by Arjuna Ardagh: I have talked to hundreds of brilliant people about what they eat and drink…
There is no absolute conformity to their answers, but all agree we should listen to our body and eat consciously, rather than from a place of craving, or conforming to a one-size-fits-all theory. What follows are some general principles that have frequently emerged in interviews.
I suggest that you experiment with adding or eliminating one suggestion at a time, and observing if that change makes you more or less brilliant. Like this, you can slowly eliminate everything that fogs your clarity, and keep everything that gives you the best brain performance. If you want a simple jumpstart, I have included a sample meal plan at the end of this chapter.
1. Eat Smaller and More Frequent Meals.
To avoid the fogginess and low energy that frequently follows eating a large meal all at once, experiment with eating smaller amounts, five times a day. This can include breakfast, midmorning boost, lunch, mid-afternoon boost, and a light supper.
2. Simplify Your Food Combinations.
Our genetic ancestors primarily ate one thing at a time. After a hunt, they would eat meat, probably not accompanied by a nice Merlot, French fries or Béarnaise sauce. When scavenging for berries or nuts, they would eat their fill of what they found, not combine it with many other ingredients into a superfood bar. To minimize brain fogginess, combine protein with vegetables, or carbohydrates with vegetables, but not protein with carbohydrate. Sorry, no burger with fries. Eat fruits at a separate time.
3. Eat a Diet of Predominantly Vegetables.
Eat 2 to 3 servings of vegetables per meal. This includes leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale, and chard, as well as root vegetables like carrots, beets, and yams. Avoid white potatoes, as they contain a toxin that is difficult to digest. They were not indigenous to the area of Africa we originate from. Our online practice community contains a close to complete list of vegetables that humans have been eating for the longest time, and another list of vegetables to avoid.
4. Eat Healthy Fats.
Contrary to much of the information that had been disseminated in the last decades, most nutritional experts now agree that fat is good for your brain. In fact, your brain needs healthy fat to be able to operate well. You can get the good fats you need from coconut butter, avocado, fatty meats, and nut butter. If you tolerate dairy well, butter itself is also a good source of fat.
Drink 2 to 3 liters of water per day, between meals, not with food. Upon rising, drink 16 ounces of water with a lemon squeezed into it, a pinch of sea salt, and a pinch of xylitol, and 2 ounces of aloe vera juice. Because of the way that most water is processed today, it has been stripped of the minerals found in spring water at its source. Adding salt and a natural sweetener makes it easier for your cells to get hydration from water.
6. Eat Fermented Foods.
Many of the important brain chemicals that allow us to feel inspired and to think clearly, like serotonin and GABA, are actually produced in the gut. If you have used antibiotics in your life, even as a child, your natural gut flora may be imbalanced. This can cause indigestion, bloating, and gas, but also fogginess and mood swings. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, kefir, and kombucha can restore the balance of healthy bacteria, which you may quickly experience affects your capacity to be creative.
7. Eat Eggs for Breakfast.
In his book How to stay Focused in a Hyperactive World, John Gray devotes an entire chapter to eggs. Egg yolks, he tells us there, are packed with every nutrient needed for optimal brain functioning. They are rich in the amino acid tryptophan that creates serotonin. They also full of tyrosine, which is the precursor for dopamine production. Egg yolks are one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, without which the brain cannot utilize brain hormones to increase healthy focus. Egg yolks also filled with all the B vitamins, also necessary for creating healthy brain chemistry.
Many people are still concerned that eggs contribute to high cholesterol levels. Several studies done at Harvard University have proven that the beneficial cholesterol in eggs will not raise your cholesterol levels. If you have high blood pressure, eggs have even been shown to lower it. Many brilliant people eat 2 to 3 eggs every morning, 5 to 7 days a week. The beneficial nutrients in eggs will be most easily absorbed when they are eaten with greens, rather than potatoes or other carbohydrates.
8. Eat Your Largest Meal at Lunch.
After having a cooked breakfast of three eggs and greens, to maintain peak brain performance the biggest meal should be in the middle of the day. That is when the sun is highest in the sky and, according to the ancient wisdom of both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, it is when we have most digestive power.
The ideal lunch would be 2 to 3 cups of vegetables or salad together with a protein, which could be chicken, turkey, fish, red meat or, if you are vegetarian, tempeh or beans. Eat fish for lunch twice a week, because of the omega-3 oil it contains, which is an essential nutrient for the brain. Add some healthy fat to this meal, which could be the fat already in the meat, or you could add avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.
Since this is the heaviest meal of the day, try to organize to take a 20-minute nap after lunch. This will likely allow you to feel refreshed and alert in the afternoon. Such a nap should be absolutely no longer than 30 minutes, or your body will go into a deeper sleep cycle that will cause you to be drowsy for the rest of the day.
9. Eat a Light Supper Before the Sun Goes Down.
Many people have trouble with this suggestion, and it is really up to you whether you can or want to make it work. We talked about this already in the chapter on sleep. If you have been in the habit of eating a large dinner after dark, as many people do in big cities, and if you sense that your brain is not operating at its peak potential, this may be the little change that makes the biggest difference. Experiment for a month with eating soup only in the evening, before the sun sets, and not eating anything afterwards. Then see what happens. If it makes no difference, you can always go back. But it might make all the difference, as it has for me and many of my friends, and it might be the most important thing you get from this book.
10. Snacks Between Meals.
To keep your blood sugar levels stable, which will also allow you to feel emotionally balanced and mentally clear, it is a good idea to eat a snack (such as soaked nuts, fruit or corn chips) mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Experiment for yourself and see how this works for your body type and weight. Here are some snacks that work well:
You just read an excerpt from my latest book, Radical Brilliance! If you like what you just read, and want to explore these themes more deeply, you can read more excerpts of the book here on the website.
I have also included recipes and video demonstrations for brilliant snacks and meals in our Global Brilliance Practice Community, which you can join once you’ve purchased a copy of the book. Hope to see you in there!