Brain Health

Brain Health: A comprehensive plan to keep your brain healthy and your memory sharp

The brain is part of the central nervous system and is housed within the skull. It has an average weight of about 3 pounds. It is about 60-65% fat, so the saying “you have a fat head” is quite applicable here. The brain controls virtually every activity vital for human survival such as movement, hunger, thirst, sleep, temperature regulation, and many other physiological activities throughout the body. It is also responsible for our memory and understanding and plays a crucial role in many of the emotions that we experience as humans. Anxiety, stress, unresolved emotional issues like anger, unforgiveness, and grief, for instance, can deplete the brain of vital nutrients such as amino acids, which are very important for the health of the brain. Amino acids are needed for the manufacture of and availability of neurotransmitters, which are important chemicals messengers of the brain that are responsible for virtually every function of the human body. Neurotransmitters also help to modify our emotions or feelings of fear, anger, anxiety, happiness etc. As our bodies become depleted of vital nutrients so does our brain and its ability to make neurotransmitters.

When we provide the body with the right nutrients that it needs to rebuild or maintain proper body structures, the brain benefits significantly and neurotransmitters can be made. This, in turn, leads to the proper functioning of the brain and hence the body. It is a crucial dependency because as the brain is replenished, so does the body and vice versa. Proper nutrition, adequate exercise, the right amount of sleep, healthy social interactions, spiritual and emotional wholeness, and keeping the brain sufficiently engaged in different, challenging activities are all vital components for the proper function of the human brain.

FOODS AND TIPS FOR OPTIMAL BRAIN FUNCTION:

Use extra virgin olive and coconut oil in the preparation of your food, and avoid all processed fats and vegetable oils like soybean, cottonseed, or corn for instance that offer an overabundance of polyunsaturated omega-6 oils. As mentioned, some experts believe these types of oils may be contributing to the epidemic of heart disease, and other chronic conditions we see today.5, 6, 7 In addition, avoid the use of lard, shortening, margarine or other spreads that are high in unhealthy saturated fats and hydrogenated oils or trans fat. Also, these processed fats and oils can contain preservatives like BHT, sodium benzoate etc., and artificial coloring and flavoring. Prepare your food using real butter from grass fed or free range animals, raw coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil. Note: Extra virgin olive oil provides maximum health benefits to the body when it is used in the food after cooking because its health promoting substances can be destroyed by high heat.
Eat cold-water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, herring, cod, and trout for instance. These fish are high in good omega-3 fatty acids—EPA and DHA. Just avoid all shellfish including lobsters, crab etc, shark and all other fish without scales.8
If you eat meat, eat only lean meats (chicken, beef, lamb, goat, and organ meats like liver and heart) from naturally raised, grass fed or free range animals but still watch your intake. Limit all pork and pork products, processed meats like burger meat, canned meat, hot dogs etc, and all imitation “meats,” including soy based and seafood ones.
If you consume dairy products, eat only natural, organic, or other high-quality dairy and fermented products such as kefir or yogurt, but limit those with added sugar or coloring. Avoid all processed kinds of cheeses and dairy substitutes such as soy milk, rice milk, the flavored “milk” beverages, ice cream, and other types of dairy products that have been processed with artificial ingredients, flavorings, and coloring. Limit the use of all evaporated milk and other types of shelf milk, especially those that have vegetable oils added to them. Get milk from goats, sheep, or cows that are raised naturally without antibiotics or hormones, preferably from a local farmer who raises grass-fed animals. If you cannot get milk where you live from local sources, buy organic milk from the grocery store. Many people who are lactose intolerant, find it easier to digest goat’s milk than cow’s milk. In fact, goat’s milk is used by more people worldwide9  than cow’s milk. Do not drink or use any other kind of grocery store milk. The milk that comes from non-grass fed animals is loaded with antibiotics and hormones that are leading to various types of hormone-related issues in both sexes.10, 11 Note: A good snack is plain yogurt with a small amount of raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, cinnamon, or natural fruits can be added.
Eliminate all chemically processed white flour based products from your diet such as white bread, pies, pastries, especially the packaged ones with glazes, cream, and “fruit” filled centers; boxed cakes, store bought pizzas, and processed or artificially sweetened snacks, candies, and sugary breakfast cereals.
Drink filtered water, natural coconut water with no added sugar, green super food juice, herbal teas, or squeeze your own vegetable or fruit juice. If you do drink store bought fruit juices make sure it is real or 100% fruit juice with no added sugar, coloring, or flavoring. Limit the intake of caffeinated or carbonated sodas, soft drinks, packaged drink mixes, and sugary “fruit” drinks, alcoholic beverages and coffee.
Use only raw honey, unrefined dark brown sugar but small amounts at a time or use a natural sweetener like stevia extract. Restrict the use of white sugar and all artificial sweeteners in your diet.
Use only natural or unrefined sea salt but make sure the salt contains iodine because it is a necessary nutrient. Eliminate the regular table salt and salt seasonings from your diet because they contain unnatural substances besides sodium and iodine. Use lots of fresh, local herbs to impart great flavor to your food.
Avoid anything containing MSG monosodium glutamate 13), a flavor enhancer that is plentiful in Asian cuisine and many kinds of salt seasonings because studies have shown it may have a negative effect on neurological function.
Eat fresh herbs and spices like rosemary, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon regularly.
Eat fruits such as blueberries and other berries, organic red/purple grapes, watermelon, cherries, pomegranate, and other fruits with blue or red hues.
Eat a fresh green salad on most days using dark green or red lettuce leaves and include some celery, red onions, and green bell peppers to boost brain power (14,15,16,17). Also, add some spring greens like watercress and/or arugula, chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and avocados. A fresh green salad is important because the brain is sensitive to and greatly affected by a buildup of toxins in the body, whether from natural metabolic processes taking place inside you, or from the food you eat, or the environment in which you find yourself. A fresh salad provides fiber to keep toxic waste products moving through and out your system.
Eat an abundance of fresh vegetables especially kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprout, red and green cabbages and other cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, beets, carrots, pumpkins, orange sweet potatoes, and red/purple skinned potatoes.
Eat properly prepared whole grain foods like quinoa and brown rice. Brown rice contains important B vitamins that assist the nervous system to function properly and manage stress. Include old fashion rolled or steel cut oats, seeds like sunflower and pumpkin and nuts, especially walnuts. Eat legumes like lentils and whole grain bread such as Ezekiel bread.
Include some flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seed, and/or flaxseed oil to get omega-3 fatty acid ALA and mucilaginous fiber from a plant source.

