“You are what you eat” is a phrase that has its origins with the French lawyer and politician Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in the 1800’s and was popularized by an American nutritionist, Victor Lindlahr, in the 1920’s and 30’s. It literally means that the food we eat influences our state of mind and health. These farsighted individuals made observations about the importance of diet in brain function and health, which are now being validated by current research. It is well established that hungry and malnourished children perform poorly in school and adequately nourished children perform better, but more recent studies reveal that students consuming a high quality diet perform better yet than those on a low quality diet.
Put your Best Food Forward
What is the diet that optimizes brain function?
complex carbsLike the rest of the body, the brain uses glucose (blood sugar) as its primary source of energy. In fact the brain uses more than 60% of all the glucose that courses through our veins. Because neurons require a constant supply of glucose and are unable to store energy, the optimum diet should consist of foods high in complex carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables that convert to glucose slowly. Complex carbohydrates are like time release capsules of sugar.
Additionally, meals should be evenly spaced, about four hours apart, to insure a consistent supply of blood sugar. Animal protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, etc), and beans provide the brain with the amino acids, and healthy fats which are needed to make neurotransmitters. Protein and fat provide the nuts and bolts and glucose fuels the machinery.
Your Brain on Sugar
So why can’t a Coke and candy bar keep you on top of your game?
brain healthA sugary snack provides us with a short-lived boost of energy followed by a big drop in energy. When you eat something high in sugar, you literally experience a “sugar high”. In response to this, your pancreas secretes insulin, which causes the cells throughout the body to pull the excess glucose out of the blood stream and shove it into cells or carry it off to the liver where it is made into fat. Soon the amount of glucose available to the brain has dropped and the neurons are starved for energy. This brain energy drain reduces your ability to focus and think. Frequent indulgence in high sugar snacks also causes the neurons to become insulin resistant, impairing glucose utilization leading to neuron death. Insulin resistance and diabetes increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
For brain and immune health
The “microbiom” is the term coined by researches to describe the tens of millions of beneficial bacteria that inhabit every surface of our bodies. While the important role that these bacteria play in our health is invisible to us, we could not survive without them. Recent research has revealed the importance of these probiotics in preventing the side effects of antibiotics, alleviating lactos intolerance, reducing cholesterol and maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics have also been recognized as being important in brain and immune health. The presence of a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut supports the immune system by creating a thicker stronger mucosal barrier to pathogens. Additionally, a new and exciting area of research has recognized the “gut-brain-micro biota axis”. Researchers now know that there is an interdependent connection between the gut, the brain and the microflora in our bowel, which are responsible for generating many neurotransmitters that effect brain function.
Optimize Your Brain
Besides a healthy diet there are many additional things that help boost memory and focus.
Taos Herb Company makes a product called Kid-a-Mind that helps calm and focus a child’s attention. This product combines Ashwaganda and Gotu Kola, which promote learning and memory, with Passion Flower, Lemon Balm and Oat, which are calming.
Adults with memory problems can benefit from Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo biloba herb increases blood circulation and the delivery of much needed oxygen to the brain. Ginkgo is also a rich source of the bioflavonoid called proanthocyanidin, which helps protect neurons from damage.
Cold and Flu Season around the Corner
Returning to school in the fall is an exciting time. Along with the stimulation of new learning, we are steeped in the social community of new and old friends. But along with new academic challenges come new challenges to your immune system due to contagious illnesses.
There is no better time than now to support and build your immune system in anticipation of the flu and cold season. Herbal formulas like Reishi Shitake Astragalus and Power Echinacea support and build the immune system.
Stock up on these and many other effective brain and immune supportive products at Taos Herb Company in the month of August.
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