REAL Superfoods

Clever but ill informed marketers will name almost any unusual food to be a superfood. A popular book puts soy, oats, and beans on the super foods list. Give me a break. Goji berries? Did you know they are actually in thenightshade family like tomatoes and can cause inflammation in a large percentage of people?

The truth of the matter is that real super foods have science behind them and when you eat them, you can feel a difference quickly.

In particular, there are a few foods that take your focus to new levels. These “super cognitive foods” include butter, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. They pack a powerful punch for anyone looking to better their cognitive performance by fighting inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Foods

Before you think about any food’s anti-inflammatory properties, keep in mind we are talking about high quality food. That is why everything at Upgraded Self is as good as it can possibly be. Lower quality foods usually have toxins or inflammatory agents in them, which initiates an inflammatory response in the body. The right high quality foods retain high levels of antioxidants and low levels of toxins, which makes them anti-inflammatory by nature.


Bulletproof Coffee is a perfect way to ignite your focus in the morning. Due to its antioxidant and caffeine content, and the fact that it contains two unique and potent neurological anti-inflammatory agents, you can keep a steady focus. Caffeine is more than an energy booster – caffeine may help ease cognitive decline and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by blocking inflammation in the brain.

Another study came to similar conclusions. According to Professor Gregory Freund from the University of Illinois “We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity.”

Along with fighting cognitive diseases, caffeine and coffee increase insulin sensitivity in healthy humans.(7, 11-13) Insulin sensitivity is correlated with how well your body responds to certains kinds of inflammation.

Coffee is the world’s number one source of antioxidants, and for this reason it is a staple in the Bulletproof Diet. The problem is that 91.7% of coffee beans (from South America in the study) contain mycotoxins and 50% of coffees brewed contain toxins, which induces an inflammatory response.(20-21) If you want to upgrade your cognitive performance, high quality coffee is the only way to go.

Drinking high quality coffee has short and long-term effects on your brain. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity, whereas the mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Butter is an unexpected source of cognitive enhancement, and contains one ingredient that studies show is beneficial for cognitive function and gut health called butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain saturated fat and anti-inflammatory. According to three studies, the most common class of genetic neurodegenerative diseases are delayed in mice with the treatment of butyrate.

Butyrate protects against intestinal permeability in rat models of ulcerative colitis.(4) This shows that short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, play an important role in the maintenance of gut barrier integrity. Butyrate also sharply reduces the harmful effects of type 1 diabetes in rats.

Butyrate may also prevent and treat diet-induced insulin resistance in mice. Butyrate is related to promotion of energy expenditure and induction of mitochondria function.

The highest concentration of butyrate may be found in high quality grass-fed butter. I highlight the benefits of grass-fed butter in comparison to grain-fed butter in this infographic. Kerrygold is my butter of choice, but any brand may suffice as long as it is grass-fed (organic isn’t enough and is typically a sham if the cows eat organic soy and corn).

Vanilla and Chocolate

Vanilla is a great food to add into your diet if you are looking for a cognitive boost. Vanilloids found in vanilla are anti-inflammatory, and are a great add-in for coffee or dessert.(14-16)

Chocolate, along with coffee, is very high in antioxidants and contains toxins if not processed and stored delicately. This is another food that it is vital to get in high quality and at a cacao content of >70% in order to reap the benefits. Chocolate favorably alters eicosanoid synthesis, which inhibits vascular and inflammatory processes.

Coffee, Butter, Vanilla, and Chocolate are ideal foods for people looking to get an edge in the workplace. These foods fight unneeded inflammation and turn your brain into an upgraded machine. They are also the core ingredients of almost all truly excellent desserts.

Now this is the part of the post where I am supposed to convince you to get the obsessively produced stuff at, but that is not what I want you to do. Instead, challenge yourself to completely avoid high-sugar, bad-fat, high-processed foods for a week as you pay extra attention to your cognitive function.  Then, if you want an added boost, add Upgraded products back in, and feel the difference.  Want to quantify it?  Design your own experiment and share it in the comments below.

If you are like most people, you will be sharper in the workplace and more efficient at what you do. Not only that, you will have more STEADY energy and will not feel as hungry as you would eating low quality food. By avoiding inflammatory foods now, you will begin to make your mind and body bulletproof.


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