Over the last couple of weeks I have been featuring the brain and how we can support its function and protect the organ from degenerating as we age. Whilst lifestyle is very important in this respect it is the broad spectrum of nutrients.. not just vitamins and minerals but healthy fats, and the healthy kind of cholesterol which is necessary to produce hormones. The brain is a complex organ that requires a lot of fire power to function, and just missing out elements from the hundreds of nutrients required can result in a deterioration.
The first key element to eating for brain health is to omit industrially processed foods that contain harmful toxins and additives that have zero nutritional benefit and effectively ’empty’ calories. They might supply sugar and trans fats and look appetizing on a plate, but the brain will not recognize them as anything it can process. Processed foods Vs. Industrially manufactured foods
If you eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, some moderate whole grains, nuts and seeds, good quality meats and cold water fish that have not been farmed, you are doing a great job.
For the brain to function efficiently it needs other systems in the body to be healthy. The immune system is the barrier between the external world and all its contaminates and the brain. So your first line of defence is to keep that fed with the nutrients needed to produce all the various types of blood cells needed to repel opportunistic pathogens.
The digestive system needs to be in tip top condition so that food that is eaten is processed effectively so that the nutrients can be passed into the bloodstream and up to the brain.
The respiratory system needs to be maintained and giving up smoking and taking in clean fresh oxygen is essential… without that oxygen, carried by the blood, your brain with slowly die.
Week by week I am going through the individual nutrients in detail so that you can appreciate the importance each one of them has to the body. That is going to take the next 20 weeks which is why I am going to give you the shopping list now so you can get started on introducing some foods that might currently not be in your daily meals.
There are some key nutritional elements for brain health that will be supplied by this list including B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids, Amino Acids, Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc.
You can find out more about the B Vitamins I have already covered in the directory as well as catch up on the previous brain posts: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/
Shopping List for the brain and your other major organs providing the basic nutritional requirement for the body.
Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. (any other fresh seasonal produce you enjoy) At least five or six portions a day – use a cupped handful as an estimated portion size.
Lower Fructose Fruit – Bananas, kiwi, strawberries and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. Enjoy all fruit in season at least three portions a day.
Hot lemon and water first thing in the morning will not only give you a Vitamin C hit, start your digestive process off but will also help with sugar cravings.
Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats.Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness. Carbohydrates are an important food group. However, as we get older and less active you really only need a large spoonful of rice or potatoes on a daily basis. if you suffer from a Candida overgrowth be aware that it may not be the yeast in bread that causes a problem but the sugar or its substitute.
Fish – Salmon fresh and better quality tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals. (any fish that is available fresh not from farmed sources)
Meat and poultry – chicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Do buy high quality, organic if it is reasonably priced but you will find that most supermarkets stock local meats and poultry and will state if they are from free range sources.
Home cooked lean ham for sandwiches is very tasty but cheap sliced ham can contain too much additives. By an unsmoked ham joint from the butcher or supermarket as it will work out cheaper than buying sliced ham already prepared. To remove excess salt bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour, drain and add fresh water to the pan and bring to the boil for the rest of the cooking time.
Venison is a high quality protein if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious.
Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers. Bacon once a week is fine but do bear in mind that most processed meats contain a lot of salt.
Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.
Dairy and Eggs– Milk, butter and cheese (better to have the real stuff than whipped margarine) – organic yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four a week.
Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff. You can also use coconut oil for cooking.
Honey and extras –You really do need to avoid sugars refined and in cakes, sweets and biscuits but honey is a sweetener that the body has been utilising since the first time we found a bee hive and a teaspoon in your porridge is okay. Try and find a local honey to you. Dark chocolate – over 70% a one or two squares per day particularly with a lovely cup of Americano coffee is a delicious way to get your antioxidants.
Sauces – If you buy your sauces in jars and packets they will have a great many more ingredients than you bargained for. One of the worst is sugar or its substitutes. The greatest cooking skill you can develop is to be able to make a wide variety of sauces from scratch. If you do this you will be not only using fresh produce with its nutritional punch but also taking hundreds of pounds of sugar out of your diet over a lifetime.
Fluids– Green Tea and Black Tea with antioxidants and drink two to three cups a day. and other herbal teas, tap and mineral water. If you enjoy coffee then one or two cups a day of good quality ground or the more expensive brands of freeze dried instant coffee. Try hot water with sliced lemon first thing in the morning and get some Vitamin C.
Good quality alcohol in moderation and it is better to have one glass a day than binge at the weekend. Your liver can handle that far better.
Depending on the climate and altitude at which you live, you will need to experiment to find out how much fluid you need. If you have very low humidity you will need considerably more. Average is around the 2 litres per day of combined fluids.
I hope that this has given you some ideas of new foods that perhaps you can introduce to support your operating systems and major organs. This includes those that protect the brain and those that process and transtport the nutrients it needs.
Later this week Vitamin B5 and the start of the series on the heart.
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health – 1999 – 2018
A little bit about me nutritionally.
A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.
All available in Ebook from: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html
Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally