Brain Fuel and Holistic Nutrition – Natural Foods and Minerals for Optimal Brain Performance!

Article by: David Gracey
what is brain fuel? natural foods and minerals

Did you know that your brain reacts and performs differently depending on the food you eat, and minerals you consume?  Well, it’s true… and most people interested in brain performance refer to this as “Brain fuel” which is basically holistic nutrition for your brain!

What exactly is brain fuel, and how can it help you become sharper minded with increased memory capabilities?

Well, that’s what we’re going to cover in this epic guide on holistic nutrition / brain fuel!

So, sit back, chug some water, and get those dendrites hydrated, because this info is something you shouldn’t overlook if optimal brain performance is what you’re after!

But, before we dive in too deep, I want to cover something calle holistic nutrition…

Introduction to Holistic Nutrition

Table of Contents Click to Expand TOC

‘You are what you eat’.

A quote heard by many, but understood correctly by very few!

Voluptuous amounts of research, studies, and trials have shown that the stuff that you ingest plays a vital role in the person you become!

This leads us to the term ‘Holistic Nutrition’.

What is Holistic Nutrition?

Holistic nutrition revolves around the concept of catering to the individual needs of every person.   It’s an approach that ‘heals’ man by primarily focusing on a natural diet, but is also associated with the act of incorporating aspects of physical and mental health into the whole plan!

We’re all humans with the same framework.

Generally speaking, our framework classifies all of us as one species, right?

But do we all work and function in the same manner? 


All in all, it all starts with your diet!

If you’re feeding your body the food it needs and not the one it ‘craves’, then you’re moving towards a path of empowering all your organs to function at their best potential!

Especially the brain!

And if you only knew how much you could achieve by just bringing minor changes in your diet, you’d consider cutting down on those extra carbs and soda cans right away!

We’re not suggesting you completely eliminate your comfort food; instead, we’re aiming to focus on the importance of limiting their portions and frequency.

And cheat days are a great way to do that!

Can Particular Foods Actually Play A Role In Improving Memory & Cognition

Our debate starts with the question of possibility; whether certain foods can make our brains more capable or not.

Science reveals that our gut can synthesize hormones that are directly taken up by the brain.

And our brain itself is responsible for producing many hormones that play a very important role in enhancing neuronal plasticity, hence aiding our memory and cognition.

But how are these hormones synthesized?

The food you eat, of course! Or as I like to call it, brain fuel!


We will be dwelling into a list of superfoods down below, so stay tuned.

Now back to our debate; there are only certain foods that can trigger your gut or brain to synthesize the hormones your body requires.

And not taking them will not kill you (although in the long run, a fault diet can lead towards a lot of problems in older ages), but you’re also missing out on major advantages and more importantly, essential brain fuel!


So how does this work?

I’m not going to lie, it is pretty complicated but that is exactly what I do: make things simpler!

You can think of your brain as an electronic network with all sorts of circuits.

Now your neurons or circuits are linked to the higher parts of your brain which play a major role in your behavior.

And of course, in memory and cognition.

Before you ingest your food, your brain already knows what’s coming! 

So it starts releasing the relevant chemicals such as hormones and peptides.

But how did it do that?

The aroma of the food and the experience that you’ve had with that particular food item triggers your brain, thanks to those efficient neuronal circuits coordinating with different parts of your brain!

I know it sounds super cool, but at the same time it leads us to a very important question:

Are you feeding yourself properly?

What Are Antioxidants And Why Are They So Important to Fuel Your Brain?

You’ve probably heard of this term, but I’m here to tell you exactly what you need to know.

Our body is constantly fighting a battle against harmful pathogens.

Most of which comes from the poor diet we take, and this includes all sorts of delicious foods like Pizza, Cakes and you know what else!

When your body is breaking down food products or anything at all, free radicals are released.

When free radicals exceed a certain limit, they become harmful to the body and lead to a chain of events that can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and forms of cancer too!

Note: free radicals also waive off infections, they’re just bad in high amounts.

