Eating for Judy’s (and your) brain – Part 1

Judy struggles with chronic fatigue.  She explains why she eats what she does as self medicating with food.  I’ve been listening to podcasts* to help her figure out what food is better than the carbohydrates she craves for energy.  (Hey! That’s what friends are for).

This is Part 1 on food and the brain.  Part 2 (coming) focuses on how to change what foods you crave to better “feed” what your brain needs.

Meowie brain:lifting circle

Dear Judy,  Eat your FAT! 

Neurons thrive on glucose and sometimes on ketones. The most important ingredient to help neurons thrive is FAT.  Yep, the most important food to give your brain is fat.

This is because your brain’s cell membranes, which regulate electrical activity, are made of fat. (a bit different from body fat).

But not just any fat . . . Omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids are a key family of polyunsaturated fats.Omega 3 is found in fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, sardines, arctic char and trout. Omega 6 is found in nuts and seeds, corn, meat poultry, fish and eggs.  It is better to get Omega 6 from sources other than the saturated fats found in meat and dairy, and to get both kinds.

 
 

You can take supplements but it is better to get them from foods which also have other nutrients our brains and bodies need.

6 nutrients that enhance brain function and the foods to eat

eatwell

The top 3:

#1 EPA  mostly found in fish:  mackerel, salmon, anchovies, caviar, sardines, walnuts, and chia seeds. 

#2 Phosphosidolcerine: a lipid like compound  found in fish, meats and cabbage.

#3 Choline:  helps produce acetylcholine to enhance the activity of neurons which helps focus and alertness.  A primary source is egg yoke.  Many plant foods also contain choline such as potatoes, nuts, seeds, grains and fruit.

and a few more…..

#4 Creatine: found in meat and is a fuel source for the brain, can enhance mood regulation, and particularly helps with depression.

#5  Anthocyanins: found in dark blue & black berries and helps lower inflammation—a cup or two every day can help reduce DNA damage and cognitive decline.

brain-health-benefits-of-blueberries-infographic

#6 Glutamine is an amino acid found in cottage cheese, beef, chicken, fish, beans, cabbage, spinach, parsley, which can offset sugar craving as well as reduce inflammation.

Other things that affect your brain health indirectly:

1. Sleep is basis of all health mental and physical

nap

2.  Cardiovascular health and exercise 150-180 min per week of cardio, (Judy, that’s just 20 minutes a day).  Add in 5 minutes of  weights, crucial for heart-health which affects the brain.  ( I can hear you saying “it hurts to weight lift because of fibromyalgia”) . . . just find other things to lift – move furniture when cleaning, pick up garden tools when gardening . . . )

Part 2 focuses on how to change what foods you crave to better “feed” what your brain needs.

* Daniel Huberman’s podcast. 

Listen to the full podcast, click here: Nutrients for Brain Health and Performance

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