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When analyzing brain foods, one of the most important things to look at besides toxicity (foreign to our bodies, i.e. artificial) is the glycemic index. If you don’t already know how important it is, start paying attention to the glycemic index (GI) of food and observe how you feel in relation to this one marker. Our brain thrives on a steady stream of glucose in the blood stream and when that steady stream isn’t so steady, the brain (as well as the rest of the body) suffers with irritability, depression and sluggishness to name a few.
Pastas, breads, and white potatoes are the worst offenders when it comes to upsetting the blood sugar and depleting nutrients.
Before we get to the good foods, check out some more of the “bad” ones. Artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, sugary foods and drinks, hydrogenated fats, nicotine, and alcohol are the worst “non-food” foods. The sad news about alcohol is that it doesn’t even need to be ingested…it kills brain cells if it is just smelled!
Did you know that both the Air Force’s magazine, “Flying Safety”, and the Navy’s magazine, “Navy Physiology”, published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame? The methanol in aspartame is found to build up in the tissues causing a potential cumulative effect. It is also reported to increase the likelihood of birth defects. Pilots have linked the use of aspartame to seizures and vertigo and most flight agencies warn against its usage. It is also reported to disrupt the chemical makeup of the brain and lower the levels of serotonin – which could affect sleep, appetite, mood, and behavior. Aspartame (and other chemical sweeteners) disrupt amino acid metabolism, hormonal equilibrium and nerve functions, to name a few. Read more here.
So that’s the bad news, and although there is MUCH more to be said about those “non-foods”, that is a subject for a whole other post. Here are some foods that you can incorporate into your diet that will enhance your cognitive function and decrease brain fog. When you eat the right foods you are able to see things more clearly, become more confident and overall add quality to your life and the life of your valuable brain through balancing your hormones, and nourishing your brain’s functions.
The top brain foods include:
Salmon and other fatty fish
Cacao – this is the raw bean. Chocolate has sugar (read about sugar above)
Green tea, especially Matcha
Acai berry and blue berry
Avocados – great fatty acids
Brewer’s yeast (great source of RNA)
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and all leafy greens
Eggs- great source of protein and readily used cholesterol (yes, the whole egg!)
Seeds and Nuts: flaxseed (freshly ground), walnuts, chia, pumpkin, etc.
Also, be sure to incorporate all of the colors that call to us from nature. Those colors, called bioflavonoids, are what gives wine and pomegranate so much value – they’re loaded with antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in the brain and in the body.
To break it down very simply: Get enough omega 3 fatty acids, plenty of protein (especially from non-meat sources), a variety of colors, and don’t forget plenty of PURE water (avoid unfiltered tap water). These are the ingredients that help people maintain a high quality of life and great mental clarity and cognitive function well into a ripe old age.
We’d dressed our daughter up in the standard, adorable, ladybug costume, taken millions of photos, paraded her happily around the neighborhood, and felt so proud of ourselves every time she squeaked out the words “thank you” in her tiny little two-year-old voice. But, it was upon returning home with our little girl clutching her pumpkin bucket full of Halloween loot that the terror finally struck <play “Psycho” shower scene music here> –
I mean, just skimming the ingredients (when they were actually listed) on the backs of each wrapper is a nutritionist’s nightmare! It seemed we had two options:
That’s when she first appeared – The Halloween Fairy! I’ll bet you’ve never heard of this most wonderful, magical, sanity-saving creature, so let me tell you about her. (BTW, you have my permission to alter this story in any way you choose as you spread the word about this little-known yet extremely kind-hearted fairy.) You see, on Halloween Night, children go trick-or-treating and collect vast amounts of candy that we all know is impossible to consume in one night and is rather unhealthy for strong, intelligent, growing boys and girls. Meanwhile, the poor, little, magical creatures (such as elves, fairies, gnomes, sprites, etc.) are left with nothing! Ask any child under the age of 5, and he’ll tell you that that’s very unfair. So, the children enjoy _(insert # here) pieces of trick-or-treat candy on Halloween night and leave the rest of the candy outside for the Halloween Fairy to take to all of those afore mentioned poor, little, magical creatures. In exchange, the Halloween Fairy leaves various things such as toys and edible treats whose ingredients are far more pleasant to read. It’s a win-win situation!…IF you make sure that the Halloween Fairy disposes of the candy properly (i.e. the dumpster is far more forgiving than the gut and thighs.)
