Written by: Cheryl McCormick, M.S.S.
When it comes to the brain, most people forget that it is a major organ in the body, that also like other organs, requires attention. This attention comes in the form of self-care. Sure, you might be thinking, a nice head/scalp massage or a pretty hair makeover. But, the brain actually needs care that comes in the form of food. Aside from fueling the brain, or what we know as 'Brain Food" it also needs rest and hydration- like all other parts of our body. This process is considered to be the rest and recovery phase. Something we like to talk a LOT about in sports medicine.
Your brain is hungry for the right foods. Because the brain NEVER stops (that is of course, while the body is alive and well), it requires a steady amount of energy that comes from a rich source of water, nutrients, and vitamins. These sources come from the food that is put into the body.
Fun Fact: The human brain is about 60% fat and requires a stable amount of energy to fuel it, to keep it strong!
I am sure you have heard of most of these items listed in the photos above, and you might eat some of them in your regular diet, too! Although the colors are extremely enticing, and dishes that have an array of colors from fruits, vegetables, and proteins look ideal in a picture, the problem is that MOST people do not consume this diet, daily. Humans, tend to consume more processed foods- fast foods that are pumped with sugar and salts, or fried in oils that are not heart or brain healthy. Processed foods that are also among some of the highest foods consumed in America.
Imagine consuming plates that looks this beautiful in color, and rich in vitamins and minerals, proteins, and healthy fats! Your body would be thriving.
Let me break it down for you:
Complex carbohydrates provide the body/brain with fuel that keeps the vital organs running. What are complex carbs? They are found in brown rice, whole grains, potatoes (sweet potatoes), and legumes. Because the brain never sleeps and it is the control center of our body (aside the heart), imagine why people feel horrible: headaches, brain fog, mood swings, and jolts of random-uncontrollable emotions. It is because the food put into the body is not properly fueling it. Think of it like this- your car requires a specific type of gas and oil to run properly. When you put cheap gas and oil into it, it begins to break down, thus, not performing well and eventually it won't turn back on. The same process goes for your body.
Good fats are essential nutrients for the brain to maintain blood flow and cellular membranes, it also aids in memory, reduced depression and other mood disorders (anxiety, anxiousness, etc.), and diseases like dementia. These good fats are found in oily fish, vegetable oils, avocados and flaxseeds.
Proteins provide the body with amino acids. These proteins are lean (meaning- low in fat) and rich in protein source. Typically, you can find good protein in lean chicken, lean beef, and salmon. Amino acids help support the production of neurotransmitters and assist with memory and concentration. Want to stay focused in school, consume these proteins and increase your ability to listen to that professor that might cause you to sway off into sleep mode.
Fruits and vegetables are the best source for vitamins, fiber, and water. You might be confused, water? Yes. You read that correctly. A lot of leafy greens have a high water source in them. Ever cut into iceberg lettuce? It is mainly, water! What about celery? It is, water! And, various fruits like berries are rich in antioxidants, which fight off inflammation that damages brain cells due to free radicals.
So, why tell you all of this? Maybe you know some of this information already, maybe you don't. Either way, are you more likely to eat broccoli and healthy foods or...
fatty foods, fried in unhealthy fats, loaded with salt or sugar, or both?
You see, the problem lies in the, BRAIN! Yes, your brain is the problem!
From day 1 of life, what we put into our mouth, wires our taste buds and our brains. We LOVE the sweet tastes from sugar, loaded in our morning coffee from Starbucks, and the salts and greasy foods like hamburgers and french fries. These foods are easy to consume and quickly satisfy a hungry body, but what we realize about 20 minutes after consuming these items is that we become tired, full, and lethargic. And, when you go on lunch break and return to work, how much energy do you really have after consuming an unhealthy meal? Are you unable to focus? Are you tired? Do you feel anxious, or began to stress out from your brain wandering off into la-la land?
When you rewire your brain from consuming unhealthy food on a regular bases, it becomes even harder to resist. But why? The short answer is because you are hungry. You like the taste of unhealthy foods, yet dislike the way they make you feel. They cause you to gain weight, thus causing a mental mindset distraction. But, knowing all of this, it is still hard to beat.
So, I ask you this, how will you go about eating healthier and kicking bad eating habits out the door? It takes a specific type of training from a professional to keep you on the right path. After all, we ALL consume bad foods and drinks every once in a while. But, it is how often you choose to consume bad foods that you must consider. Most people can not do this on their own and diets only last most people a short while before they fall back into poor eating habits. Like all good things in life, balance and consistency is key! Want more information on how to get started and stay on track? We got you covered! Sign up on our email list to stay up to date on classes that will teach you how to change your eating lifestyle, for good!
Mental motivation is key for your healthy success. Stay focused and work slowly to incorporate healthier foods into your everyday lifestyle. This process is done each day, and takes time to change. Don't beat yourself up, yet, when you start to feel down or desire bad foods, treat yourself with something healthy that has a little sweet or salty side to it. When you do this, you are satisfying an unhealthy craving and replacing it with a healthy food! Give it a try!