Did you know that the health of your brain is connected to your gut health, blood sugar levels, your weight, your mood, and thyroid health?
Optimizing your nutritional intake will keep your brain healthy, alert and running at peak performance. When your brain isn’t getting the nutrients it needs you no longer have the ability to think, learn, remember or concentrate.
Many of us think our brain function is fixed and destined to break down. However, that’s far from true. In fact, our brains are capable of change by creating new brain cells (Neurogenesis) and improving neural connections between our brain cells (Neuroplasticity) each and every day.
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There are nutrients which provide the building blocks for the brain and other nutrients that contribute to brain-related diseases like anxiety, depression, lack of focus, poor concentration, brain fog, anger, mood swings, sleep problems, feeling a bit anxious or depressed. Even Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease can also result from poor nutrition which then leads to poor brain health.
Better brain health is a bite away. Here are some proven recommendations to get the most out of your brain.
- Remove sugar. The average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar a year, which is roughly 22 teaspoons every day. Sugar is found in salad dressings, condiments, and many sneaky places.
- Remove flour. The average American consumes 146 pounds of flour a year
- Remove the “bad” fats. Highly processed vegetable oils. For example soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and peanut oil.
Every day we have the opportunity to FEED OUR BRAINS!
- Eat lots of “healthy” fats which help to maintain your brain tissue.
Your brain is made up of 60% DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid). Healthy fats include nuts and seeds, avocados, wild fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Olive oil and a quality saturated fats like coconut oil and MCT oil. Did you know avocado increases blood flow to the brain which is essential for keeping the mind alert and focused?
- Eat quality protein.
Protein helps build muscle which is routinely lost as we age. Omega-3 eggs, grass-fed beef, wild fatty fish, nuts and seeds provide good quality protein. Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 and zinc. If you are a vegetarian these are perfect for keeping the brain’s sensory function working well!
- Eat real food.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-oxidants and many brain-enhancing chemicals called phytonutrients and phytochemicals. Include spinach, arugula, blueberries, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale. Did you know blueberries have been shown to guard against short-term memory loss?
- High quality dark or milk chocolate
Chocolate (at least 85% cacao) provides memory-improving antioxidants! Throw a few squares into your daily intake of nutrients!
Supplement only if you have done all the above and you still feel as if your brainpower is lacking. Wise brain boosting supplements include:
- Omega-3 fats in the form of fish oil
- Vitamin B (folate, B6, and B12)
- A high-quality multi-vitamin
- Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant that helps promote cognitive function. A study published in 2017 evaluated the role of vitamin D status in cognition among 369 individuals. The researchers found that those who were vitamin D deficient experienced a faster rate of cognitive decline. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency was associated with a nearly three-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Finally, one of the BEST things you can do for your brain that does not relate to food is to learn to manage your stress! More on stress management later (it deserves its own post).
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