Food for Thought: Supporting Your Brain Health

Lisa StoryConscious Eating

Have you or someone you know ever made an ever-so-slightly nervous joke about declining memory while confessing that Alzheimer’s runs in the family?  Do you or someone you love suffer from anxiety or depression?

You are not alone.

We’d all be hard-pressed these days to find anyone who is not touched by the topic of brain health.

With rising rates of Alzheimer’s disease which is the most common form of dementia, and the increasing numbers of people on anti-anxiety and depression medications…it’s imperative that we seek to better understand what foods and activities support our brain in staying healthy.

The great news is there are key ways to keep your brain functioning optimally.

  1. Consume a diet rich in the following: berries, wild-caught salmon (not farmed), avocados, legumes, eggs, walnuts, olive oil, coconut oil, turmeric, dark chocolate (1-2 ounces daily of 70% or higher), fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, whole-fat plain yogurt, kefir or kombucha), flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, beets, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and dark leafy greens.  These foods provide high level nutrients, especially the healthy fats that the brain requires to perform efficiently.  They also help to protect against free radicals and oxidative damage.  Enjoying these foods on a regular basis will boost your cognitive and memory function, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and reduce inflammation.
  2. Avoid or reduce refined sugar, trans fats and processed foods. These foods create inflammation and contribute to a decline in your ability to think with clarity.  Nothing good comes from eating these foods (well…other than short-term pleasure!) so it’s wise to minimize consumption.
  3. Exercise your beautiful body regularly. Studies show even a few minutes a day of movement that increases the heart rate or just two 1-hour walks each week will improve your thinking skills, memory, and reduce brain inflammation. Moving the body is NEVER a bad thing…it only serves your health in the most positive of ways.
  4. Reduce your stress. This is important. Chronic stress causes the excess release of cortisol which in turn prematurely ages your brain and damages precious brain cells.  Stress can dramatically impair memory and the ability to think clearly.  Activities such as: walking in nature, yoga, journaling, listening to music, spending time with supportive friends, or seeking out professional help if stress is overwhelming are ways to soothe the angst.

Additionally, learning a breathing exercise to calm the nervous system and mind is very useful. This 4-7-8 technique is taught by Dr. Andrew Weil.  It’s easy to perform and stops stress and anxiety in its tracks.

Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your upper teeth. 

 Take an inhale through the nose to the count of 4. 

 Hold your breath to the count of 7. 

 Exhale out through your mouth to the count of 8.  

 Repeat this cycle 4 times. 

  1.  Train your brain.  Crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoku, and other mind stimulating activities are excellent for keeping the brain in tip top shape. Other brain stimulating activities include listening to music, reading and learning a foreign language or new hobby.

Taking care of the brain is a fundamental aspect of your radiant health. It controls your body and all of its functions.

If the brain doesn’t function well, then
we don’t function well.

Meet Your Health Coach

Lisa Story

Facebook Twitter Google+

Lisa Story is a Certified Health Coach with over 20 years in the health education and wellness industry. It's her mission is to help you experience more energy, vitality, and contentment so you can enjoy the most fulfilling life possible.