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How to really eat for a healthy brain

by , 23 May 2016
How to really eat for a healthy brain
Your brain is your most valuable asset. Think about it—every thought, feeling, action and dream depends on your brain.

You may already know this, but when it comes to brain health and mental wellness, I think that food is the best medicine.

When you feed your most important cells first and feed them right, you're more vibrant, less anxious, sharper, and a healthy weight as you're getting the nutrients you need from fewer calories.

Here are my top six tips on how to really eat for a healthy brain.

Six diet tips for brain health


#1: Eat the colours of the rainbow
The colours in food signal medicine because natural pigments in food have different health-promoting molecules. For example, lycopene is red and carotenoids are orange, and they're both linked to a lower risk of dementia
 
We often refer to these phytonutrients as “antioxidants,” but they're much more than this. They send powerful signals to our DNA that help quell inflammation and promote resilience at the cellular level. Some compounds in plants even promote the growth of new brain cells by promoting the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
 
What I'm trying to say is beware the beige food! The more colours on your plate means a bigger, better brain. Researchers at Harvard found that having higher levels of carotenoids in the blood is correlated with a more optimistic outlook. More rainbows equal more smiles!
 
#2: Stop relying on supplements
The foundation of health is food. There's no “insurance policy” for eating poorly, so why do so many people put their faith in supplements?
 
Remember, everything you put in your body must be dealt with and either absorbed or excreted. That’s a lot of work for your liver and kidneys, which is why I get so concerned when I see people who don’t know what they are putting their bodies with supplements, as many essential nutrients can be toxic in high levels. 
 
Relying on food for vital nutrients is simpler than relying on supplements and will transform your health!
 
#3: Go plant-based instead of vegan
As the vegan movement gains traction, let’s not forget vegan eating plans miss two of the most important nutrients for brain function: Vitamin B12 and DHA. Sure, you can supplement, but studies show that the rates of B12 deficiency in both vegans and vegetarians is sky-high.
 
Still, most eaters have much to learn from vegans, as they are masters at cooking plants. Following a plant-based plan that also incorporates animal foods with these nutrients ensures you get all of the nutrients your brain needs.
 
#4: Get your seafood fix
Many eaters struggle with seafood. I get it. I didn’t eat seafood for years. Then I learned about the function of the omega-3 fats in the body. 
 
Being a "compleater" (or someone who eats the complete range of nutrients necessary for good brain health) requires sensible seafood. 
 
#5: Stop eating processed foods 
Few eaters are actually sensitive to gluten. For those who are, eliminating gluten is a miracle. But for others, much of the perceived health benefits of going gluten-free likely come from eliminating baked goods (like bread and croissants), pasta, and other highly processed foods. It’s not like a gluten-free brownie is health food!
 
Eliminating processed foods and focusing on fermented, traditional whole grains is key to getting rid of the empty calories and simple carbs as the base of your food plan.
 
#6: Eat like your grandmother ate
Traditional diets are superior for health. Diets based on whole foods, simple cooking, and seasonal variety are highly protective for the brain. Think Mediterranean, Japanese, and Norwegian dietary patterns. 
 
What do they have in common? They're all plant-based, absent of highly processed foods and empty calories, and encourage regular seafood and more mindful meat consumption.

PS: Go here to learn about the eight fats that you should be eating every day.

Tip: Did you get your daily dose of Omega 3 this morning?

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