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Brain Food

Your brain weights 2 pounds yet it needs 20% of the caloric intake to power your brain and nervous system. That means 1/5 of our energy is used to power the brain! That is significant! What we feed the brain is of vital importance to maintain a healthy functioning brain. In fact poor nutrition is one of the main reasons why so many people suffer now from fatigue, memory loss, depression, anxiety, or insomnia. Did you know that 95% of serotonin the body makes is in the gut not the brain? It goes without saying then that if our gut health or digestion is off so too will our brain and cognitive health suffer.

Chronic Long-Term Stress is one of the key elements that cause problems with our digestion. Our inability to digest life leads to a series of nutritional deficiencies. So if you are not eating a good diet and you are under stress like most people in the working world then you are likely going to need both foods and possibly some supplementation to support your brain and well-being.

This topic of “Food for the Brain” is much more expansive than what has been written about. What works for one person may not work for you but there are some basic principles which one must be aware of while choosing a healthy diet. I have tried to just give the most essential elements when considering what to eat in relationship to having healthy brain function. For some people changing one element of their diet can make a huge difference but in general all the parts and pieces are necessary to make us happy and healthy.

Here are the basics, which have been recognized to support healthy brain function, and overall good health. First are the macronutrients, their effects and necessity for the brain such as fats/cholesterol, carbohydrates/sugar, and protein as well as one of the most basic elements of life… water! Then we will look more closely at supplementation. It would be nice if we could get everything from food but in today’s day and age that has become difficult. There are basic supplements that provide a foundation for not only brain health but also overall physical health. These are Minerals, Probiotics, Omega-3 Esssential Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B-12. Now there are many other supplements that can support brain health but the ones listed above are foundational. And finally we have look at the Non-Foods that are really ‘Food for the Brain’ like sleep, exercise, relaxation and mediation.

Meditation
Another way to encourage relaxation is develop a regular mediation practice. Research now shows that meditating each day for 30 min helps reduce anxiety and stress, increases one’s sense of self, improves one’s memory and increases empathy. There are different forms of meditation. For some they just sit and focus on their breathing. Many Eastern traditions of medication have people...
Relaxation – Breathing
One of the best ways to encourage relaxation is through breathing. Conscious breathing will have a direct effect on the functioning of our nervous system. This is one of the main ways the ancient yogis from India regulated their health. They inherently understood that breathing would help put the body in state of relaxation and healing. One of the keys...
Sleep
Sleep is another essential “Food for the Brain”. Most healing happens in our sleep state. If we deprive ourselves of getting enough sleep the following things start to occur as outlined by John Medina in his book called Brain Rules : 1. Our cognitive abilities such as memory, learning, attention, mood, logical reasoning, our ability to make decisions all will...
Exercise
This is not typically considered a food but for good brain function one should think of exercise as important as one’s need for food.  Without regular exercise both the body and brain suffer.  Through exercise we increase the delivery of nutrition to the brain. This brings more blood flow and oxygen which increases energy. This then affects our cognitive abilities...