This is where our superheroes, the antioxidants come in!

They act as scavengers and hunt down these free radicals to eliminate them.

We will discuss antioxidants in detail down below, but here’s a general list of common antioxidants.


Vitamins & Some Cofactors

Vitamin A, C, E

Coenzyme Q10, Manganese, Iodide

Minerals Manganese, Iodide
Hormones Melatonin
Carotenoids Alpha & Beta Carotene, Lycopene, Lutein
Flavonoids – found in coffees, teas, and berries Luteolin, Hesperetin and many more
Miscellaneous Capsaicin, Bilirubin, Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl Cysteine


Brain Fuel Number 1: Essential Vitamins

Vitamin C: King of antioxidants

This vitamin is mostly found in citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, and is one of the most powerful natural vitamins for your health.

But it is also abundantly found in Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, and Strawberries.

Below are its remarkable benefits to the human body:


kale - vitamin C antioxidant

Vitamin A: Protector of the Eyes

Vitamin-A rich foods include Cod liver oil, eggs, and Beta Carotene containing foods (green veggies).

It is amazing for those who fear the risk of future night blindness since it is responsible for converting the stimulus of light into a signal for your brain to process the picture!

 Here are its benefits:

  • Fights against potential risks of night blindness
  • Reduces the possibility of cancer
  • Acts as an immune booster
  • A breakthrough treatment for Acne!
  • Keeps intact the healthiness of bones
  • Aids in proper growth
Vitamin A Eyes

Vitamin D: Bone-Health Booster

Vitamin D is a product of the sunshine we receive!

People living in areas with colder climates face sunlight deprivation and hence develop bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

If that is the case then you need not worry.

There are a lot of foods that contain Vitamin D such as egg-yolks, Beef, Salmon, Mackerel, and Sardines.

Listed below are its remarkable properties:

  • Has shown amazing results in promoting bone health and strength
  • It helps combat against various diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis!
  • It is also known to prevent or reduce depression

Vitamin B: A Wholesome Family

There are around 8 different B vitamins that form a family known as the B Complex.

These can easily be found in meat, grains, legumes, Avocados, Bananas, and also in unprocessed flour and dairy products.

Each member of the B complex caters to a wide range of benefits, each specific to their nature.

In general, here are a few of its praiseworthy benefits:

  • Vitamin B9: great for promoting red blood cell growth
  • Vitamin B7: amazing for the hair and is also known as Biotin
  • Vitamin B12: regulates cell growth in the bone marrow
  • Vitamin B5: gives rise to Coenzyme A which is responsible for the production of important cell components

Brain Fuel Number 2: Essential Minerals

Magnesium For Memory & Beating Brain Fog

Magnesium serves a variety of health benefits like maintenance of bone density, regulating cardiac cycles, and ensuring adequate blood sugar levels.

However, its most interesting function to date would have to be its role in improving memory and cognition.

Over 300 enzymatic reactions take place in the presence of  Magnesium!

And brain fog happens to be closely related to a Magnesium deficiency!

If you are someone who easily loses focus, you might want to consider it as a Magnesium deficiency- since it is easily misdiagnosed.

With regards to the cognitive function of the brain, Magnesium is involved in potentiating synapses (the small gap between each neuron) which in turn initiates a cycle of improved learning ability!

And since it is an essential mineral for the brain, it shows promising results in preventing Alzheimer’s.

Magnesium is found in dozens of healthy food choices such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanuts, oatmeal, milk, and spinach – just to name a few!  Cleveland Clinic has a great list of magnesium rich foods here.

Zesty Zinc Brain Mineral

Interestingly, Zinc is abundant in intellectual individuals!


If a pregnant mother having Zinc deficiency conceives the child, it is very likely for that child to demonstrate poor learning skills and diminished cognitive abilities.

Zinc is found mostly in the Hippocampus of our brain, which has a lot to do with our behavior and personality.

Schizophrenia, a psychotic disorder is often associated with markedly low Zinc levels.

