Optimizing Brain Power with Nurition

by | Aug 7, 2020 | Cognitive Health, Digestive Health, Nutrition

If you struggle with brain fog or get overwhelmed or distracted easily it can be difficult to be as productive as you’d like to be.

Food is not only fuel for your body, but for your brain as well.

Discover the underlying causes of brain fog as well as strategies to optimize your brain power and productivity.

 

 1. Your gut bacteria – your microbiome

 

Your microbiome is home to trillions of microbes including bacteria, yeasts and viruses. It has an enormous impact on all aspects of your health including your cognitive abilities and mental health.

Dysbiosis is a general term for an imbalance or overgrowth of bacteria. This can be caused by poor diet, stress, medications.

Inflammatory bacteria produce inflammatory compounds including lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and also stimulate your immune system releasing inflammatory cytokines and histamine.

This inflammation doesn’t stay in your gut – it enters your blood stream and directly impacts your brain function.

Healthy bacteria regulate inflammation by downregulating infalmmatory immune modecules, histamine and d-lactic acid.

They also produce building blocks of important brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin which are needed for focus, decision making and mental health.

Your serotonin levels also directly affects your sleep: serotonin is converted to melatonin which helps us achieve deep, restful sleep and improves our cognitive performance.

When we feed our healthy gut microbes the fuel they prefer (fibre) and starve the unhealthy microbes of their fuel (sugars) we build a microbiome and supports optimal brain function.

 

Foods to support your microbiome:

  • fibre: aim for 30 g or more per day of both soluble and insoluble fibre. The more variety the better. Whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • fermented foods: yogourt, kimchi, true fermented pickles and sauerkraut
  • antioxidant rich foods: berries, onions and garlic, brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale), sweet potatoes and carrots.

2. Nutrient Deficiencies

Deficiencies of B vitamins, vitamin D and iron as well as macronutrients such as complex carbohydrates are common nutrient deficiencies that have a major impact on your cognitive function.

Risk factors for nutrient deficiencies:

  • people on special diets: gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, hypoallergenic or AIP diets
  • chronic digestive health conditions: malabsorption of nutrients due to Celiac disease, SIBO, hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), pancreatic enzyme insufficiency
  • the elderly: lowered absorption of B vitamins and iron, poor ability to produce vitamin D due to age related skin changes
  • heavy periods: can cause low iron levels
  • autoimmune diseases
  • people on extremely low carb diets

It’s important that you don’t self prescribe vitamin supplements, especially iron.

If you think you may have a nutrient deficiency speak with one of our practitioners.

 

3. Omega 3 fatty acids

Also known as fish oil, omega 3 fats are highly antiinflammatory healthy fats that provide a multitude of benefits to our bodies and brain.

Our brain is mostly fat, including cholesterol, so we need adequate fat intake to support the health of our brain.

If we consume a lot of inflammatory fats such as deep fried foods that doesn’t provide the same benefit – we need the anti-inflammatory power of omega 3 fats for our brain health.

One of the ways in which they help with cognitive function is by reducing inflammation.

Omega 3s can be found in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds.

 

Guidelines for buying fish:

1. Packaged fish: check the back of the bag where it says “product of”. Purchase fish from North America or Europe only as they have higher food quality standards and regulations.

2. Purchase wild fish, when possible.

3. Avoid large fish: the larger the fish the higher risk for mercury and other heavy metals. Aim for medium to smaller fish such as salmon, sardines, cod and halibut.

 

A clinically effective dose of omega 3 is 2-3g (that’s 2000 to 3000 mg) per day. To get a clinically effective dose of omega 3 you’ll need a high quality fish oil supplement.

When purchasing a supplement always check to ensure it’s been third party tested to ensure purity and that it’s free of heavy metals.

4. Blood Sugar:

Everything you eat eventually gets digested into sugars that enter the blood stream and then enter cells to be used to produce energy.

Every cell in your body, including your brain, needs glucose to function.

For this reason, your body needs to maintain a blood sugar level in a healthy range to function optimally.

When blood sugars are chronically high it promotes inflammation and increases your risk of type II diabetes and heart disease.

When blood sugars drop too low you may feel weak, lightheaded and very hungry. This also triggers strong cravings for carbohydates; your body’s attempt to normalize blood sugar levels quickly.

Your brain needs fuel to function. It’s preferred fuel is glucose.

For this reason it’s extremely important to keep your blood sugar balanced so both your body and your brain have a steady supply of glucose.

 

 

Top tips for balancing blood sugar:

1. Eat every 3 to 4 hours: skipping meals causes blood sugar crashes.

2. Every meal and snack should include: protein + fat + complex carbs + fruit or vegetable

Protein and fat are digested much slower than carbohydrates which slows the absorption into your bloodstream. Fibre also slows the absorption of your meal and balances blood sugar.

3. Be sure to manage your stress levels: stress hormones promote the release of glucose into your blood stream causing high blood sugar levels and crashes.

 

Corporate Wellness Seminars

All of our practitioners offer corporate wellness seminars and webinars to support your employees health and productivity.

If you’re interesting in booking a corporate seminar please email us

hello@verdurewellnessclinic.com

Verdure Wellness Clinic in Waterloo, ON offers naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, nutrition consulting, massage therapy and chiropractic care. Our team of health practitioners offer a variety of services with your best health and wellness in mind.

305-55 Erb Street E, Waterloo, Ontario   •    519.742.0691

hello@verdurewellnessclinic.com    •    BOOK NOW   •    ABOUT   •    CONNECT

Pin It on Pinterest