function. Underlying focus, energy, physical movement, mood, and motivation, is the the brain’s ability to healthfully optimize our behaviors.

Just like the rest of your body, your brain functions best when given high quality fuel which helps to nourish, support, protect and upgrade your mind. This is ensured via a variety of vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals and compounds. Every system of the body is interconnected in working to form the overall profile of our neurohealth.

Fiber, for example, directly impacts digestive health, thus lessening the risk of digestive, metabolic and chronic illness, however the digestive health that results from a fiber-rich diet also keeps your gut health strong, which in turn directly affects the hormones that impact cognitive function. Neurohacker Collective specializes in products and education on using a whole systems approach when designing optimal diets for brain health.

Conscientious nutrition provides a whole host of health benefits that not only help to maintain healthy weight, reduce risk of chronic illness, reduce inflammation, and support immune system strength, but also work collectively to keep your brain functioning at an optimal level.

So what’s the “best” nutritional option or dietary plan for optimizing cognitive function? When is comes to daily eating, individual dietary choices depend on a variety of factors, such as lifestyle, heritage, financial, genetic, and medical parameters. So while there isn’t a prescriptive ‘1 size fits all’ approach to diets, when it comes to specific foods that help protect neurons and boost cognitive function, there are a few top runner, ‘smart’ foods you may want to load up on:

Celery: Celery contains a plant compound called luteolin, which helps calm inflammation in the brain; inflammation being the number one cause of neurodegeneration. Studies from the Institute of Human Genetics in Regensburg, Germany have shown that luteolin may be a promising candidate to develop immuno-modulatory and neuroprotective therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

Walnuts: An excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fats as well as phytosterols and antioxidants, the compounds in walnuts have been shown to help reverse age-related cognitive decline and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as improve memory and protect brains cells from oxidative damage.

Blueberries: Eat your (natural) sweets! Fresh berries, with an emphasis on blueberries, are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, and have been linked to improved memory and learning capability. The high concentration of gallic acid also found in blueberries helps protect cognitive function by working to reduce oxidative stress, which can lead to neurodegeneration.

Cauliflower and Broccoli: Both of these cruciferous veggies are excellent sources of choline, helping to boost cognitive function, increase attention and memory, improve learning and even slow memory decline that typically comes with age.

Avocado: Avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind of fat that can help decrease LDL/bad cholesterol while improving HDL/good cholesterol) thus encouraging healthy blood flow while reducing the risk of stroke. The vitamin K in avocados protect the brain from stroke by reducing the risk of blood clots. Avocados are also rich in folate, which is essential to brain health, cognitive function, and memory. A triple whammy for neuro support and protection.

Beets: If you’re big into fitness, you may already be aware of this, but beets contain natural nitrates that can actually boost blood flow throughout the body; resulting in increased mental sharpness, performance, and energy. A study from the Department of Pharmacology, Bio-analytical Research Laboratory in India also found that beetroot can also significantly impact and reduce stress-induced ‘neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression’, by reducing and preventing oxidative stress in the body.

Leafy Greens: According to research from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), regular intake of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard can help protect the brain from cognitive decline and dementia. As noted in their findings, “the researchers tracked the diets and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years and saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline for study participants who consumed greater amounts of green leafy vegetables. People who ate one to two servings per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.” This is largely attributed to the vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene found in leafy greens, which all work to reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function and help reduce neurodegeneration.

Learn more about optimizing brain health at neurohacker.com