We give a good measure of time worrying about our bodies and making sure we look good, but very few of us peak underneath the hood. Even fewer look into the neurobiology of our brain and what it needs to function at its optimal level. With an increasing number of eye-opening documentaries, health coaches, and food bloggers, most of us already know that it is important to eat organic food that you prepare at home. By this point, many of us have eliminated dairy and gluten from our lives. And hopefully, we are all winning the battle with sugar. But there is still so much more we need to do if we want to be in control of our day and not become victims of fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, and anxiety.
The tasks of the human brain outnumber all other organs in the body even when combined. Our brain is working every second of the day, even during our sleep through the dreaming cycle. To function well, it requires massive amounts of energy and essential nourishment. It's vital that we fuel our brain with clean and healthy food.
This article contains suggestions on various lifestyle adjustments that worked for me and significantly improved my brain health and overall wellbeing. While going through some of these suggestions, it is essential to keep in mind: Bio-Individuality. Figure out what works for you. There are over 150 diets out there, and they are all valuable because they changed people's lives. Your responsibility is to figure out which approach works best for you. Which lifestyle adjustments make you feel like a Superman or a Wonder-woman and which drain your energy and make you want to stay in bed all day numbing yourself with Netflix.
Some of these action items are easy to implement while others will require discipline to change unhealthy habits. Even if you only use a few of these action items, I'm confident you will experience long-lasting energy levels, clearer mind, and more positive outlook on life.
Superfoods in Your Morning Smoothie
This category alone can create a huge positive impact on your wellbeing by increasing your energy levels, mood, focus, and confidence. Some of the most valuable superfoods to consider are cacao beans, maca, spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts, kelp, ginseng, and goji berry. These and host of others are fantastic sources of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and other nutrients that will promote your wellbeing and transform your life forever. Aside from being very palatable, they are nutritious and rich in powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanidins. This specific antioxidant has positive effects on the brain, relieving and shielding it from stress, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
The best way to consume all these ingredients is to put them in your morning smoothie. It will give you an immediate boost of energy and will keep you sharp throughout the day. Superfoods is a vast topic that needs a lot of attention, and if you want to learn more, I suggest following David Wolfe. He is a proponent of superfoods and has an abundant wealth of information on this topic and great recipes for your kitchen shenanigans.
Eat Your Mushrooms
For thousands of years, mushrooms have been used to keep our natural defense system up and maintain our wellbeing. They can also enhance our cognitive function. One of the essential mushrooms you may want to look into is Chaga, Lion’s Maine, Reishi, and Cordyceps. You can find plenty of research on these four mushrooms and their astonishing effects. They improve your sleep, reduce your stress levels, and strengthen your immune system.
Mushrooms deserve a separate article because there is so much to say about them. If you're interested in exploring more, I suggest following Dr. Andrew Weil and his research. You may explore further, following this link: https://bit.ly/2AKFGLg
Choose Your Fish Wisely
Mercury levels are on the rise, and much of it is in the fish we eat. Swordfish, Tuna, Halibut, and Sea Bass contain the most mercury out of all the fish. Salmon and sardines are a much better way to go if you are a seafood fan. Mercury is not something you want in your body because it has adverse effects on our nervous system and is closely related to chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and even depression.
Also, mercury level is something we need to consider choosing a fish oil supplement. You see, our brain is comprised of a lot of fat, and twenty grams of that fat is DHA fatty acid. The concentration of DHA is higher in the brain than in any other organ. If the DHA levels get low, (which are linked to our serotonin levels) we will inevitably suffer from emotional episodes and bouts of depression. Taking Omega 3 Fatty Acids helps address this problem and nourish our brain. However, because of concerns with the industrial pollution of our oceans, it is imperative to buy an Omega 3 supplement that has been through the process of molecular distillation to remove the impurities. These most dangerous contaminants are lead, mercury and the PCB’s. This process is the only method of eliminating cancer-causing PCBs. The oil that remains after this process is the purest you can buy.
Invest in a Good Water Filter
Even if you are drinking bottled water, there is a good chance you are consuming all kinds of pathogens on a daily basis. Arsenic, lead, fluoride, and even pharmaceuticals are the commons toxins in the water. After conducting plenty of research, I invested in a Big Berkey filter. It’s a great addition to my kitchen, and now I use clean water to make my tea, wash my veggies, and stay hydrated throughout the day. By the way, even if you buy your veggies and fruits from a farmer’s market, it’s a good idea to wash them with a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water to get all of the dirt and pesticides out of your produce.
Also, don’t forget that your body hydrates through its pores, so if your tap water shows high levels of pathogens, you should look into getting a shower filter as well. You can order a water test kit from Amazon and see if that’s something you need to look into for your home.
