This piece was written by Elizabeth Whelan, health & wellness expert, life coach, holistic therapist and Director at Zestivo.
There is a lot of commentary at the moment about health and wellbeing, but few articles concentrate on the brain and the key role it plays in our lives.
The brain is a vital organ which dictates all aspects of our lives. Like all other parts of the body, it needs regular exercise and stimulation otherwise it will deteriorate and be prone to brain drain or even worse, neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
At some point in our life all of us will experience symptoms of brain drain, poor memory or lack of focus which can last for a few hours, a day or longer. Your brain contains more than 400 miles of blood vessels and medical research has shown that you can regenerate your brain cells in as little as a few months simply by eating more of certain foods and avoiding others.
Research is now highlighting the connection between our brain and our gut and vice versa. Any stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because science has now proven that the brain and the gut are intimately connected.
The best approach to keeping your brain cells in peak condition is to eat plenty of fresh life energy vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Fruit and vegetables in particular contain lots of antioxidants which help to protect our cells from free radical damage. The foods that can make the biggest difference offer critical minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols, and a host of other important phytonutrients that are good for your brain that support your memory and your mental function.
Given that brain drain is very common in today’s fast moving world it is important that we understand its symptoms and what can be done to mitigate its impact. The following are the main symptoms of brain drain;
Dietary choices, food intolerances, food allergies, processed foods
A troubled gastrointestinal system
High levels of sugar
Lack of exercise
Lack of sleep
Pre and Peri menopause
Underlying health issues
There are number of brain superfoods that have been found to provide brain-boosting benefits.
Vitamin C is essential to your body, it has the ability to produce neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters provide mood stability and the prevention of depression. It helps to repair and regenerate tissues combating free radicals. Vitamin C is easy to get through foods, as many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C.
Apples, asparagus, berries, broccoli, cabbage, melon, citrus fruits (lemons, limes, and oranges), kiwi, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach), red bell peppers, potatoes and tomatoes are all high in vitamin C.
Turmeric has been worshiped and revered by people for centuries, and today it is one of the most significant players in the prevention of many diseases. The most well known medicinal action of turmeric is its use as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Turmeric also acts as a painkiller, antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, liver stimulant, digestive & diuretic. It also helps blood vessels to relax and increases blood flow to the brain.
It’s best to be taken with a little black pepper, as this increases the bioavailability of curcumin the active ingredient in turmeric.
The science research between blueberries and brain health is extensive. They are rich in antioxidant compounds known as anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve brain function. In fact, berries of all types, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, provide critical minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenols that are good for your brain.
OMEGA FATTY ACIDS 3, 6, 9 & 7
Omega fats are a crucial part of human cell membranes and have powerful health benefits for the brain. The best way to get enough is to eat whole foods that are rich in omegas like fatty fish, fresh water salmon, anchovies, herring, and sardines. In addition flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts will help your brain to stay in top shape.
Dark leafy green cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach and brussel sprouts are rich in nutrients that benefit brain health. These greens contain fat soluble vitamins essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that densely pack the brain cells.
Aubergines contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including many of the B-vitamins. The deep purple skin is a sign of a high nasunin content, which is a type of antioxidant. Research has shown that nasunin can protect the lipids (fats) in the membranes (outer edge) of brain cells. This means that our brain cells can function more effectively – letting in nutrients, letting go of waste and keeping out free radicals.
COCOA AND DARK CHOCOLATE
These 2 beauties are packed with anti-oxidants flavonoids and caffeine and contribute to boosting our moods and stimulate the part of the brain linked to learning and memory. The best chocolate to consume is 70% non-dutched dark cocoa.
Having reviewed the foods that will give nourishment to the brain it is timely that we look at some practical tips to enhance the daily brain activity.
Take time to breath into the body moving your belly, chest, side and back ribs. Stop at least 3 times a day and breathe consciously, this will carry oxygen to the brain and energise your body.
When the body moves the brain grooves! Daily activity is vital as it brings oxygen to the whole body. Simple things like taking the stairs or small walks during the day all help. Try rebounding, yoga, pilates, swimming, walking or dancing.
Make sure you get enough good quality sleep. Good sleep patterns rejuvenates the body, clears waste from the brain, and supports learning and memory.
Many people get hungry throughout the day whether in work or at home, so it’s a good idea to have some healthy snacks by your side. A combination of nuts and seeds can give you a boost, or a tasty treat easy to prepare, celery or carrot sticks with some hummus.
BEING IN THE MOMENT
Most people have become pre-occupied with the future and are constantly plotting and planning and are never in the moment. Set aside a time through your day to plan and organise and then stop. Take some time to just be, free the mind and observe the breath.
It is essential to listen to the messages that your body is giving you, as these messages can be a sign that you and your life may be out of balance.
By embodying these initiatives into your daily routine, you are providing some nourishments for your brain on a daily basis. This will give you with a better quality of life and reduce the risk of brain deterioration into the future.
“Make the rest of your life the best of your life”
Written by Elizabeth Whelan, Practitioner & Director of Zestivo
Elizabeth Whelan is a health and wellbeing expert, with over 35 year’s experience. Through her company Zestivo, she assists individuals, entrepreneurs and companies to promote health and well-being at home and in the work place. Elizabeth is a mentor, motivational speaker, life coach and holistic therapist who uses her qualifications and experience to bespoke solutions and create a positive focus for individuals and companies.
Through Zestivo mindful living you will be empowered to deal more effectively with daily challenges given way to inner and outer contentment.