Zinc is an amazing mineral for your brain and you can easily find this in oysters, beans, nuts, red meat, and poultry items.

Many kinds of cereal are also boosted with a dose of Zinc, you can check that on the ingredient list of your favorite cereal!

Coherence With Coenzyme Q10

We have already discussed in your previous articles, the importance of Mitochondria.

They are powerhouses of the cell that generate energy, similar to a grid station for a certain area.

Now Coenzyme Q10 is found in the mitochondria and thus holds a major role in its functions related to the brain.

Deficient levels of this enzyme render the Mitochondria dysfunctional and hence leads to neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease.

And all these diseases have more or less to do with the degeneration of brain cells due to the rapid aging process.

You can easily find this enzyme in beef, trout, oranges, strawberries, and spinach.

Since Coenzyme Q10 delays the aging process, it is also used in many skincare products.

CoQ10 as it’s also called, is a great brain fuel choice for any holistic nutrition regimine, and you’ll find it in many nootropic supplements as well!

Other Important Minerals:

Mineral Name
Function in Brain:
Helps in the releasing process of neurotransmitters and the production of red blood cells
Plays a role in neurotransmitter release and also fights free radicals
Extremely important electrolyte; maintains fluid balance
Plays a vital role in the regulation of blood pressure and osmotic balance
Extremely important for the formation of Hemoglobin and prevention of anemia
Gives rise to the hormones T3 and T4 in the thyroid; these hormones, in turn, produce a variety of important brain neurotransmitters
Involved in the production of Dopamine and strengthens the connective tissue. Also involved in the formation of normal synapses

Brain Fuel Number 3: Essential Whole-Foods


Certain fish like Salmon, Mackerel, or Tuna are particularly rich in this oil known as the ‘Omega-3’.

In case you do not know, the brain is mostly fat or lipid.

Cells’ outer coatings are lipid or fat and they serve to act as a protective barrier too.

The Omega-3 is a form of fat or lipid that leads to the formation of healthy brain cells with a tough coating!

Nuts, Grains & Seeds

Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower/Pumpkin seeds, Whole wheat items, and Barley are all very rich Omega-3 and Vitamin E.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that serves to protect our brain cells against unwarranted damage!

All in all, these wholesome goods have proven effectiveness in improving cognition and promoting healthy brain function, according to a study by the NIH.

But of course, these results apply only with regular and long term use.

Decadent Dark Chocolate!

Dark chocolate is the new breakthrough in science!

It has amazing proven benefits in elevating mood, thanks to the Flavanols and methylxanthines found in dark chocolate!

This is probably what gives you the feeling of being in love!

Talk about brain fuel that totally rocks! (Okay, that was a bit corny.. or chocolatey..   okay I’ll stop now… LOL)

Flavanols also play a very important role in enhancing blood flow to the brain which in turn promotes higher cognitive abilities.

Flavanols are accumulated in the Hippocampus.

TIP: Try grabbing chocolate bars with at least 70% dark chocolate.

essential whole foods for brain

Berry-Licious Goods!

All sorts of berries are full of antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory in nature.

They are also responsible for promoting neuroplasticity, which is extremely vital for efficient synaptic transmission.


Coffee is more than just a morning essential.  Probably the most common form of brain fuel there is!

There’s a very interesting section about Coffee down below, so stay tuned!



These creamy greens are a lot more than just a bowl of finger-licking Guacamole!

They are rich in elements that promote adequate blood supply and better oxygenation for the brain.

Their high monounsaturated fat content contributes to the manufacturing of healthier brain cells.


The only reason for listing eggs into this section is because of their very high protein content.

Protein is the raw material for manufacturing extremely critical elements in the body, for example; enzymes that speed up chemical reactions.

They are also major contributors to neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and Norepinephrine.

However, eggs are very high in cholesterol and one egg adds up to around 70 calories!

So make sure to work towards a balanced egg intake.

Essential Whole Foods for Brain 2

Evergreen Veggies: Broccoli, Kale, And  Leafy Greens

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it contains a sulfur-rich biomolecule.