So, what happens when our children finally rebel and refuse to give up their candy to some mystical fairy that may or may not really exist? Like with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, we’ll deal with that hurdle when we get to it. But, after 9 years of visits from the Halloween Fairy now, I’m relieved to report that kids are more excited than ever to exchange their Halloween spoils. On Sunday morning, when they wake up to a new board game, a few handfuls of Sunspire SunDrops and 100 Chuck E. Cheese’s game tokens, they’ll forget all about their pumpkin buckets full of junk, and I’ll be promised a few hours of peaceful reading while streaming my favorite tunes at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Coincidentally flu season starts with the Halloween candy gorge and ends with the Valentines Day gorge. All that sugar and all of those artificial chemicals reduce your immune and detoxification functions leaving you more susceptible to catching the viral and bacterial infections going around this time of year.
Please, share this post with someone you care about and leave us a comment below telling us how you manage to keep your family healthy and the kids satisfied.
There are so many people that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Simply, SAD. There are many reasons that this occurs, but some of the main reasons this symptom raises its head this time of year is because of these foundational aspects:
1. The sun that we are so used to seeing here in Central Texas is hiding more than it ever does during the year. The sun sends us an abundance of full-spectrum energy that we need for life and health. Of course it also helps us to produce vitamin D within our bodies. Vitamin D is well known now to be an essential ingredient in so many processes of our body. In fact it is actually a “pro-hormone”, much more potent than just a vitamin. Beyond vitamin D, there are also many known and unknown aspects of the sun’s energy that keep us strong and healthy.
2. Our diets tend to go south during this time of year with all of the parties and festive events. This all tends to start at Halloween when we gorge on candy and it continues through Valentines day in mid-February. Since there are so many opportunities to indulge, many people will just decide not to worry too much about their diet during this period of time (which consists of about three and a half months)! I can list 147 reasons why you don’t want sugar to be a part of your diet, and many of those reasons have to do with the fact that it screws up your hormonal balance and creates tendencies that you don’t want.
3. Family. Need I say more? Ha, just kidding….kind of. I’ve seen some of my most healthy and well-rounded patients get completely stressed out during the holidays. It happens to the best of us, and in fact, Ram Dass said, “If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” Our family thinks they know who we are, but usually they know who we were much better.
“Usually people are completely unaware of the roles they play.
They are those roles.”~ Eckhart Tolle
So, there are a few reasons you may be feeling blue this time of year. Blue is just a state of mind. It too will pass. If you need to, spend a couple of days in a “pitty party” for yourself. But don’t let it take over your life…these types of party’s can become a slippery slope.
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation
but your thoughts about the situation.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Here are a few things that you can do to break out of the blues, or keep it away.
1. Observe the 80/20 rule by indulging only 80% of the time. For instance, two out of every eight meals, allow yourself a desert or a bite of a desert. When you master this, move onto the 90/10 rule (same principals).
2. Eat protein or something healthy before every “bad” piece of candy or desert. Filling your belly with quality will cut down on overall quantity. You can only put so much into your body any given day. So fill up with the good stuff first. Also, make a new recipe for dinner or make a new tea for sipping.
3. When the sun comes out, be sure to get in it! Even stand by the window if you can’t go outside. 15 minutes per day is often adequate.
4. Ground yourself! We live in an electrically charged world. There are so many positive ions floating around and bouncing off of you that it will create imbalances. Electricity is absolutely everywhere so take the time to walk barefoot on the earth. Seriously, this is not a meaningless or woowoo thing. When you are barefoot on the earth, you are grounded and these electric currents aren’t trapped in you. Again, 15 minutes a day will usually suffice for getting the effects.
5. When you do go home to family, make sure that you don’t add to a negative situation. Really, it’s not worth it. Let the ego relax and imagine a brilliant inner light that comes from within you and attracts only positive experiences. When something is said or done that normally gets you upset, know that this is the ego that is getting upset and that you can operate from your higher self, your brilliant angelic higher-self if you so choose. It is all about choice. You may be surprised how the situation will change.
“What does not move through you defines you” –Unkown Author
If the depression or SAD has grabbed a hold of you this winter and just won’t let go, look into some things that are proven to work for emotional issues such as Body-Mind Nutrition Oriental medicine, or Brianwave Optimization. Call us to see which one is right for you.
Enjoy the holiday season, and if you aren’t looking forward to it at all…remember it to will pass.
1 heaping Tbs. of almond butter
2 Tbs. raw cacao nibs
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2- 1 tsp. cinnamon
8-10 oz. almond or coconut milk (no sugar added)
1/2 – 1 tsp. honey or 1/2 banana
4 ice cubes
Right before blending is complete, add 1 Tbs. coconut oil
Directions (warning! very complicated!…ha just kidding)
Place liquid in the blender first, add everything else except coconut oil. Blend and then add the coconut oil at end to avoid clumping (ice+coconut oil = weird clumping textural experience)
Slice mangos and strawberries, place in bowl
Pour organic coconut cream all around
Toast coconut shavings until just slightly browned and sprinkle on top
And there you have it…there is a delicious vegan dessert!
Use this recipe or change out the fruits with berries to help yourself transition off of sugar and floury deserts.