Nothing's more frustrating than feeling mentally cluttered and easily distracted. By cutting out sugar, eating more healthy fat, and occasionally postponing eating until later in the day, you’ll be feeling clear-headed in no time.
A hectic lifestyle can make it hard to eat right. Unhealthy food is tempting to grab on the go, and you may end up snacking more often and consuming more sugar.
This puts your brain in a tight spot. Excess sugar in your diet is bad for the production of BDNF, otherwise known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is a protein that’s abundant in the brain and plays a critical role in neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons).
When BDNF is in full effect, you think more clearly and have a stronger memory. By protecting old synaptic connections while forging new ones, BDNF grows your brain while protecting it.
In a recent study, results indicated that a diet high in processed sugar negatively impacts learning by reducing BDNF expression in the hippocampal region of the brain. (R)
The Department of Epidemiology at the University College London released the results of a 23,245-person study in 2017. The study documented the correlation between processed sugar intake and the consequent effects on mental health.
They found that a lower sugar intake is connected to better overall psychological health. (R)
What’s considered healthy fat?
Coconut oil, MCT oil, grass-fed beef, olive oil, fish (especially salmon and sardines), avocados, grass-fed butter, nuts and seeds, eggs, and dark chocolate to name a few.
When you say "NO" to sugar and "YES" to healthy fat, your brain has a unique opportunity to thrive. In a high-sugar diet, your brain defaults to burning sugars and carbohydrates as its primary energy source.
When you refuse your brain sugar and eat very few carbs, your brain switches to burning fat cells called ketones as its main fuel. When your brain is running on fat, you’re considered to be in "ketosis.”
Fat is a more consistent, slower burning form of energy. Running on fat instead of sugar initiates a domino effect of health benefits, including increased BDNF production.
Other benefits of a high-fat, low-sugar diet include improved mitochondrial function, enhanced GABAergic neuro-transmission, and reduced neuro-inflammation. (R)
Postponing eating your first meal until later in the day is called “intermittent fasting.” It has a wide range of positive effects, including enhanced cognitive performance through the increased expression of BDNF.
If you haven’t ever intentionally fasted before, the idea can sound intimidating. Don’t worry! You’ve probably already done intermittent fasting once or twice without knowing it. (R)
To start experiencing the benefits of intermittent fasting, you only have to last a minimum of 14 hours without food. That means that if you ate your last bite of food at 9 pm, you only have to wait until 11 am the next day before eating.
To maximize the effects that fasting has, it’s best to wait until early evening before chowing down.
Think of fasting as hitting the accelerator on ketosis. Intermittent fasting will force your brain to switch from running on sugar to running on ketones.
Sugar is addictive. Your brain craves it like a drug when you eat it regularly. Getting off of sugar and on to fat can enhance overall brain health.
By beefing up BDNF, intermittent fasting helps your brain transition from burning sugar to burning fat.
Start fasting tomorrow and power through those sugar withdrawals! Your brain will be feeling like a boss in no time.
Boost BDNF! Master Guide