CONDITIONING AND NOURISHING YOUR BRAIN
Illness and injury are almost immediately noticeable when they occur. So is energy change, especially when you have none! What’s harder to detect is a slow decline in your memory or ability to maintain a high cognitive function. Slow cognitive decline may include forgetfulness or difficulty processing tasks, and is more easily observable with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Much like your physical state, the brain and central nervous system responds to conditioning and certain nutrients especially when it is routinely practiced over time.
Exercising your brain...
Like your physical function, you lose what you don’t use. I studied AP calculus in high school, and physics in college, but I often have to double check my answers when correcting my 10 year old’s math homework! No matter what age you are, keeping your brain sharp and responsive can be done with regular activities...like reading, drawing, or playing a musical instrument. Keep learning from others while challenging yourself to a new skill set every few years. Attend lectures or online courses in topics you’ve always wanted to learn, and there are plenty educational opportunities through the internet, many of which are free!
Nourishing your brain…
Your central nervous system is composed almost entirely out of fat, and function by using proteins while being fueled by carbohydrates and ketones, a byproduct of fat metabolism. Like your muscle function, a lack of nutritional components can slow down the repair and remodeling of the fatty composition of the nervous system, mainly the brain. More and more research on the effect of inflammatory foods, like processed foods, sugars, and artificial food products has been implicated with destructive mechanisms to the brain over time, leading to conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even Multiple Sclerosis.
Here are some common foods that have been known to assist, enhance, and promote healthy brain and nervous system function:
Berries and deep colored fruits. Much of the antioxidant properties of fruit are present in the skin and colorful exterior of fruits. When cells undergo a destructive process by presence of chemical toxins or trauma, surrounding healthy cells create a buffer around those affected cells, often times donating electrons or cellular material in order to contain destructive regions. Antioxidants through the diet can strengthen the effect of the surrounding cells, or provide a buffer so healthy cells aren’t sacrificed in the clean-up process of other damaged cells.
Leafy green vegetables. The deeper the color, the more nourishing the veggies. Vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein are essential for cell function and repair, so start liking them!
Nuts. Walnuts and almonds contain omega-6 fatty acids which are essential building blocks for nerve cells. They also help to regulate blood sugar as the fatty acids can be consumed as energy in between meals.
Wine. Like berries, red wines are especially rich in antioxidants, but high in sugar alcohols. Choose moderate to little consumption if controlling blood sugar is an issue.
Olive and coconut oil. The more raw or uncooked the better. When oils are heated in cooking, they can lose their benefit or become glycolated, meaning they can bind with sugars in a carmelized structure during high heat. When consumed, glycolated oils and proteins become ineffective or at most, neutral in health benefit.
Fish. Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils are most prominent nutrients in fish. They are crucial providing essential fatty acids that are required for inflammation control and nerve regeneration. Additionally, protein sources from fish are rich in essential and non-essential amino acids which are also necessary for muscle tissue repair.
Of course there are a lot of factors in nervous system diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Stimulating and nourishing the nerve cells and brain have been associated with prevention and even treatment of post neurological episodes. Unless there are specific allergies to the above recommended dietary sources, all of the above are whole food derived sources of nutrients that your body is most likely to welcome naturally and deliciously! Have some fun in building brains and brawn, and your 100 year old self will thank you one day!