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Updated: Jan 24

Your brain is a hard worker. Did you know your brain consumes more energy than any other organ, up to twenty percent of your body’s total energy use? So if you want this hard-working organ to function at its best, you must feed it right.

Brain working out

Nourishing your brain is more than just about the food you put in. You need to feed your brain in six ways: stress reduction, exercise, sunlight, being outdoors, sleep, and food. Each of these is just as important as the others. Working on each is critical if you genuinely want to improve your brain function.

The first is relieving stress. Chronic stress has an incredibly negative effect on your brain. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can cause brain atrophy and reduce volume. Reducing stress is too big of a topic to cover in this article, so check out our article, Stress 101, for ways to help you reduce stress.

The brain needs two types of exercise, physical and mental. Activity that promotes circulation is excellent for your old bean, such as moderate or vigorous cardiovascular exercise (brisk walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, etc.). Shoot for at least 150 minutes a week of these exercises, divided into multiple sessions (always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have heart problems). These aerobic exercises help increase brain volume and reduce the risk of dementia. Yoga, Tai-Chi, and dancing also have shown lots of benefits. So get moving!

There are so many great ways to exercise your brain. However, don’t rely on apps that cater to improving brain function. Most of them are not nearly as effective as they claim to be.

  • Jigsaw Puzzles

  • Cards

    • There is never a wrong time to take up poker.

  • Learning a new language

    • Choose a place you always wanted to go and tell your significant other you need to go there to learn the language. It’s ok if you just want to eat chocolate croissants in Paris, they don't need to know that's why you chose french.

  • Learn a new skill.

  • Teach someone else a skill you know.

  • Listen to and learn to play music.

  • Meditation

  • Experiment with new ways of doing things.

    • Take a different route to the store or work.

    • Do a task differently than you usually would.

Believe it or unlight.not, sunlight is one of the best ways to feed your brain. At sunrise, before looking at your phone and turning on the tv, get barefoot, go outside and get at least fifteen minutes of morning sunshine with your feet in the grass. This is how the body is meant to wake up and greet the day. It will make a massive difference in your health, improve sleep, reduce inflammation, and make your whole day seem better. Then at sunset, do the same thing again. It will make a big difference in your sleep and how you feel. Our bodies are meant to get morning and sunset sunshine. At night after sunset sunlight, wear proper blue light blocking glasses to ensure that blue light from phones, computers, and TVs do not reverse many of the benefits of sunset sunlight. Unfortunately, most blue light glasses do not block much blue light (despite their claims). Here is our pick, which blocks over 95% of blue light. Properly made blue light glasses are one of the best ways to support your brain and improve sleep.

Happy sun

The sun is one of the brain's best friends!

Next up in our brain-feeding journey is being outdoors in nature. The fresh air and connection to nature have soo many benefits. Bonus points if you can walk around barefoot, this is called grounding. It reduces stress and anxiety, improves the immune system, reduces inflammation and improves creativity, concentration and focus, and much more. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get hiking.

Sleep is next on our list. We all know getting a good night's rest is essential, but did you know how important it is to your brain? Sleep loss can make it hard to focus and concentrate during the day. It also can make your mood much worse. In addition, long-term sleep deprivation can lead to a host of cognitive issues. Sleep is too big of a topic to cover in this article, so click the box below to download our guide to healthy sleep.

Rooted Nutrition Sleeping Guide
Download PDF • 2.16MB

Age, certain medications, and some restrictive diets can cause a b-12 deficiency that often manifests as cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer-like symptoms. Unfortunately, standard blood testing does not always detect deficiency of b-12 in tissues and the brain. As a result, many people are deficient in b-12 even though their blood test shows normal levels. Therefore, we recommend this at-home test (we have no affiliation with the company) to measure your b-12 levels.

Another issue that can arise is the rapid onset of delirium, confusion, and other symptoms in some older adults. This can often result from an untreated urinary tract infection without traditional urinary tract infection symptoms. If you notice symptoms like this in you or a loved one, get to a doctor immediately to get tested.

Make sure to drink plenty of water and get lots of electrolytes because a hydrated brain is a happy brain.

flavored water recipes

While many foods benefit your brain, we wanted to review some foods that seem to have the most significant benefits.

Probiotic Foods - Your gut and brain have a connection, often called the gut-brain axis. Sometimes the gut is referred to as the second brain. Eating probiotic-rich foods can help to nourish that connection.

Pastured eggs are rich in DHA, b-vitamins, phosphatidylcholine, and much more. These nutrients help your brain to function at its best. DHA and phospholipids, in particular, help to support the structure and volume of your brain.

Avocados are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium (if you are on a potassium-restricted diet, do not start eating more potassium foods), which can help reduce blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of dementia. Avocados are particularly rich in vitamin E and K, which help to reduce stroke risk. The antioxidants in avocados help to reduce inflammation in the brain. Maybe the millennials are right about something.

Blueberries are one of the most potent brain foods you can get. There is a lot of research showing tremendous benefits. They reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and improve memory and blood flow. Frozen blueberries (checkout Stahlbush Farms if you want the most delicious frozen blueberries) are best when fresh blueberries are not in season because they are picked at the peak of ripeness, whereas fresh blueberries are often picked unripe. A big handful of blueberries daily is one of the best ways to support your brain.

Other fruits such as strawberries, apples, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, guava, pineapple, and more are also great for brain health. So eat plenty of fruit!

