Whole Food Nutrition for your Mind and Brain Power!
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
You've all heard of them, right?
They are your big players in Nutrition
PROTEIN (AMINO ACIDS)
FATS (THINK OMEGAS, GOOD FATS, LIPIDS)
CARBOHYDRATES (OUR BODY TURNS THIS INTO GLUCOSE FOR BRAIN AND MUSCLE FUEL)
THEN THERE ARE THE;
MICRONUTRIENTS = VITAMINS & MINERALS
SO what does this have to do with your your Mental health right now?
How about absolutely - EVERYTHING
Nutrients - MACRO & MICRO - have an important role on your mental health in terms of your Mood, Energy & Function
For example - Every felt post lunch fatigue? how about late night alertness?
Ever thought that this may be a direct result of what you ate that makes you feel this way?
Lets talk about GOOD FATS first and foremost
Good fats are SUPERSTARS for-your-brain and cannot be made by the body you must get them from your diet!
Nuts, Seeds, Fatty Fish & Plant Oils
Chia, Hemp. Flaxseed - these are crucial little critters for the health and maintenance of our brain health and in turn our mental health!
Good fats allow our body to feel "safe" - they have a sustained release in our body when we eat them, meaning our blood sugars remain balanced and do not spike up or down.
If our body feels "safe", we stay in a state of calm and balance. When your brain and body know its fed with adequate good fat, you will feel sustained, happy, balanced. When you look over this in your diet your blood sugar could wane - meaning go up and down - and much research has suggested that changes in blood sugar can also feel like anxiety and vise versa. So get those good fats into every meal, they will help right now!
It's when we eat Saturated fats which compromise brain health over a long period of time that they can play with our mood and feelings.
Saturated fat is obtained in our diet from excess animal sources and overconsumption of packaged foods.
Protein is broken down into Amino Acids by our body and is needed for growth, development, synthesis and repair.
Inadequate protein in your diet will directly effect how you feel and behave.
The building blocks of protein (amino acids) contain the pre-cursors to our neurotransmitters.
Our happy hormones! - think - Serotonin, Dopamine, etc.
Amino acids help carry chemical messengers between neurons- Thus effecting our;
Adequate protein is key - and read that word again - Adequate, not an over-intake of powders and shakes. When a nutritionist says adequate - know I'm talking about WHOLE FOOD, not packed or powdered crap.
Different carbohydrates = Different Symptoms
High Glycemic Index carbohydrates such as white bread cause a rapid release of glucose into the blood and shortly after comes a dip in our blood sugar - and with it so does our attention, mood and energy. You may crave sugar after this because your body feels like it needs it to feel energised again after such a big slump, and so the vicious cycle CAN continue!
On the other hand, Oats, Grains, legumes and Nuts/Seeds have a slower glucose release, which provides us with level mood, attentiveness and energy for longer periods of time, without the so called "dip".
Next time you are reaching for a quick sugar or processed white carbohydrate, see if you can simply CHANGE the option - note I didn't say "remove", I said change.. Can you have brown versions of your white high GI (glycemic index) friends?
brown rice instead of white, wholegrain seedy bread instead of white for example. Oats mixed with nuts and seeds instead of packaged cereals.
My point here is we should come back to basics before trying to play with our Macros and removing a complete portion of what is MEANT to be in our diets and start honing in on how we can make our food choices WHOLE. That starts with making a complete meal with whole food, every meal!
A balanced diet will help your brain from going from one direction to another, so to speak, eg fatigue to awake, moody to down. Our brains benefit from a steady supply of Macro and Micronutrients (more on Micronutrients later).
The antioxidants found in an abundance of fruit and vegetables fight off free radicals that can destroy brain cells - enabling the brain to work well for longer periods.
In order for the brain to function optimally - it needs FUEL and LOTS of it!
20% of our energy resources are used by the brain...predominately in the form of CARBOHYDRATES! - which our body digests and changes into glucose (or you may have heard of this as blood sugar)
The frontal lobe of the brain is so sensitive to sudden drops in glucose that a change in mental function is one of the most common signals of nutrient deficiency - yet we still read an article that says remove a food group to get to our "goal" without seeking proper, informed, professional nutritional advice!!! and here I am giving it to you for free!
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?
Food combine your Macronutrients into EVERY, SINGLE, MEAL.
Remember Protein doesn't come from a packet.
Good fats are GOOD for you
Carbohydrates are necessary for healthy brain function, hormones and mood - swap your whites for whole-food brown versions. Think COMPLEX (slower release) over HIGH GI packaged foods.
Leave with the notion of adding nutrients back into your diet instead of removing. Removing doesn't = health and wellness, it means nutrient deficiencies and fatigue in the long run as well as failure to adapt to exercise and stress.
Keep an eye out for my MASTERCLASS SERIES -NUTRIENTS - CLASS 1- the first one being about MACRONUTRIENTS - please reach out if you'd like to be the first to know when this is going to land!