Feeding your brain
Lynsey Walker, MSc
Our brain is the command centre of our body, so it makes sense that we feed it to maintain its health. Discover the important nutrients our brain needs to thrive.
Too often when we think of our health, we tend to separate the body and mind, as if one can function independently without the other. This way of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth, as every system in our body is interconnected and relies on the other’s health to optimize its own. Let’s take a look at some of the influences that have an impact on our brain, mind, and mood.
Free radicals in our brain can be produced by everything from cigarette smoke and air pollution to poor dietary choices, and the damage they cause has been identified as one of the brain’s key agers. A diet rich in an array of colourful fruits and veggies is the best way to nourish the body with antioxidants and prevent free-radical damage from occurring in the brain.
Primary antioxidants like superoxide dismutase can also be found in supplement form. Sourced from a special type of melon, this antioxidant has been proven to help reduce levels of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Let the sun shine in
Most Canadians could do with a dose of vitamin D at the best of times. Vitamin D acts much more like a hormone than a vitamin, and deficiencies are being linked to more and more diseases and ailments. When it comes to our brains, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, seasonal mood changes, and anxiety disorders.
Try getting at least 15 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a few times per week (depending on your skin tone), and supplement wisely throughout the year, aiming to get at least 1,000 IU daily to reduce your risk of brain- and mood-related disorders.
Fertilize with miracle grow
Well, not the actual fertilizer, but rather the fruit of the coffee plant; this little pink berry has a remarkable impact on an important brain protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein active in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which play a critical role in developing and repairing neurons and preventing neuron degeneration.
What does that mean for the brain? It means that BDNF is an important player in stabilizing mood and increasing learning, memory, and alertness. A daily dose of coffee fruit concentrate increased BDNF on average by 143 percent.
The health of our brain is very much a reflection on the overall state of our health. We need to feed it nourishing foods, make quality time for rest and relaxation, and supplement with key nutrients that will keep it strong and working hard long into our old age.