Dr. Seuss once said, “You’ve got a brain in your head and feet in your shoes, you can eat any food you choose!”
In all seriousness, thought, what you eat has a direct effect on your brain. This may seem obvious, but obesity rates in America are still on the rise, so it’s time for a refresher!
Well, he actually said “steer yourself in any direction you choose,” not “eat any food,” but that’s how we like to interpret it.
Fortunately, the lovely people at TED-Ed put together the video above to show just how food affects the functioning of our brains. Here are just a few of the things you need to know, along with a few pointers from other recent research:
Trans fats are MEGA BAD for your brain.
Trans fats, which are found most often in fried foods and highly-processed baked goods, will compromise brain health if you eat too much of them. Research shows that trans fats may worsen memory, Live Science reports, and that those who eat a lot of them are more likely to have a smaller brain. Limiting your intake of these foods will make your brain (and waistline!) happy.
Your brain is mostly fat, and it needs fat from food to survive.
To keep your brain healthy, eat hearty when it comes to nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. The fatty acids are found only in those foods, and help to create and maintain new cell membranes. They also help prevent degenerative brain conditions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you took out all the liquid from your brain, most of its weight would come from lipids (fats). The rest of the matter is made up of glucose, micronutrients, amino acids, and proteins, all of which are fueled and replenished by the food we eat.
What you eat could keep you from falling asleep.
If you’re feeling alert late at night or lethargic after lunch, it’s likely because your brain isn’t happy with what you ate that day. Heavy, greasy foods close to bedtime will keep you up because they take your body more time to digest, the National Sleep Foundation reports. The caffeine in soft drinks and chocolate will also keep you from getting your ZZZs.
What you eat may affect how you feel
To avoid dips in attention span and mood, skip high-glycemic carbohydrates like white bread and dessert, which can send blood sugar levels in your brain skyrocketing before crashing. Complex carbs like legumes and whole grains increase blood sugar levels at a slower pace, which helps your brain remain more attentive and focused.
Research suggests an association between improved mood and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate and other B vitamins, notes the Mayo Clinic. Eating fruits, vegetables, omega-3-rich foods, protein, and complex carbohydrates and drinking enough water could help make a positive difference in mood and well-being.