Get a Good Night Sleep
Good sleep is the best thing you can do so your body can detoxify and recover. It’s a key ingredient to living a fully optimized lifestyle. But it’s important to look into the quality of your sleep. How many of us spend our last hour on the phone, laptop, or binging on Netflix? I am guilty of that myself, but I found a way to work around this- Swanwick Sleep. Blue-light blocking glasses can help you reduce the negative effect of late night browsing. Research has shown that blue light exposure is the worst before going to bed because it tricks our pineal gland into thinking that it is still daytime, and there’s no need to produce melatonin.
It’s also important to monitor the quality of your sleep and the amount of time you spend in REM, Deep, and Light Sleep. All three of these stages are essential for your recovery – physically and emotionally. I use Fitbit at night to track the quality of my sleep. It also helps me develop a consistent sleep schedule where I get between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
How is your Gut Health?
There is a close relationship between the brain and gut health. Some experts even call our gut - our second brain. Unfortunately, many of us dismiss digestion issues as a critical signal from our bodies and instead cover up these symptoms with digestive enzymes and anti-bloating medicine. We should pay close attention to our gut health. It is one of the best ways our body can send us messages that something needs attention.
You may be allergic to a particular type of food, and your body wastes a lot of energy going to battle with it every day to keep the inflammation down. Also, there may be a dis-balance of good and bad bacteria in your stomach, which leads to toxic waste overworking your kidneys and liver. If you are experiencing issues with digestion, try reducing your sugar and alcohol intake for a few months, so your body can build back up its defense system. Probiotics will help you build up good bacteria in your body much faster while prebiotics will help you feed that good bacteria.
Don’t Forget Your Supplements
Look into supplements that help strengthen your natural defense system and detoxify your body. As for me, I use Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Selenium (found in Brazil nuts), and an excellent Vitamin B complex, daily. N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine (NAC) and Alpha-Lipoic Acid are must-haves for people with a high level of toxic metals. Both of these supplements are essential in removing heavy metals from our bodies. Also, high-quality fish oil, Omega 3, offers terrific benefits for your brain, gut, and cardiovascular system. Gingko Biloba supplements are great for enhancing your memory, while caffeine supplements in small, carefully regulated doses can help improve your focus. Do remember to consult with your physician before you begin taking any supplements.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics (also often referred to as “limitless pills”) have been surging in popularity for the support they can potentially offer for brain wellness and functioning. These brain enhancing supplements can help improve mental energy and promote productivity – something that much appeals to students, professionals, and entrepreneurs, and just about anyone looking for peak brain performance.
Nootropics contain natural substances, nutrients, and herbal components such as caffeine, L-tyrosine, and L-theanine, which synergistically work to boost cognitive properties and stimulate the brain and the central nervous system. A healthy balanced diet is a must in one’s brain health agenda, but in some cases, it may not be enough to power up one’s brain power – it could also potentially use some help from supplements that work to enhance focus, energy, and wakefulness when and where it counts. Again, this is something you want to discuss with your physician to make sure this is something you should consider.
Cold Press Juices
When you do a juice cleanse, you will find that you feel great, clearheaded and light (in your mind and your body). You can get amazing results with juice cleansing, but the maintenance of those results, of course, is up to you. Do your proper nutrition research, make a plan, and stick to that plan.
Cold-pressed juices have tons of great benefits:
Improved cardiovascular health
Stabilization of bowel movements
Elimination of stored toxins
Better quality sleep
Stabilization of blood pressure
Nutrients available to the brain have a significant impact on the healthy functioning of our brain cells or neurons. Nutrients affect neuronal function either directly, being metabolized without precursors, or indirectly, by altering the production of other substances in the brain that determine brain cell function.
The billions of brain cells or neurons communicate via neurotransmitters — including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — that send signals through the brain’s complex of pathways. Brain function is determined in large part by the action of these chemical messengers. Losing mental agility in old age, for example, may result from the brain cells failing to communicate effectively. Proper brain nutrition influences the production and action of neurotransmitters. For instance, research shows higher levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in lab rats that are fed blueberries, which are rich in antioxidants. Dopamine, in turn, is essential for cognition, motivation, mood, attention, and learning.
Other examples of nutrients which affect brain function include tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein which also supports the action of primary neurotransmitters; the mineral magnesium, which can reduce hyperactivity and irritability; and omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve mood, attention, and alertness.
Nutrition has an enormous impact on how we feel, think, and function. Our emotions, our memory, our ability to concentrate and accomplish tasks, and hence our lives are heavily impacted by what we put into our bodies, be it food, nutritional supplements, or drugs.
Makes you think twice about eating that big mac or drinking that coke, doesn’t it? Makes you want to check the nutritional information of everything you buy at the grocery store, right? It makes you want to find out exactly what foods and supplements are beneficial for brain function and which are detrimental. You might think to yourself: what a drag! Well, the negative impact of ignorance on your brain is an even a more significant drag. Knowledge is power. Now go and use brain nutrition to empower your mind and your life!
*DISCLAIMER: information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace medical advice