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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Maire

What is brainfood? How can it help me as I do Neurofeedback therapy?

What is Brainfood?


Brainfood is any type of food that contains nutrients that can positively affect your brain’s health and function. Research shows the relationship between consuming brainfood and absorbing nutrients and compounds in these foods to improve both physical and mental health.


Examples of Brainfood:

  • Leafy Greens (think kale, spinach, broccoli)

  • Fatty Fish (salmon, trout, sardines, etc.)

  • Berries (Blueberries especially are full of antioxidants- antioxidants neutralize and protect our body from damage that may lead to heart disease and certain types of cancer)

  • Turmeric

  • Dark Chocolate (Chocolate above a 70% cocoa content)

  • Tea and Coffee (Green tea)

  • Nuts and Seeds

  • Eggs

  • Whole Grains (provide glucose and energy for the brain)



Research about brainfood:


Numerous studies have been conducted to study and quantify the connection between these brain foods and how they affect your brain function and memory. One study in 2011 found that foods like salmon that are high in omega 3 fatty acids (a healthy type of fat) may positively impact mental health, especially for those who suffer from anxiety and depression. Another study in 2017 researched how the mediterranean diet (a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil) can positively impact your cognitive function and may reduce the risk for depression.


Physicians and mental health practitioners understand the connection between the gut and the brain, especially when it comes to mental health. Chronic stress is known to negatively impact both the gut and your mental health. Research surrounding probiotics have found a potential link to using probiotics to improve both gut health and mental health.


What is the relationship between brainfood and neurofeedback?

Exercise and diet impact how well you respond to any type of treatment, including neurofeedback. Eating healthy foods can give us more energy to improve our physical and mental performance.



Our practice in Orem, Utah uses the treadmill as a metaphor for neurofeedback treatment. Just as a post workout recovery shake or meal can help you recover from exercise on a treadmill, eating and letting your body relax and recover from the effort you put in your neurofeedback session can be beneficial for you. Eating brainfood will actually help your brain retain the progress and be more effective and stay stronger for longer periods of time.


Creating a plan to include brain food in your diet:


In order to reap the positive benefits of brain food you need to incorporate them into your diet.


Here are steps to begin this process:

  1. Conduct more research behind the specific benefits of each of these brain foods. This blog is just a snippet summarizing general information about brainfood. If any of these topics interest you- foods, conditions and correlations- research more about them.

  2. Find balance in your diet and view of food. As mental health professionals we know that food can be a potential source of stress, especially as you try to make changes to be healthier.

  3. Listen to your body. Some foods agree with people, some don’t. Lucky for us we generally have access to many of these brain foods. If you don’t like some of these foods, try different foods that you do like.

  4. Seek professional help from your therapists, dietician, or primary doctor. You don;t need to make this change alone, and these professionals have experience helping patients meet their health goals. Reach out to them in your next visit to discuss how changing your diet will affect you emotionally and physically.


A note: Certain conditions including IBS and IBD have been correlated with a decline in mental health. The treatment plan for these conditions generally include a change in diet to eliminate foods that can trigger painful responses to specific foods and nutrients. With these conditions in mind, it is important to speak to your gastroenterologists or specialists before changing your diet, especially if you know you already have a sensitivity to one of these brain foods.


At our mental health practice, we advocate for a holistic approach to mental health treatment that prioritizes multiple dimensions of our health. Nutrition, diet, sleep, relationships, spirituality are all elements that impact whether or not we feel like our mental health is in decline.


Recently as we have researched treatment options for our clients we have invested in neurofeedback equipment to support our clients in their mental health journey. To fully reap all the advantages of this therapy approach, we advise clients to recognize the interconnection between their mental and physical well-being.




Sources:

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Skalny AV, Lei XG, Tinkov AA. The joint 16th symposium on Trace Elements in Man and Animals (TEMA16), International Society for Trace Element Research in Humans (ISTERH-2017) and Nordic Trace Element Society (NTES), Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 26-29 June, 2017. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2018 Dec;50:461-464. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2018.01.014. Epub 2018 Feb 15. PMID: 29398240.


Sharma C, Mohanty D. Molecular Dynamics Simulations for Deciphering the Structural Basis of Recognition of Pre-let-7 miRNAs by LIN28. Biochemistry. 2017 Feb 7;56(5):723-735. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b00837. Epub 2017 Jan 24. PMID: 28076679.


Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Nov;25(8):1725-34. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229. Epub 2011 Jul 19. PMID: 21784145; PMCID: PMC3191260.


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