Can My Eating Habits Really Affect My Thinking Habits?
How you think and feel is directly affected by what you eat. This idea might seem strange, but eating the right food has been proven to
- Boost IQ
- Improve mood
- Emotional Stability
- Sharpen your Memory and
- Keep your Mind Young.
Our memories, thoughts, actions, emotions and ability to focus are all controlled by chemicals in our brain, which travel across a network of interconnecting brain cells.
These chemicals and brain cells require nutrients such as proteins and healthy fats to act as building blocks for their structure and vitamins and minerals to act as the keys to activate their function – without an adequate supply of nutrients we just can’t make enough and that’s when our brain gets hazy and our mood plummets.
Disease States Of The Brain – Are They Fueled By Poor Nutrition, Oxidative Stress And Inflammation?
Not feeding the brain and body well can increase the potential for the brain to degenerate into disease states such as mental health disorders, dementias and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Genetic susceptibility and environmental or lifestyle factors, join together to contribute to most chronic disease states, including those of the brain.
Poor food choices and low nutrient intake, especially when combined with high stress, low exercise and minimal sleep, are well-documented contributors to disease states such as oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance and therefore, chronic illness.
Findings from The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey implicated oxidative stress in the aging process and in the pathological changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementing disorders.
Researchers at Iowa State University found a strong association between insulin resistance and memory function decline and suggest that this link increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Inflammation is a mutual acquaintance of both oxidative stress and insulin resistance and all have been linked to dementias including AD. In 2004 the Scripps Research Institute proposed a theory that chronic inflammation is central to the development of AD, noting that it caused proteins to “misfold” to form the amyloid plaques of AD.
Boosting Brain Health
CHOOSE: These food and lifestyle factors to enhance brain function…
- Whole foods –We don’t mean the brand, but the stuff that Mother Nature makes. While foods contain antioxidant nutrients and help reduce inflammation. Eat 5-7 serves of colorful vegetables and leafy greens and a small amount of fruit and whole grains each day.
- Protein – provides the basis for our brain chemicals. Ideally combine a protein source with your carbohydrates to slow the release of glucose into the blood.
- Healthy Fats – approximately 60% of the brain is made up of fat so it’s really important to eat healthy fats including fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Omega 3 fats also significantly reduce inflammation. A fish oil supplement helps boost beneficial fats.
- Eggs – are a great source of phospholipids, that contribute directly to the insulation of the nerve fibers, ensuring smooth transmission of signals and also helps make one of the brain’s memory neurotransmitters, acetylcholine. The Lecithin in egg yolk helps keep the brain cell membranes in great shape.
- Sleep, De-stress, Exercise – all aid in detoxifying the body and in healing and repair. This triad, which causes chronic disease – inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance – are all reduced by sleeping well, de-stressing and getting adequate exercise.
- Challenge your mind daily – research suggests that mental stimulation, such as puzzles or even learning a new dance routine, is associated with higher levels of focus and cognition and with lower incidences of degenerative brain diseases.
- Supplements – There are some wonderful, natural dietary supplements that are great brain health boosters.
AVOID: These substances that can disrupt and damage the brain…
- Sugar – depletes nutrients and significantly increases inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance.
- Processed Foods including “white grains” – add little in the way of nutrients or fibre, but do add significantly to the sugar load in the diet.
- Unhealthy Processed Fats – from fried foods, baked goods and margarines – these contribute to inflammation and disrupt the good work of the healthy fats.
- Food Additives – contribute to the toxic load of the body and many mimic brain chemicals causing disruption in brain function, memory, focus and behavior.
- Food allergens – avoid any foods that cause a problem in your body such as bloating, flatulence, pain or diarrhea. Although these problems may seem like minor irritants, by eating these foods you will be contributing to inflammation and lowering the ability of your gut to absorb nutrients. Over time, the inflammation makes things a lot worse for the brain.
Ayurveda, the ancient science of healing and well being from India calls the “gut” the second brain.
Keeping it healthy with the right diet and lifestyle may well be the first step in getting the most out of our gray matter.