Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 10 - 10 Days to a Healthier You in 2012!

Day 10 – Brain Boosters

Your brain is the command center of your body.  It receives information and responds by sending out signals to all parts of your body at speeds that leave computer techs speechless.

More than 60% of your brain is primarily made of fat and accounts for approximately 2% of our body weight.  Your brain requires a constant food supply and your diet has a direct effect on your mood, your behavior, your thought processes, your ability to learn a new skill, to remember your to do list and so much more!

Here’s the problem, fat is a substance that is very easily oxidized.  When fat becomes oxidized it becomes thick and sticky and inhibits proper function.  While we cannot control all sources of oxidation, we are in control of the food we eat, so today’s info includes many of the foods that are beneficial either directly or indirectly to the brain.

Another problem which contributes to nervous system disorders and various brain dysfunctions is inflammation.  Inflammation arises from over stimulated immune system responses.  The latest research indicates that chronic inflammation has its roots in the digestive system.  This may be due to the connection to a less common, but important part of the nervous system known as the enteric nervous system located in the GI system.  It is often referred to as your second brain.

When you consume foods that contain common allergens it triggers an inflammatory response.  Wheat and cow’s milk are the most common triggers.  However, omega 6 fatty acids, trans fats and refined sugars also contribute to the problem.  In fact when our immune system becomes over stimulated it can be a significant contributor as well.

According to a recent study performed at the University of Wisconsin, the brain may react to excess food consumption (overeating) as if it were a pathogen triggering an immune response that has been linked to Alzheimer's.  And another study demonstrated that higher than normal blood sugars, coupled with a moderately difficult cognitive task may create elevated cortisol levels in the blood stream, and cortisol has been shown to impair memory. 
So to help you make the best food choices to protect and repair your brain cells, here is a list of foods that either directly or indirectly improve brain function.  Adding at least 2 per day can dramatically impact your memory and so much more!  Each of the lists below contain foods that offer the most direct impact on the brain and nervous system.
Foods Rich in Anti-Inflammatories
Papaya including seeds
Avocados and Avocado Oil
Greens, especially Kale
Sweet Potatoes
Chili Peppers, especially Cayenne

Foods Rich in Anti-Oxidants
Berries, especially Blueberries
Greens, especially Kale
Sweet Potatoes
Raw Cacao
Green Tea, especially Matcha

Foods Rich in Choline
Egg Yolks
Flax Seeds and Flax Oil
Olives and Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive OIl
Nuts – Almonds, Walnuts & Cashews
Cruciferous Veggies – Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Kale
Beans – Kidney, Black and Navy
Cacao Powder
Black Strap Molasses
Nutritional Yeast
Oat Straw and Bran

Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Flax Seeds and cold pressed Flax Oil
Walnuts and cold pressed Walnut Oil
Pistachios and Oil
Pumpkin Seeds and Oil
Chia Seeds
Wild, Line Caught Alaskan Salmon
Wild, Line Caught Alaskan Halibut

Armed with all of this information, here is a very tasty smoothie to get you off on the right path!

Aztec Chocolate Smoothie
Thick, smooth, dark chocolate, a hint of spicy chili and sweet cinnamon . . . Who guessed great nutrition could taste this amazing? 

1 1/2 cups Chocolate Almond Milk
2 1/2 cups ice frozen from pH 9.5 ionized water
1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne Pepper (adjust to your personal taste)
1/2 scoop Garden of Life’s Raw Meal
1/2 scoop Garden of Life’s Raw Fiber 
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon flax or walnut oil

2 tablespoons sheep, goat or coconut yogurt
1 pinch stevia powder
Dash of cacao powder, cayenne and cinnamon
Raw cacao nibs

In advance chill 2 12-16 oz glasses in freezer. Pour all smoothie ingredients into your VitaMix or blender and blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.

In a small bowl mix yogurt, agave, caco powder and spices. Set aside for garnish topping.

Divide smoothie between 2 glasses. Spoon on a dollop of yogurt spice mix, sprinkle with cacao nibs and serve with an umbrella and a long handled spoon!

Nutrition Note: The cayenne pepper simulates blood circulation, cinnamon regulates blood sugar, caco is a great source of natural antioxidants, flax and walnut oils are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids,  Raw Fiber is derived from sprouted grains, fruits and vegetables and regulates digestion, while Raw Meal is a power packed protein, vitamin and mineral source derived primarily from sprouted grains, fruits and vegetables. If you use Coconut Yogurt this is a Vegan option.

Menu Suggestions:
Saffron Rice Salad

Sweet Potato Hash with Wilted Spinach and Poached Eggs

Mango and Cherry Salsa

Mango Salad

Lemon, Caper and Dill Salmon

Beverage Suggestions:
Proper hydration is a key factor in brain function.  As you may have read on this blog or heard in one of my lectures, I believe that the antioxidant property of properly ionized water is the key to reversing oxidation and increasing hydration. 
1-2 cups of green or matcha tea per day
1-2 cups of coffee per day (before 2 pm – after 2 pm it raises cortisol levels)
Ginko Biloba Tea

20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week is a great way to improve blood flow.
Puzzles and word games keep brain synapses firing and neural pathways functioning.

Now we are at the end of this 10 Day’s to a Healthier You in 2012!  Congratulations for taking the opportunity to step up and take responsibility for your own heath and well being.  I do hope you found this information helpful to you.

Dr. P

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