Brain Food

Nutrition is VERY important if you want to be healthy, live long, value yourself, and feel physically well. Since so many of my clients suffer from depression or anxiety, I’ve done a little research on what helps to boost your mood. This is brain food. Here are my recommendations:

Brain

1. Eat a balanced diet with an emphasis on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein sources and few “empty calories.”

2. Cut out the junk food and artificial stimulants. Especially sugar. Despite the temporary lift, these substances  deplete and blunt valuable hormones in the long run. They also contribute to insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. Not good.

3.  Refrain from caffeine (including cola drinks), light chocolate, and alcohol. OK, if you can’t give up your morning coffee, limit yourself to one or two cups per day.

4.  Take a high-quality multi-vitamin & B complex supplements.

5.  Drink adequate pure water (8 glasses per day recommended).

6.  Be sure to get your protein. Turkey, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese, eggs, and beans all contain generous levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan is the amino that converts to serotonin (the feel-good chemical) in the brain.

7.  Be wary of “quick fixes.”  Grabbing a sugary treat feels good because it causes an instant release of serotonin. But carbs won’t stimulate the ongoing production of serotonin, which is what you want. Vegetables and healthy carbohydrates (such as a handful of nuts, a scoop of brown rice or a few tablespoons of legumes) with your protein helps your brain to process the tryptophan in the proteins.

8. Eat the “good fats.” Hormonal processes require essential fatty acid. Get plenty of DHA-enhanced eggs  in your diet. Eat fish a few times a week like tuna, mackerel and wild salmon.  Limited amounts of avocados, nuts, flaxseed, vegetable oils (walnut, avocado, almond, flax, olive) and seeds also provide us with good fats.

9. Take a fish oil supplement. Omega 3s are essential for brain health and mood regulation. Be sure to buy a high quality fish oil supplement. You get what you pay for. Watch out for saturated fats in the list of ingredients.

10. Investigate supplements wisely. There are so many differences in quality and in ingredients. Rather than looking in your local supermarket,  go to a health food store and talk to a knowledgeable person there if you don’t have the time or inclination to do your own research.

If you have a nutritional counselor who can help you with your specific needs, even better. As you change your dietary habits, you’ll value yourself more. Won’t it be nice to have an improved self esteem?

You may also want to refer to Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman, M.D. and Mark Liponis, M.D. I have to tell you that I have seen remarkable results in people who have followed the advice in this wonderful book. Once you see the changes in your health, mood, and energy, you won’t want to return to your former bad habits. Our company has trained professionals that can help you with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, help with Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse, and all areas of Mental Health.

Recipe for “Big Brain Shake” by Barry Sears, M.D.

Dr. Barry Sears (The Zone Diet), states in The Anti-Inflammation Zone that he developed this shake for people with neurological problems such as attention deficit disorder and Alzheimer’s who need very high levels of EPA and DHA.

1 cup 2% milk

15 – 20 grams protein powder (whey or soy)

1 to 1 ½ cups of thawed frozen berries

Put all the ingredients in a blender and add up to a tablespoon of liquid fish oil (which contains 7.5 grams of EPA and DHA), and blend. You can add ice to make it more like a milkshake. The key is the milk globules found in 2% milk. These are preformed emulsions into which the added EPA and DHA will immediately incorporate. These fat emulsions are an ideal delivery system to maximize the fish oil absorption with virtually no taste. The protein powder (lactose-free why usually tastes the best) and the berries provide additional emulsification for any fish oil, plus make a very quick Zone diet meal. Be care to not take more than this amount of fish oil, because you can take too much. For more information, see his website at www.drSears.com.

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