Wild-caught fish - You’ve probably heard someone call fish brain food, and they would be correct. Fish are rich in fats (such as omega-three) essential to the brain's structure and volume. They also help to reduce inflammation and circulation in the brain. Unfortunately, good-quality wild-caught fish can get expensive. Some easy, more affordable ways to get more fish in your diet is to get canned wild sardines, mackerel, and salmon (avoid eating a lot of tuna because it is higher in mercury than most fish) with the skin on. You can find them at any grocery store. Just make sure they have no added vegetable oils. It’s best to get them packed in water. Canned wild-caught fish is also one of the best, most affordable proteins!

Low-heavy metal Uturunku Ceremonial Cacao is a fantastic brain food. This type of cacao is rich in bioactive compounds and tryptamine. Take it in the evening to help promote healthy brain function. It is made from a rare variety of cacao hand-harvested and processed in Tarapoto, Peru. Regular cacao does not have anywhere near the levels of tryptamine and bioactive compounds.

Cacao pods and beans

Cacao is a sacred food with so many incredible benefits.

Grass-fed liver (and other organ meats) is one of the best brain foods. It is rich in b vitamins, vitamin A, minerals (such as zinc and iron), and choline. Think of it as the food equivalent of a multivitamin for your brain. In addition to being rich in those nutrients, it contains them in their most usable and bioavailable forms.

High polyphenol olive oil is another excellent brain food. Not only does good olive oil have fats that are great for the brain, but it also has polyphenols that are potent antioxidants. Look for olive oil with its polyphenol content tested and containing at least 900 mg/kg. Unfortunately, a lot of olive oil has little to no polyphenols because it is adulterated with seed oils. Check out Extra Virginity to learn about how prevalent olive oil adulteration is. Hint, it’s very prevalent. Most olive oil is adulterated (yes, even the organic ones from the health food store). Avoid olive oils that list multiple countries of origin on the label, as these are the most likely to be adulterated. One to two tablespoons of good olive oil per day has enormous benefits. Eat it off the spoon or drizzle it on food, rather than cooking it, for maximum benefit.

We often get asked what our number one brain food is. That food is wild salmon roe. Fish eggs have so many benefits that it’s hard to know where to begin. Check out this article to learn more about them. If you could only do one brain food daily, one tablespoon of wild salmon roe should be it. You can buy high-quality wild salmon roe here, here, and here, or call your local fish monger to see if they have some. If eating fish eggs is not your cup of tea, freeze-dried wild salmon roe capsules are a great option.

There are a lot of supplements that can help to keep your brain healthy, but we wanted to focus on a few of our favorites.

First up is unrefined omega-three supplements. Nearly everyone in the United States consumes far too much omega-six and far too little omega-three. Your ratio of omega-six to omega-three should be 2-3:1, but most people are over 50-100:1. You can order an at-home test (we have no affiliation with the company)to see your levels. We highly recommend doing that. Increasing the amount of omega-three and decreasing the amount of omega-six (it is just as important to lower your omega-six intake as it is to increase your omega-three) in your diet is the best way to support not just your brain health but also the health of your whole body. Omega-three is an essential nutrient for the brain. The best source of omega-three is wild-caught fish. Second to that is a whole food, unrefined omega-three supplement. Most omega-three products are heavily refined and processed. Unfortunately, that strips out many of the beneficial nutrients and fatty acids in them. Think of white bread versus whole wheat bread. The heavy processing also changes the fatty acids' structure to a form not found in food. These are not the same fatty acids you get in fish. You can see our choice of whole-food, unrefined, omega-three fatty acid supplements here. These virgin fish oils are also rich in vitamins A and D and other critical brain-supporting nutrients. You can read more about the difference between whole food and refined fish oils here.

cod liver oil production process

There is a massive difference in the production of whole food fish oil and traditional fish oil products.

Next up is concentrated black maca. This incredible food helps to support healthy focus, concentration, and energy levels. It is the perfect food for fighting that afternoon brain fog. Unfortunately, too many maca products are not made correctly and contain compounds such as mold and high levels of goitrogens that can have the opposite effect of what you are looking for. Check out this article to learn what it takes to make a good maca supplement. Try gradually replacing your morning coffee with it. Your body will thank you!

An excellent whole food complete probiotic supplement (containing whole-food prebiotics, live probiotics, and postbiotics in adequate amounts) to support your gut-brain axis is another way to support your brain. Unfortunately, nearly all probiotics are anything but live and whole food. Check out this article to find out what goes into making a real, live whole-food probiotic supplement.

Last is our whole food “multivitamin” for your brain and our favorite brain health supplement. Whole Brain contains grass-fed ovine brain (there is no risk of BSE), pituitary gland, hypothalamus gland, pineal gland, and beef liver. This blend of foods is rich in many of the nutrients that your brain needs, in forms that are far more bioavailable than the types found in other foods. Brain is rich in phospholipid-bound omega fatty acids and other fat-soluble nutrients that can cross the blood-brain barrier and be utilized by the brain. The brain is also rich in sphingomyelin, which supports a healthy central nervous system. Liver is rich in b-12 and folate, essential nutrients for brain function, and chromium, which helps to support healthy hypothalamus gland function. This product is packed with brain-supporting nutrition. No other supplement comes even close to the nutritional punch for your brain that this does.

It's time for you to get outside in the sunshine (barefoot), take a hike in the woods, and eat your brain-boosting foods, because there is never a better time to start than today!

happy dog running by a creek in a field

Don't forget to take your dog with you!


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