How did you do this past week? Did you feed your brain and body good stuff? I did less than my norm because of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Can’t just let a pumpkin pie and a chocolate cake made expertly by the loving hands of my son go to waste, can I? So, I didn’t. Well, some got thrown away. Now that they are all gone, it is easier to get back to a good standard. I find it much easier to not even bring the bad-for-you, tempting stuff in the house on a normal basis. Works for me.
We all pretty much know the things not to eat. They are the same for your brain, in general, as for the rest of your body. However, I want to extend the list to include anything we breath into our bodies or introduce into our blood stream. Nuf said? It affects your brain. Not only in the mellow, far out, groovy way temporarily, but permanently in a not so cool kind of way over time. Repeated use of mind altering substances alters your brain permanently. It actually makes holes or areas where the blood does not flow anymore. Even cigarettes.
So what should you be putting in your body to boost your brain power? The three key essentials to keep your brain healthy and to keep your mental processes razor sharp are really pretty simple to say. Harder to do. They are nutritious food, water, and oxygen.
A highly intelligent diet would be heavy on the proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats. Proteins are essential to make neurotransmitters which are vital for smart processes. Carbohydrates break down into glucose which is the brain’s primary source of energy. You are aiming for a steady supply here.
The brain is more than 60% fat. The next time someone calls you a “fat head,” just say “thank you very much!” Brain cells are covered by a myelin sheath which is 75% fat. Fats also play a crucial role as important messengers. Good fats would be your omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in things like fish, nuts and flax seed. They can easily be added to your diet in a daily fish oil supplement. An excellent book for diet and supplements specifically for improving the brain is Gary Null’s Mind Power.
For those of you that like things spelled out, me included, here is a short list of especially good brain foods. The list will look familiar to you as it is the same stuff that is good for your heart.
Even if you don’t like going anywhere near the water, your brain loves water. Water makes up 83% of your blood and is the transport system to the brain, making the needed deliveries of nutrients and taking away toxins.
Studies have shown that most people are permanently partially dehydrated. If you’re already thirsty, you’re in this group. This means your brain is working considerably below its potential. I don’t know about you, but I surely don’t need that. So drink up. Water that is! I am guzzling water as I write this. That is one I have to continually work on. To my credit though, I have become quite a bathroom connoisseur and know where the best bathrooms are conveniently located all over town.
The third thing our brain absolutely needs for us to do is to just breathe. Easier said than done. We are taught to hold our stomachs in and breathe out of the top of our lungs for vanity. Relax. Let it all hang out. A little pot belly here is OK. You want to breath slowly and deeply into your diaphragm and even pooch out your stomach. One way in which it was described to me which helped me take my breath even deeper, but also always makes me kinda giggle just a little is you want to breath as if to distend your perineum. I always imagine myself saying to no one specific “Excuse me while I puff out my perineum.”
Digestion pulls oxygen away from your brain and diverts it to your stomach. So you don’t want to eat a big meal right before a task where you want all your brain power available. Eating little and often is best for your brain to stay alert. Cardiovascular exercise increases the oxygen in your blood and oxygenates your brain. Yet another reason to add to the list to exercise regularly.
Gulp. (More water.) Gotta go take a bathroom break. I am gonna try to do better this week in feeding my brain and giving it what it needs. Hope you do too!