Blog courtesy of Professional Development Coach at TDM, Melanie Eastwood.
There is an overwhelming amount of information available to us on what we should and shouldn’t eat, how it affects us now and how our diet affects us in the future. I have some friends who are influenced by the most recent food craze of fad. One week they are vegan, the next pescatarian until they watched Netflix Documentary “Seaspiracy“, after which they became flexitarian and then reverted back to the original “balanced diet”. This week they are back to vegetarian in case you were wondering! We can become so influenced by what the media or friends passionately present to us on the right diet but don’t understand the health benefits or impact of specific foods on our bodies.
We have one body for our time here and it is important to take necessary and simple steps to take care if it! In this post I want to focus mainly on brain power foods as all apprentices and staff at TDM challenge and demand a lot from our brains everyday.
Neal Barnard, Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, led an extremely interesting TED Talk that uncovers some personal and helpful insights into how our diets affect us into old age and how we can protect ourselves now.
In the talk below, Neil shares how memory failure and Alzheimers disease is scientifically proven to be linked to a diet that includes higher levels of saturated fats and trans-fats in their diet. Saturated fats are predominantly found in foods such as bacon, dairy products like milk, cheese ice-cream and also red meat. Those who have high levels of these products in their diet have a two to three fold risk of developing memory failure and Alzheimers disease in old age. The study referenced in Neal’s talk also highlights the influence of trans-fats on the brain too in products such as doughnuts and pastries. They found that the very same pattern happened here. They didn’t just have an affect on cholesterol and heart disease, but they also seem to affect the brain. See the video here.
One of Neal’s main points is that “genes are not destiny!” You can’t think, my grandparents lived until they were 92 so I clearly have great genes. You are in charge of how your diet affects longevity.
So we know what we should be limiting or attempting to enjoy less of in our diet, but what foods have a proven positive impact on the brain and could be described as “power food for the brain”?
Vitamin E is super important for brain function as it is an anti-oxidant and can be found in the following foods:
- Red Bell peppers
- Nuts & Seeds (especially almonds)
People getting 8 milligrams of Vitamin E cut their risk of Alzheimer Disease by 50%. Don’t think that popping Vitamin E pills will sort the problem, we need to take it from natural foods around us. How can you include nuts or seeds in your diet? Sprinkle on your porridge? pancakes? Think about how you can take a step to do this.
Another important lesson is to look at the colourful foods around us – blueberries, grapes, carrots, tomatoes. These foods have vibrant colours and we are meant to be naturally drawn to them. I shared this with my little brother and he sarcastically quipped “by that logic, skittles are great for you too then!” Definitely not the point! Do your best to make sure you aren’t constantly eating from a plate that reflects different shades of beige! Try and be conscious of the healthy eating plate pictured below:
The protein group on the plate doesn’t have to be meat, it could be beans tofu etc. This shows an active move towards promoting a consciously balanced diet where people are informed about why they need to include certain food groups into their daily diet and how it affects them now and in later life.
Another helpful article to check out too is 11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory which list foods like the following:
- Fatty fish – a rich source of omega-3s, a major building block of the brain. Omega-3s play a role in sharpening memory and improving mood, as well as protecting your brain against decline.
- Coffee – can help boost alertness and mood. It may also offer some protection against Alzheimer’s, thanks to its caffeine and antioxidants.
- Blueberries – are packed with antioxidants that may delay brain aging and improve memory.
- Turmeric – its active compound curcumin have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, which help the brain. In research, it has reduced symptoms of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Broccoli – contains a number of compounds that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including vitamin K.
- Pumpkin Seeds – rich in many micronutrients that are important for brain function, including copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.
- Dark Chocolate – The flavonoids in chocolate may help protect the brain. Studies have suggested that eating chocolate could boost both memory and mood.
- Nuts – contain a host of brain-boosting nutrients, including vitamin E, healthy fats and plant compounds.
- Oranges – and other foods that are high in vitamin C can help defend your brain against damage from free radicals.
- Eggs – a rich source of several B vitamins and choline, which are important for proper brain functioning and development, as well as regulating mood.
- Green Tea – an excellent beverage to support your brain. Its caffeine content boosts alertness, while its antioxidants protect the brain and L-theanine helps you relax.
Think about how you and those around you protect and boost your brain through your diet and make some conscious decisions to move towards a healthier you with some simple tweaks.
Q. How would you say your diet compares to the Healthy Eating Plate above?
Q. Out of the list of 11 brain power foods above, what do you already include in your diet?
Q. Would you find it challenging to reduce some of the bad fats in your diet? Is there something you feel you should remove or consciously enjoy less of?
Q. From the video, what did you learn about the impact of iron & copper on the brain? (7min point of video)
Q. What is a “free radical”? Do some research to find out.
Q. Obviously you can’t just rely on diet, what are you doing for yourself in terms of exercise and fitness?