TOP HERBS AND SPICES FOR OPTIMAL BRAIN FUNCTION:

Cayenne pepper
Celery
Cinnamon
Cumin
Ginger
Gingko
Ginseng (avoid if you have high blood pressure or insomnia)
Green tea
Peppermint
Rosemary
Watercress

TOP VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS FOR OPTIMAL BRAIN FUNCTION:

Choline (similar to a B vitamin and is important for a healthy nervous system)
CoQ10(co-enzyme Q10)
Evening primrose oil or hemp oil (cold pressed and hexane free)
Gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA)

It is an amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter.
It is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the central nervous and the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.
It plays an important role in helping your body deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. Low levels of GABA are associated with the inability to cope with stress or anxiety, while higher levels result in less anxiety and panic attacks.
GABA has an overall calming effect on the brain and body. I have used it during times of severe stress and anxiety when I found it very difficult to focus or concentrate because of the battle that was raging in my mind, and the results were outstanding for me

Gingko capsules
Ginseng (avoid if you have high blood pressure or insomnia)
Green superfood powder. If you do not get enough dark green and leafy vegetables in your diet on a regular basis, make a drink from the green food blend powder several times a week to provide your body with the required nutrients
5-HTP-naturally derived substance that is related to the amino acid tryptophan that is needed to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, the “feel-good” or mood enhancer chemical. I have used this and obtained very good results.
Magnesium gel caps
It is a mineral abundant in dark green and leafy vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and beans.
It plays an important role in nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. Its depletion is associated with muscle spasm, anxiety, depression. and heart problems.
It boosts GABA activity.
Quercetin
Take a high-quality fish (cod) liver oil supplement from a trusted brand, and it should be certified free from polychlorobiphenyl (PCB) and mercury contamination. This will ensure you get adequate amounts of the essential fatty acid omega-3
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B12 (sublingual)
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin C
Vitamin E
More brain and memory support supplements.

Alzheimer and other age-related brain diseases:

Follow the same suggestions given above for overall optimal brain function, and add these other suggestions also.

VITAMINS AND OTHER SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP IMPROVE MEMORY:

Cinnamon
Dark chocolate and other cacao products are high in polyphenols, antioxidants which research (18) has shown prevent or reduce the harmful accumulation of certain proteins in the brain that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
More brain and memory support supplements.

SUMMARY:

Focus on eating a wide variety of organically produced vegetables and fruits in season, especially the ones that are green, red, blue, or purple in color. Eat nuts like walnuts and make sure you are getting enough omega-3 fats from fish that come from cold water source because these can help protect the brain from inflammation, which contributes to poor brain function. Limit your intake of all fatty red meats and meat products as well as alcohol and caffeine.

*Some of these posts may contain affiliate links but they are only products of the highest quality that I have used or trust.

By Lisa Gibson ... original article HERE

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