What’s the perfect balanced diet for your brain? This is a tricky question since we are all different with our own dietary requirements, or intolerances and health goals.


Let’s break it down.


What’s your brain made out of?


It’s made out of macro- and micronutrients. Macronutrients are needed in big amounts this includes water, fatty acids, proteins, and glucose (sugar). Micronutrients are needed in small amounts which includes minerals and vitamins.


Your brain needs an optimal amount of macro- and micronutrients for development, mood, learning, cognition, memory and energy.


What are you looking for in a brain balanced diet?


Brain Health (Cognition, Mood, Memory, Learning and Energy), all depends on lots of factors, including:


  1.  Fats

  2. Proteins

  3. Glucose

  4. Vitamins

  5. Minerals

  6. Water 



Omegas 3 and 6 are the major fatty acids in your brain, and are essential for the formation and maintenance of cell membranes.


Omegas must be consumed from omega-rich food.


Fish and other seafood:


  • salmon

  • tuna 

  • oysters

  • sardines


Nuts and seeds:


  • chia seeds

  • flaxseeds

  • walnuts


Omegas are great fats for your brain, others fats like trans and saturated fats (desserts such as pastries ice cream, and donuts, sausages, bacon, and fried foods) may cause damage to your brain health and contribute to mental decline.



Proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are the building blocks for several physiological functions such as:


  • Development, tissue repair and growth

  • Nutrient absorption

  • Production of neurotransmitters

  • Protein synthesis


In the brain, amino acids are the precursors for neurotransmitters, these are chemical messengers that communicate information between neurons.


Neurotransmitters can affect things like:


  • Focus, attention and motivation

  • Learning and memory

  • Sleep

  • Mood


Your body does not store amino acids the way it stores fat or carbohydrates. Your gut can absorb so much protein in one sitting, ~20-25g. This makes it very important to have adequate protein intake, every day.


Protein should be consumed based on grams per kilogram of body weight and not by gender, currently at least 1.2-1.5g protein/kg body weight/day, and up to 2.2g protein/kg body weight/day in athletes.


The rule of thumb to optimize overall health, individuals should aim for 4 portions of 20-25g/day.


Amino acids and their co-factors can stimulate neurons to release cognitive-altering neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine.


High quality proteins contains the amino acids to support brain health.


  • Poultry

  • Eggs

  • Beans

  • Lentils

  • Whey

  • Seeds


Glucose is the fuel your brain needs to synthesize nutrients into what it needs them to become.


Your body digests carbohydrates into glucose, where its transported in the bloodstream to the brain and other organs for energy. Your body stores glucose as glycogen in the liver and has the ability to make its own glucose from amino acids and fats.


Glucose is basically the only fuel your brain uses with the exception of ketones during a prolonged state of fasting.


On average your brain consumes 120-200g of glucose a day (and this is just your brain).


A dip in brain glucose may impair cognitive functioning such as learning, memory, and attention.


The best sugars for your brains are complex carbohydrates such as


  •  Fruits

  • Grains

  • Vegetables

  • Legumes


These take longer to digest and provide a steady energy release. Stay away from simple sugars and highly processed junk food like candy, icing, syrups, and table sugar. These sugars hit the bloodstream rapidly and spike insulin levels.


The rollercoaster of blood sugars spikes may lead to neurotransmitter imbalances, this is why you might feel fidgety, irritable, unfocused, inattentive, and even sleepy after a junk food binge.



Vitamins: Several vitamins have an important role in keeping the brain healthy. The optimal concentration of certain vitamins can improve cognition, protect the brain and help with learning and memory.


These vitamins include the vitamin B complex and more specifically vitamin B6, which is required for amino acids to be synthesized into neurotransmitters. Another critical vitamin is good old vitamin C, which supports the immune system and reduces inflammation.


Food rich in vitamins includes citrus fruits, broccoli, kale, meats, poultry and fish.


  • Citrus Fruits

  • Broccoli

  • Kale

  • Meats

  • Poultry

  • Fish


Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals the body needs in small amounts. Don’t be fooled by their trace amounts, micronutrients are extremely important for normal functioning or your body and brain.


They are required for processes like


  • Antioxidant defense

  • Energy production

  • Production of neurotransmitters

  • Growth and development


Basically, if you need something to happen in your body, you can bet a micronutrient has a role in it. Unfortunately, a great proportion of the population falls short in one or more of these essential micronutrients.



Minerals: Small amounts of the mineral’s sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc are fundamental to brain health.


Foods with high mineral content includes


  • Nuts

  • Beans & lentils

  • Salmon

  • Dark leafy greens

  • Seeds

  • Avocados


For optimal and sustained brain power, it's critical to stay hydrated and to have a varied diet that contains all the healthy macro- and micronutrients your brain needs.


However, it’s important to note that during times of stress, like multitasking, lack of sleep, and distraction, your demand for certain nutrients may increase. Diet alone might not be sufficient to give what your brain needs. Specialized nutrients may need to fill in the nutrient gaps.


How do you know if you have a nutritional gap?


Your brain is extremely sensitive to changes in nutrients, in fact, drop in mental performance is one of the key signs of nutrient deficiency.


Stress can deplete key amino acids and the cofactors critical for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. When this happens mental performance declines.


In times of stress, a supply of nutrients such as tyrosine, choline, taurine, carnitines, vitamin B6 and C, and magnesium may help maintain a balance of key neurotransmitters important for brain health.


When it comes to your diet, your choice in foods have an instantaneous and long lasting effect on your brain. A slump in performance may be an indication you are not fuelling your brain properly. The right nutrients can make all the difference.


For an interesting talk on nutritional neuroscience, check out:


"The Brain Hack to Get Your Life Back" - by Dr. Delphie Dugal-Tessier



Did you know that the brain is approximately 75% water?

Your brain needs water to deliver the nutrients to the brain and to remove toxins.


Brain functioning relies on hydration to be able to think, focus, and experience clarity and creativity.


Signs of dehydration include


  • Brain fog

  • Afternoon Fatigue (especially if you only drank coffee all day)

  • Headaches

  • Sleep problems

  • Stress

  • Depression

  • Anger

The amount of water needed depends on many factors such as activity level, gender, height and weight.


Pay attention to your urine, if it's very light and yellow (like lemonade), and none smelly, you’re good. If it’s darker with an aromatic smell, you are most likely dehydrated… drink some water.


Caffeine can dehydrate, the rule of thumb is a 1:1 ratio, you have coffee or tea, have a glass of water.