When to Eat for Optimal Brain Function with Max Lugavere
"Social interaction is such a major aspect of feeling connected..and achieving optimal brain health."
This week’s podcast is all about fasting and genius — and we welcome special guest
In previous episodes, we’ve talked about brain superfoods and what we should be eating to power a healthier, happier brain. Today’s show takes the conversation a step further as we talk about when we should be eating, and how fasting can impact our longevity and brain health.
A common question from the Kwik Brain community has been how we can improve our brain functionality through nutrition and diet. A respected health and science journalist and author of a best-selling book on diet and brain health, today’s guest Max Lugavere has years of health and diet research experience to give you the best advice on improving your brain function through nutrition.
The food we eat matters to our grey matter. When and what we eat can affect our memory, our thinking, our lifespan and our happiness. In today’s world, many of us are chronically eating, which is creating ongoing impacts and stresses on our bodies and brains — this makes sense if you consider we evolved as hunter-gatherers, eating only when we were able to find adequate food.
In today’s conversation we talk about some key nutrients for healthy brain cells, cover Max’s list of top genius foods you should be eating on a daily basis, provide a framework to guide when you eat and explain the effect of fasting on your mental state and metabolism. We’ll explain what current research is saying about fasting, and how you can improve your health through connectedness.
HEALTHY CELL MEMBRANES
- Supplements Max gave Jim: phospholipid DHA—your brain uses this to create healthy cell membranes, important because our cell membranes form all the receptors involved in mood, executive functioning, attention and memory
- We rely on the proper operation of these membranes to allow neurotransmitters to do their job
- Carotenoid astaxanthin compound, unique marine compound (found in wild salmon, lobster, etc.) that activates FOX03 brain pathway, protects eyes, promotes neuroplasticity
- Genius foods Max suggests in his book: foods filled with nutrients, fats, vitamins to increase longevity, combat inflammation, promote detox and improve brain health
- Dark leafy greens
- Grass-fed beef
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Wild salmon
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Dark chocolate
WHEN TO EAT
- Intermittent fasting for performance: getting back to balance between fed and fasted state, catabolic (building strength) and anabolic (breaking down) state, today we’re not able to achieve that balance because chronically eating
- Chronic eating prevents the brain from using ketones for fuel (the byproduct of fat metabolism)
- Max’s suggestion: don’t eat for a few hours after you wake up, and don’t eat for a few hours before you go to sleep — extend the window in which you don’t eat
- When you wake up: a spike in cortisol, depleted glycogen, fat burning. Cortisol is a fat-burning hormone that enables your brain to receive energy from fat
- Ketones are a signaling molecule, turn on hormones involved in neuroplasticity
- Avoid eating 2-3 hours before sleep: lymphatic system and brain are cleaning while we sleep, and increased insulin levels from food consumption might interfere with this process
- Don’t get neurotic about the window Max suggest; it’s a framework, not a strict rule, e.g., if you end up at a social dinner don’t worry too much
- Don’t forget social interaction is an essential contributor to optimal brain function and lifespan
- Don’t forget other important aspects of health outside of nutrition: connectedness, exercise
- Loneliness impacts your genetic expression, use meals as an opportunity to connect
- Blue Zone studies investigate not just what was eaten but who, when it was eaten
- Researchers mentioned: Valter Longo | Satchin Panda
- We didn’t evolve with food constantly around
- We become more clever when food ceases to be around—stokes a stress response, neurotransmitters, promotes alertness and more advantageous gut-level decisions
- Max stacks important meetings and calls in the morning when he’s in a fasted state, so he is more alert
Please note, this episode is educational only and is not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 3: 10 Keys to Unlock Optimal Brain Health
Episode 5: My 10 Favorite Brain Foods
Episode 45: Improve Your Memory With A Good Night’s Sleep with Dr. Michael Breus
Episode 62: What To Eat For Your Brain with Dr. Mark Hyman