Total Brain Health Smoothie

By Dennis Buckley

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I love coffee.

And I don't know about you, but what used to be one cup of coffee soon became two, and what is now two might turn into three before the end of the week.

This incremental process of increasing tolerance is called "habituation".

You keep upping the dose to achieve the desired effect or benefit.

For caffeine intake, that means drinking coffee until I feel the lights come on upstairs so I can shift into high gear and tackle the day.

As hard as it can be to go without coffee (and it IS hard), I force myself to give it up every once in a while to taper off my tolerance.

For that same reason, I do the same thing with some of my nootropics, which you can learn more about in this Ultimate Resource for Nootropics we put together.

On those days when I do "cycle off", I make an effort to supply my brain with all the nutrients and ingredients it needs to function at peak capacity without giving it the advantage of nootropics. 

If you're looking for an all-in-one smoothie to cover your nutritional bases for optimal brain support, look no further.

This one packs a punch.

Ingredients for The Total Brain Health Smoothie

(Makes 2-3 servings)

  • 1 bunch of kale leaves
  • 4-6 rainbow chard leaves with steps
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 TBS flaxseed
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • Up to 1 TBSP of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of Walnuts
  • 5g (1 heaping tsp) of creatine
  • 1 scoop of Protein Powder
  • 1 cup of flaxseed milk
  • 2 raw egg yolks

Directions

  • Assemble your ingredients and throw everything in a blender (a high power blender works best).
  • To adjust consistency to your liking, you can add more protein powder to thicken, or add more flaxseed milk or water to thin it out.
  • For additional sweetness, try adding a few drops of stevia extract or your favorite sweetener.

Ingredient Breakdown

Kale, Spinach, and Rainbow Chard

  • Kale is rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, and sulphorophane, three antioxidants that support eye health and influence genes that activate protective and detoxifying enzymes. Kale also contains magnesium, a mineral that is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including enzymes that use and produce ATP, your brain cell's primary energy currency. Magnesium also supports cognition, memory, and relaxation [1, 2].
  • Spinach is rich in folate, an important compound involved in the methylation process [3].
  • Rainbow chard is high in vitamin K1, which is responsible for clotting of the blood, preventing the calcification of blood vessels and arteries, and maintaining bone health [4].

  Apple and Blueberries

 

  • Apples and blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanin flavonoids that can bind and sequester free radicals, and are generally beneficial in lowering levels of inflammation and oxidation in the brain and body [5].

Avocado

  • Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats to help absorption with other nutrients, and potassium which may lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain. They're also a good source of zinc, which promotes healthy immune function
  • Avocados are also rich in vitamin K1 and folate, which help prevent blood clots in the brain and may improve cognitive function. It also gives this smoothie a rich, velvety texture [6].

Cocoa Powder

  • Cocoa flavanols can enhance blood flow to the brain, and may have a positive impact on memory, learning, mood, and stress [7, 8, 9].

 Walnuts 

  • Walnuts are a healthy source of fat and contain a number of compounds like vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Research shows that walnut consumption can support brain health, and enhance cognition and motor function in aging [10, 11].

Creatine Monohydrate

  • Creatine isn't just good for increasing exercise performance, it has also been shown to support mental energy, working memory, and impart neuroprotective and anti-aging benefits as well [12, 13, 14].

Protein Powder

  • Getting adequate protein is essential to support your body and mind with immuno-modulating and regenerative nutrients. Bonus points if you go with a collagen-whey combination since collagen is important in supporting joint and skin health. The addition of protein powder will also make this smoothie extra filling and give it some added sweetness [15, 16].

 Egg Yolks

  • I think we can all finally agree that egg yolks aren't bad for you. In fact, egg yolks are one of the richest sources of choline which is critical for brain development, and it also breaks down into neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin -- the so-called "happy" hormones [ref].

Well, there you have it.

This micronutrient-dense smoothie will give you a blast of energy, keep you full, and deliver a host of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and essential fatty acids (not to mention fiber) to support your body and brain throughout the day. 