Other cruciferous veggies include Cabbage, Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

And they play an astonishing role in genesis!

They are associated with the regeneration of brain cells, thanks to Sulforaphane.

Kale is also very rich in Sulforaphane along with many other minerals, antioxidants, and glucosinolates that aid in effective detoxification!

Other greens with similar benefits include green and leafy vegetables like Celery, Lettuce, Swiss Chard, and a herb called Rosemary.


Even though this does not qualify as a whole-food but rather a spice, this is still included in this section because of its abundant use in Indian cuisines.

Turmeric is more than just a spice and has a large plethora of health benefits.

The most prominent would have to be its instant healing effect due to its highly potent anti-inflammatory properties!

It also has mood-elevating effects, albeit with minor evidence.

Special Section: Keto Coffee!  The Perfect Morning Brain Fuel?

This emerged as a new trend right after the Keto diet took over the internet.

Keto Coffee is not your typical morning coffee; rather, you should think of it as a Meta-coffee.

Many people also refer to keto coffee as bulletproof coffee!

Unlike conventional coffee, this one is loaded with ghee or grass-fed butter.

It is also loaded with medium-chain triglycerides, found in coconut oil. 

For this purpose, using a natural MCT oil works best.  It’s so popular nowadays that you can find MCT oil at most grocery stores!

Add a pinch of pink salt, and this nutritious emulsion is said to contribute towards a coffee that gives you an extra kick of freshness every morning!

Also, don’t be scared of the fat!  It is actually not fattening at all, and actually helps you lose weight instead!  Imagine having a sharper mind, and not being hungry all morning!  that’s the basic effect of bulletproof / keto coffee.

Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, the ingredients in Keto-Coffee have shown promising results in cutting down inflammation and boosting energy levels that will last you throughout your work day! 

This makes for a great, yet simple, nootropic morning cocktail!

A Big No! From Science: Substances That Negatively Affect Your Brain Function!

As we move towards the last section of our article, it becomes clear that while some foods are brain fuels, others can prove to be brain disasters!

Keep an eye out for these ingredients in your diet, because their side effects will leave you astonished.

Trigger alert: most of them are found in our diet!


Absurd Aspartame – Anti- Brain Fuel #1

Let us begin by the substance that is a silent killer and our guilty pleasure!

Admit it, choosing diet soda versions instead of regular ones makes us believe that we’ve opted for a relatively healthier option.

What if I tell you it’s worse?

aspartame diet soda cola

This is a low-calorie alternative to sugar and that sounds great.


But in reality, aspartame is said to leave behind chunks of methanol in the bloodstream after its consumption.

Methanol gives rise to Formaldehyde which is extremely hazardous for the brain at any given concentration!


It is so weird that Aspartame is considered ‘safe’ whereas Formaldehyde is documented as a potential poison!


Murderous Mercury

To begin with, it is the most toxic substance on Earth!


Mercury is found as emissions in the atmosphere, but it was also conventionally used in dental fillings!

What’s worse is that it is still used in many dental clinics worldwide, especially in third world countries.

It is associated with neurodegeneration and excessive amounts of Mercury can lead to a condition called Mercury Poisoning!

wikipedia mercury toxic metal

Furious Fluoride – Enemy of Holistic Nutrition!


Fluoride is found in community water supplies, some fruit juices, and more popularly in tubes of toothpaste.

It is a very important mineral as far as the dental field is concerned, because of its proven effect in preventing tooth decay.

However, even dentists negate the use of excessive Fluoride as it can cause Fluorosis – a condition that yellows your teeth.

But what does it do to the brain?


In our previous article, I had mentioned how the use of excessive fluoride can lead to the calcification of the Pineal Gland.

But it does much more than that!


Here are some of its adverse effects of Flouride:

Lowers IQ in children
Allows Aluminium to enter the brain

  • Potentiates the risk of Hypothyroidism and ADHD
  • Involved in neurodegeneration of vital parts of the brain 


That being said, it is harmless if used in appropriate quantities. 

