If you’re a runner, you already know the importance of food to fuel your workouts. The brain is also an extremely important aspect when it comes to exericse stamina and maintaining mental focus while exercising. These foods on this list serve double duty because they assist with fueling and recovery for runners + support your brain.
All these foods are part of a diet that's a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets -- it's called MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) and was developed by researchers who found it supported coginitive health, especially after a brain event.
Nutrition Advice for Healthy, Hungry Runners
The slow-burning carbs & fiber in beans fuel long runs and keep you regular. Beans are also high in antioxidants to support healthy, normal inflammatory levels, which is important for keeping your brain healthy.
Berries are very high in antioxidants and all kinds of beneficial phytonutrients. These are very important for brain health, support memory, and may decrease neuron loss.
3. COLORFUL VEGGIES
The bright color of veggies indicate a food is rich in antioxidants, which are crucial for eliminating harmful free radicals, and thereby helping to protect brain neurons from age-related decay. For example, beta-carotene is an orange colored antioxidant found in carrots, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes. You have this dietitian’s permission to eat as many vegetables as you want, everyday!
Vegetables are also high in fiber. All fiber-rich foods help keep the gut in balance by feeding those good bacteria and helping ‘clean out’ the digestive tract. Short-chain fatty acids are created in the gut by good bacteria when they’re being fed enough fiber. You don’t need a supplement to add fiber, just pack your diet with plenty of high-fiber fruits and vegetables.
4. LEAFY GREENS
Leafy greens are rich in folate, which researchers have linked to slower rates of brain decline. Eating one salad per day is an excellent goal.
Walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and pistachios are rich in fiber, healthy fat, and vitamin E. Good fats are an important source of energy for the cells in our brain, which along with exercise can stimulate new brain cells and improve memory. A handful of nuts on a daily basis is what your body wants.
6. OLIVE OIL
Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fat and protects the blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the brain. A six year long study found people who ate more olive oil had less heart disease, cognitive impairments and less instances of developing dementia than those who ate a low-fat diet. Include olive oil daily.
Research suggests the vitamin B12 in chicken and turkey may play a role in fighting age-related decay in the brain. It’s OK to include 3 to 4 oz. poultry twice per week.
Cacao is where dark chocolate comes from, and an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants. There are more than 500 unique polyphenols with the most common being flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, and lignans.
9. SALMON AND SEAFOOD
The essential omega-3 fats in fatty fish (ie: tuna, salmon, mackerel) are crucial for the development and maintenance of brain health. DHA in particular, is a valuable anti-inflammatory, and we already know how dangerous inflammation is to our brains.
10. WHOLE GRAINS
The B-vitamins and vitamin E in whole grains, like whole wheat, oats, wild rice, and quinoa, may decrease risk of Alzheimer’s by clearing compounds in the body linked to brain damage.