 References

  1. Bailey, R. L., Fulgoni, V. L., Keast, D. R., & Dwyer, J. T. (2012). Examination of vitamin intakes among US adults by dietary supplement useJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics112(5), 657-663.
  2. Magnesium: A Mineral With Multiple Application
  3. Blount, B. C., Mack, M. M., Wehr, C. M., MacGregor, J. T., Hiatt, R. A., Wang, G., ... & Ames, B. N. (1997). Folate deficiency causes uracil misincorporation into human DNA and chromosome breakage: implications for cancer and neuronal damage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences94(7), 3290-3295.
  4. McCann, J. C., & Ames, B. N. (2009). Vitamin K, an example of triage theory: is micronutrient inadequacy linked to diseases of aging?The American journal of clinical nutrition90(4), 889-907.
  5. Kong, A. N. T., Owuor, E., Yu, R., Hebbar, V., Chen, C., Hu, R., & Mandlekar, S. (2001). Induction of xenobiotic enzymes by the map kinase pathway and the antioxidant or electrophile response element (ARE/EpRE),†Drug metabolism reviews33(3-4), 255-271.
  6. van het Hof, K. H., West, C. E., Weststrate, J. A., & Hautvast, J. G. (2000). Dietary factors that affect the bioavailability of carotenoidsThe Journal of Nutrition130(3), 503-506.
  7. Van Praag, H., Lucero, M. J., Yeo, G. W., Stecker, K., Heivand, N., Zhao, C., ... & Gage, F. H. (2007). Plant-derived flavanol (−) epicatechin enhances angiogenesis and retention of spatial memory in miceJournal of Neuroscience27(22), 5869-5878.
  8. Van Praag, H., Lucero, M. J., Yeo, G. W., Stecker, K., Heivand, N., Zhao, C., ... & Gage, F. H. (2007). Plant-derived flavanol (−) epicatechin enhances angiogenesis and retention of spatial memory in miceJournal of Neuroscience27(22), 5869-5878.
  9. Jenny, M., Santer, E., Klein, A., Ledochowski, M., Schennach, H., Ueberall, F., & Fuchs, D. (2009). Cacao extracts suppress tryptophan degradation of mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cellsJournal of ethnopharmacology122(2), 261-267.
  10. Pribis, P., Bailey, R. N., Russell, A. A., Kilsby, M. A., Hernandez, M., Craig, W. J., ... & Sabate, J. (2012). Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults. British journal of nutrition107(09), 1393-1401.
  11. Joseph, J. A., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Willis, L. M. (2009). Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behaviorThe Journal of nutrition139(9), 1813S-1817S.
  12. Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double–blind, placebo–controlled, cross–over trial. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences270(1529), 2147-2150.
  13. Volek, J. S., Kraemer, W. J., Bush, J. A., Boetes, M., Incledon, T., Clark, K. L., & Lynch, J. M. (1997). Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exerciseJournal of the american dietetic association97(7), 765-770.
  14. Bender, A., Beckers, J., Schneider, I., Hölter, S. M., Haack, T., Ruthsatz, T., ... & Irmler, M. (2008). Creatine improves health and survival of miceNeurobiology of Aging29(9), 1404-1411.
  15. BUCKLEY, J., BRINKWORTH, G., & ABBOTT, M. (2003). Effect of bovine colostrum on anaerobic exercise performance and plasma insulin-like growth factor IJournal of sports sciences21(7), 577-588.
  16. Clark, K. L., Sebastianelli, W., Flechsenhar, K. R., Aukermann, D. F., Meza, F., Millard, R. L., ... & Albert, A. (2008). 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current medical research and opinion24(5), 1485-1496.
  17. Ueland, P. M. (2011). Choline and betaine in health and diseaseJournal of inherited metabolic disease34(1), 3-15.

    What would you add to your smoothie to optimize brain health and function? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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