Did you know…
What we eat not only affects how we look and feel physically but increasing the nutrient density of our meals can also help to keep our mind functioning optimally!
Having a healthy brain protects against common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, while also preventing cognitive decline as we age, decreasing our risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Our brain is an organ that is about 70% fat tissue. The types of dietary fat we consume can either be helpful or harmful to the function of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “neuroprotective” as they help to insulate the wiring in our brain so that messages fire at a faster speed. This is especially important as we age because this insulation (known as the myelin sheath) naturally deteriorates over time.
Some of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are
I recommend consuming fish at least once a week (this is my favorite salmon recipe) and adding chia seeds to my oatmeal or sprinkling walnuts on top of my salads.
By weight, our brain only makes up about 2% of our body mass, however, it uses up about 20% of the energy that we consume. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and so choosing high-quality carbohydrates is key to optimizing brain performance.
An inflamed gut can lead to digestive issues but also can lead to inflammation in the brain, which is one of the biological underpinnings of depression.
To have a good functional gut we must;
To decrease inflammation, we should limit the amount of sugar we consume as well as foods that trigger an allergic response. Also avoid foods we could be sensitive to, the most common being gluten and dairy. Fiber is essential in gut health as it is a carbohydrate that our body does not actually digest, rather it is food for all of the millions of bacteria that live in our gut. You can increase the amount of fiber in your diet by choosing whole grains, fruits, and veggies in your day. Probiotics increase the number of bacteria that live in our gut and can be found in many fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. To keep our gut happy, diversity is key and so getting a rainbow of fruits and veggies into your meal plan is optimal.
Enjoy a happy brain that keeps thinking quickly for years to come!
Delany Smith, Certified Nutrition Coach
PFC Nutrition Educator & Dietary Coordinator