Consult your local dentist for the safest concentration of Fluoride you should be ingesting! 

(But, even that doesn’t sound so enticing now does it??)


GMFs: Genetically Modified Foods

There is a hefty amount of debate regarding GMFs.

While breakthroughs in science are always welcomed wholeheartedly, some just become subject to public scrutiny.

Undoubtedly, there is a shortage of food in areas worldwide and GMFs could be the solution.

But here’s why I listed GMFs into substances you should avoid:

There’s no making sure that GMFs are completely safe; they come unlabelled!
They are genetically modified and could henceforth contribute to widespread antibiotic resistance.

This will inadvertently affect aspects of biodiversityIt can never beat the quality of fresh organic produce.

EMFs: Electro-Magnetic Fields


We all use our phones, laptops, and electronic gadgets all the time!

Little did we know that these radiations have inevitable effects on our bodies.




A product of red algae or seaweed.

Sounds natural, right?

You’d be amazed how deeply inflammatory this substance is and is found in many so-called ‘organic’ foods!

Be mindful of the labels, folks!

The thing with Carrageenan is that it is not digestible.

It just emulsifies itself to cause an inflammatory response, similar to the one initiated by Salmonella!

The Not So Sober: Sodium Benzoate


An ingredient found in almost all packaged items!

It is a preservative that un-naturally increases the shelf life of many products, from food to skincare.


And here’s why you should avoid it:

Associated with marked inflammation, Higher quantities may lead to ADHD!

-Produces an excessive amount of harmful free radicals thus resulting in oxidative stress

-It causes the release of Leptin, which in turn suppresses the appetite un-naturally!

Magnesium Stearate

You silently consume this upon popping medicinal pills!

This is the substance that is used to form a coating or film around those capsules or medicines that you are advised to take.

It is not only associated with disturbing the normal functioning of your immune system but also reduces the absorption of healthy nutrients from your gut!


Vegetable Oils – Probably in Your Pantry Right Now!

This might just be the most ingested ingredient by our body!

vegetable cooking oil toxic 

And that is so not good

Now here’s the thing; cold press oils like the Olive oil or Coconut oils are okay to some extent since you can naturally extract them.

But Canola, Sunflower, and other seed oils are not extracted the same way and this is where the problem begins.

To begin with, Canola oil is extracted from a genetically modified version of Rapeseeds.


That alone makes it toxic enough, but there’s more!


These oils are heated at harmful temperatures and heaped up with piles of petroleum and preservatives which create a poisonous cocktail.

 SAY WHAT???? 


But if that’s the case, then why aren’t there any reported deaths?

These oils are slow, silent killers and work slowly to harm your body.

“But… Aren’t they extremely rich in Omega-6….?”


NO, that is not good!

Unlike Omega-3, these oils are known to cause excessive inflammation in the body.


Tin Foil Hat Time! – Aluminum 13 Chemtrails!

Don’t get me wrong, I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory but it really isn’t.

For those of you who are unaware of chemtrails, you can think of them as chemicals released into the atmosphere via aircraft.

Do you realize how harmful this is?

Aluminum 13 comes down to us as rainwater which we end up drinking, and bathing in.

We’ve already mentioned how Aluminium used in non-stick cooking ware is harmful.

But what could justify these chemtrails?

The point I’m making, is that there are dangerous elements and minerals all around us that can affect our brain function.

It makes sense to at least consider the negative impact that the things we come into contact with in our day to day lives may have on our brain health / holistic nutrition! 

Dangers are lurking around every corner, and it’s up to us to fight for our bodies, and of course our feed our brains the brain fuel that it needs to function at the highest levels of cognition!

About David:

Hey! I’m so glad you’re here. My name is David Gracey. I am a cognitive brain function researcher, avid biohacker, and self-proclaimed nootropic junkie of sorts! (And, yes, a bit of a nerd as well...) I created this website as an outlet to share my passion for self improvement and cognitive brain enhancement. Got questions? Shoot me a message!










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