A Guide for Executives and Entrepreneurs
In our high-paced business world, executives and entrepreneurs constantly seek ways to enhance their mental prowess and maintain cognitive health. An often-overlooked aspect of this pursuit is the role of nutrition. Just as we fuel our businesses with innovation and strategy, our brains too, need the right kind of fuel for optimal function. Understanding the connection between nutrition and brain health is vital for sustaining cognitive well-being and longevity. Today, let’s explore the dos and don’ts of nutrition for optimal brain function.
Nutrition for Brain Health: The Do’s
- Embrace Nutrient-Dense Foods: Prioritise a diverse range of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress and support cognitive function.
- Welcome Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods rich in omega-3s like fatty fish (salmon, trout), walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds should be part of your diet. These fats play a crucial role in brain structure, facilitate communication between brain cells, and may lower the risk of cognitive decline. Commencing a daily high-strength omega-3 supplement is something I recommend for all my high-performing clients – aiming to have 2000mg EPA and 2000mg DHA per day, in addition to aiming for three serves of oily fish per week.
- Incorporate Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Colourful fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, spinach, kale, and broccoli are packed with antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby promoting optimal brain health. Other compounds abundant in these foods are flavonoids which are plant chemicals found in most fruits and vegetables, with research showing they may play an important role in cognitive fitness and dementia prevention. This is why one of my core performance nutrition principles is all the colours, all the time!
Nutrition for Brain Health: The Don’ts
- Limit Seed Oils: Be mindful of the stability of cooking oils. Choose heat-resistant oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. Seed oils such as soybean, corn, and sunflower, can produce harmful compounds when heated, causing oxidative stress and inflammation that could impact your mental well-being. My personal preference is Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil given the abundance of antioxidants like oleocanthal and squalene, as well as the stability of the oil up to 240 degrees. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a nutrient powerhouse, is celebrated for its rich content of monounsaturated fats and unique bioactive compounds like oleocanthal, which boasts anti-inflammatory properties akin to ibuprofen. A daily intake of 45-60ml is recommended by researchers, as this amount can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, support heart health, and enhance cognitive function, making EVOO an invaluable asset to your dietary routine.
- Cut Back on Refined Sugars: Refined sugars found in beverages, desserts, and processed snacks can trigger inflammation, insulin resistance, and impair cognitive function. Aim to reduce your intake of these sugars.
- Avoid Highly Processed Foods: These foods, often laden with artificial additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats, provide little nutritional value and can negatively impact cognitive health.
Embracing a Proactive Approach
As high performers, let’s shift our perspective to focus more on inclusion rather than complete elimination. Prioritise well-rounded meals and snacks, proactively make healthier choices, and plan properly to limit the reliance on refined sugars and processed foods. This approach will naturally cultivate habits that support optimal nutrition, cognitive health, and overall well-being.
As you navigate your journey towards better cognitive health, I invite you to share what nutritional changes you are planning to implement.
Remember, the secret to peak performance and longevity lies not just in our business strategies but also within our plates. I’m here to support and guide my clients to better choices and higher performance, reach out to get the ball rolling.