If you walk into any grocery store, you’ll probably see one or more products touting “superfoods.” They’re one of the latest nutritional crazes, and while the word might get tossed around too loosely, there are foods that have so many benefits that it’s hard not to consider them “super.”
While the Food and Drug Administration does not give us a real definition of the term superfood, it does regulate what can be placed on the labels of the food you buy. Anything touted as a superfood must be high in nutrients that have a range of benefits such as vitamins, minerals, fibers, fatty acids, proteins and complex carbs.
Nutrition is all about balance. This means you can’t eat one superfood and be cured of all ailments, but incorporating a few foods strong in nutritional value can put you on track for healthy living and more balanced brain function.
When you eat superfoods, they improve gut health. Your gut is directly connected to your brain. Think about a time you felt groggy, fatigued or anxious. Though these feelings can stem from environmental factors, how you feel is linked to what you eat. Foods high in refined sugars or a diet lacking in essential fats are just two reasons you might be feeling down.
Food nourishes our body and brain. Fruits and greens high in antioxidants, such as blueberries and spinach, are packed with vitamins and minerals that prevent free radical damage to your body’s cells and lowers oxidative stress on your brain.
Polyphenols are compounds from plants that the human body can’t digest properly. Because of this, they make their way to the colon mostly undigested. There, gut bacteria will break them down. Foods or drinks that are filled with polyphenols, such as red wine, almonds, broccoli, chocolate and green tea, help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Your gut can send stress signals to your brain in much the same way your brain can send signals to your gut. Eating meals rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities makes for a more regulated digestive and endocrine system. Healthy cerebral blood flow and oxygen in the brain clears fogginess and gives the brain the power it needs to help you think. Foods that reduce stress on the body will reduce stress on the mind.
For more foods and habits you can incorporate to lower cortisol levels and increase the release of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, here are ways you can boost your happiness hormones naturally.