It seems like we are hearing more about brain food, foods that actually help our brain become healthier. The way society is today, there is such a focus only on the physical appearance and physical health of someone’s body. As I have discussed previous times, there is “baggage” with this and the shame and guilt cycle attached, see www.beyondyoursurface.com/foodrules. But if we start to look at what can be good for our brain, instead of our body, we will find the same answers, but a different relationship.
As I mentioned in my biography, last March I became involved with the anti-aging company, Nerium (www.shannonbuescher.nerium.com ). Nerium started out with face crack, anti-aging night cream (no joke- it is!) and last fall partnered with Signum Biosciences, a biotechnology company. With this partnership, the anti-aging brain supplement, EHT, became part of Nerium’s anti-aging line. In September, I attended one of Nerium’s national conferences where I had the privilege to hear nationally renowned, psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen speak. I had no idea how amazing and credible this man was on his study and knowledge of the brain. He has brain clinics all over the country, Amen Clinics, scanning brains to help people reverse the aging of their brain and improve their brain health. Dr. Amen uses Nerium’s, EHT as part of his brain health protocol. He was a part of proving to the NFL the damage that concussions have on the brain because of the brain screening and scanning he performs. When Dr. Amen started talking about brain food and the importance that diet has on the impact of the aging and health of the brain, I thought I was in dietician heaven. Amen talked about how being considered obese actually ages your brain 16 years! Being overweight ages your brain 8 years. How crazy is that?! We never think about how weight can impact our actual aging of our brain. I sat there thinking to myself, what a great and different way to look at things?! Instead of focusing on body, body, body, what if people started looking at their brain?! There isn’t the shame, guilt and judgement, because it’s your brain health!! No one shames you for how healthy your brain is! Check out more on Dr. Amen at www.myfitbrain.com.
As I listened to Dr. Amen, I thought about the countless clients that I see that struggle with the body weight shame cycle and how this new approach could be so valuable. When I came back and discussed what I had learned, a lot of my clients had a shift. Some had family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia, so the thought of that happening to them was a real fear. Some were extremely intrigued with the brains actual aging eight plus years because of their weight. And that the best part was that they could reverse that and minimize the risk of these diseases with what they ate. THEY held the control. And most of all, it was an entirely different way to look at their food relationship by focusing on incorporating these brain foods in their diet. You see, when there is only focus on weight, there is such a judgement, a pass or fail, if you will. But with this focus, on the brain, all of that goes away. Weight will shift by replacing unhealthy foods with brain food, but when weight- aka pass or fail, is not the prime focus, there is no cycle to break or baggage to carry. Only honoring and caring for your brain and your body.
I want to point out that eating too little, has just as negative of an impact on your brain, especially your cognitive function. As much as there is evidence that being obese and overweight ages your brain, being too thin will have the same effect. Your brain can not function without enough food, enough fuel, and enough brain food. So for those of you that are reading this and struggle on the end of eating too little, please know that you prioritizing your brain health and incorporating these foods into your diet is just as equally beneficial. We all have brains, we are all aging, no matter what size we are. These are things we cannot change. But we can change how we are treating our brains and therefore, our bodies.
So what are some of these powerhouse foods that help our brain? Omegas are top on the list. They are our best friend to our brain. Wild fish, omega -3 enriched eggs, dairy products and meat from grass fed cows, walnuts, flaxseed and beans are just some of the foods that have huge brain power. Omega-3 fatty acids are a huge anti-inflammatory, helping with lowering triglycerides, joint pain, depression, as well as DHA, another omega-3, important for visual and neurological development in infants.
Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist who studies the impact of food on mood and health, touts omega-3’s to be one of the most important things we can eat for our brains. His five top brain foods are 1. Seafood- from anchovies, oysters and clams to wild caught salmon, mackerel and rainbow trout. He points out that not all fish are created equal. Be careful of farm raised fish because of the higher levels of toxins. 2. Nuts-not only are these high in omega-3, but also have an ounce of protein in just ¼ cup, which is about a handful. A lot of people I see are avoidant of nuts because they are “high in calories and fat”, but this is one of nature’s best gifts to our heart and our brains. 3. Beans/Legumes- these are foods are high in Vitamin B9, fiber and phytonutrients. 4. Leafy greens. These beautiful green plants are a wonderful liver detoxifier. I saved the best for last, 5. Dark chocolate-with a high cacao, has been linked to increasing focus by improving brain function as well as decreasing the occurrence of age-related memory decline. To check out more on Dr. Drew Ramsey, visit his website, www.drewramseymd.com
What I love about both Dr. Amen and Dr. Ramsey, is that they are both psychiatrists. They are doctors of the brain. So instead of looking at a medicine, which is what most people think of with psychiatrists, they are looking at the gifts of Mother Nature and what they can do to improve our lives. They have studied the effects that brain food have. We all know that eating processed, refined, high sugar foods are bad for your body. But have you ever considered what it is doing to your brain? How does it feel to you to look at that way? Step away from the shame and guilt that may surround your body and focus on your brain. That shift is truly about health, truly about YOU. There is no judgement, there is no shame, there is no guilt attached. There is only honoring and caring for the one part of your body that you need the most, your brain.