By Kayla Barnes
Food is much more than just calories. It's information for our cells. Science confirms that a healthier brain leads to a happier and more successful life, so eating for optimal health and cognitive function is essential.
We can boost our brain reserves and increase vital mood-boosting chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA through the foods we eat.
DOPAMINE: Dopamine is one of over one hundred neurotransmitters in the human brain. It is the primary brain chemical messenger responsible for making us feel motivated. Dopamine delivers a sense of satisfaction in our mind after accomplishing a task. Often called the "motivation molecule," dopamine provides the drive and focus we all need in order to be productive. It is heavily involved with our attention span, focus, follow-through, motivation, and the ability to experience pleasure.
DOPAMINE BOOSTING FOODS: Found in protein-rich foods that decrease insulin. Top sources: Beans, meats (wild-caught fish, grass-fed lamb, pasture-raised chicken), eggs, nuts, seeds, high protein and organic veggies (broccoli and spinach), and clean protein powders.
SEROTONIN: Serotonin impacts every part of our body, from our emotions to our motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. Serotonin also helps reduce depression, regulate anxiety, and can help improve our sleep.
SEROTONIN BOOSTING FOODS: Believe it or not, carbs (smart carbs specifically) can increase our serotonin levels. Smart carbs are low glycemic, high fiber carbs (carbs that do not raise your blood sugar!) Top sources: Sweet potatoes, brown rice, steel-cut oatmeal, apples, cherries, and red bell peppers.
GABA: GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. GABA functions as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication among brain cells. GABA's primary role in the body is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system. GABA has been shown to increase relaxation, reduce stress, balance our mood, and help improve sleep.
GABA BOOSTING FOODS: Whole grains, bananas, broccoli, nuts, lentils, and green tea.
If you're aiming to reduce brain fog, improve your mood, or supercharge your brain, start with what you're putting on your fork.