Laura Bolton is a Paleo lifestyle coach, passionate about empowering others to thrive through food. Here she shares her top tips to optimise Paleo for a super brain…
Optimising Paleo for a super brain
Symptoms such as brain fog, low mood, forgetting things, difficulty focusing, and slow processing speed are becoming more and more common these days, and diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons are on the rise. Thankfully we have good idea as to why. You aren’t sentenced by your genes and it isn’t an inevitable part of getting older!
The most highly regarded and respected experts in the health world are in agreement as to the primary cause. Whether it be Mark Hyman (author of The Mind Solution and creator of the Broken Brain series and podcast), Dave Asprey (author of Headstrong), Jim Quick (the world’s top memory expert), David Perlmutter (author of Grain Brain and Brain Maker), or Max Lugavere (author of Genius Foods), to name a few. They all agree on one thing – it is very much down to our lifestyle…. the foods we eat, our levels of stress, the quality of our sleep, the way we move, and our physical environment. And all of these are becoming more and more mismatched with how we, as humans, are designed to live.
Prevent dementia AND help your brain work optimally NOW
Whilst it may seem gloomy this is actually fantastic news, because it means we have the power to take control of our health and do something to prevent and treat these symptoms. And the bonus is that all the things we can do to help prevent dementia will also help our brains to work optimally in the here and now!
The experts recommend adopting the Paleo lifestyle for good reason…. it eliminates many of the foods that can cause inflammation – such as grains and dairy, and has us living more in line with nature.
However what we eat within the Paleo template also matters greatly. There is most certainly an optimal way to do it. What you eat matters as much as what you avoid. For example, I know people who avoid non-Paleo foods (good start) yet are eating very little vegetables or healthy fats, or consuming high quantities of sugar (sugar is sugar whether it is natural or not).
So, how can you eat for a super brain?
In his excellent book Genius Foods, Max Lugavere explains that to be optimally healthy our brain needs nutrient dense foods (plenty of vegetables and healthy fats) and to avoid inflammatory damaging foods such as grains, dairy, sugar and vegetable oils.
Top 10 brain foods
Here are his top 10 brain foods…all of which are Paleo!
- Blueberries (and other berries)
- Dark Chocolate
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Grass fed beef (and other wild/pastured meat)
- Green leafy veg (eg kale, spinach, greens)
- Nuts (particularly almonds)
- Wild salmon (and other oily fish such as sardines)
There is a strong body of evidence that these foods are positive for the brain, for cognitive function and can help prevent the likelihood of developing conditions like parkinson and dementia. And the hallmark of these foods is nutrient density. Because changes in the brain begin decades before symptoms, the absolute best way we can move the needle on neurodegenerative disease is through minimizing risk when it matters most.
More tips for a super brain
In addition to eating the top 10 foods, here are my top 5 general tips to help you optimising your diet for a super brain
- Fill your plate with vegetables – aim for 75% of your plate. This is where you get the fibre and nutrients that your micro biome and mitochondria need to thrive. Eat a variety, and go for seasonal and organic wherever possible. Be careful of the starchy carb ones…sweet potato and parsnip may be Paleo but if you are eating them all day long you probably aren’t going to feel that energised.
- Opt for healthy fats – the best sources are avocado & avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, oily fish, grass fed meat, raw nuts (in limited amounts). Include these wherever you can. They will help fuel your brain and aid the absorption of fat soluble nutrients.
- Cook smart – cooking at high temperatures can corrupt fats and make them toxic, both those used for cooking and any naturally occurring fats within the foods themselves. It also destroys nutrients. Opt for gentle cooking methods and cook with fats that have a higher “smoke point” such as coconut oil, avocado oil and ghee (should you choose to consume it).
- Choose natural animal protein – avoid industrially produced meat and instead opt for meat certified as pasture raised and free from hormones and antibiotics, plus wild fish and eggs from naturally reared birds.
- Minimise your sugar intake – even if it’s natural. We crave sugary foods because from our hunter gatherer roots it signals that “fruit” is in season. However we are now living in a perpetual summer where sugary foods are available all the time. In the words of Dr Mark Hymam “sugar is sugar …. and should be used only as a recreational drug”. For occasional sweetness opt for small amounts of raw honey (or stevia) and low fructose fruit such as nutrient dense berries
Want to put it into practice? Try out my delicious Genius Salad a brain nourishing dish which uses 6 of the 10 super brain foods. It is perfect for any time of year, quick and easy to make (less than 15 minutes) and is Paleo and Keto friendly and can easily be adapted for A.I.P. Take a look here for the recipe and a cook along video…… http://www.laurajanebolton.com/2018/08/12/genius-salad/
Laura is a Paleo lifestyle coach, passionate about empowering others to thrive through food. Get 20% off her complete Paleo Toolkit which includes a cook along meal plan by using code paleo20 at checkout https://www.laurajanebolton.com/products/
Or for more information on Laura and how she can help you, check out her links:
Genius Foods book by Max Lugavere http://amzn.eu/d5lRVjP
Ultra Mind Solution
Headstrong by Dave Asprey
Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
Brain Maker by David Perlmutter
The End to Alzheimers by Dale Bredesen
Genius Foods by Max Lugavere