(First featured over here on Onya Magazine)
Nothing gets my “geek juices” flowing more than reading about how the brain works, and more to the point, how what we eat affects this highly important organ.
The way we think is EVERYTHING when it comes to achieving certain results in our life (or not!).
If we want insight into the reasons why our lives, health, bodies and finances are as they are today, it is important to consider just what is going on upstairs.
And, it isn’t always so obvious.
Many clients report to me just how horrified they are once they start paying attention to their self-talk and they all of a sudden realise just WHY they are where they are!
How can we be flying high, kicking goals and feeling CONFIDENT when our inner voice is full of, “I can’t do it”; “Its too hard”; “I don’t trust that I will maintain it”; “It’s not possible for me”; “I’m lazy”; “Im fat”; “Im ugly”; “Im hopeless”, the list goes on!
Because our thoughts are the most VITAL key to our results in life, the first FUNdamental concept I discuss with my clients is Mindset Mastery. Just WHAT is going on up there and HOW can they begin to take back control and turn it around?
Something that really stumped me in all the years I had been working with people, and also a personal reflection, was the observation of how a usually naturally positive, productive, motivated, focused and energetic person, could all of a sudden become so negative, lethargic, disorganised, lost, disillusioned and ill.
If it was all just about thinking right, how COULD things go so wrong?
That is when I researched into and learned so much more about the role of the SUBCONSCIOUS mind and what a powerful and in fact, determining, factor it was in MOST of what we ACTUALLY think, say and do…. I learned so much about just what goes on behind the scenes that we often have NO idea about, and how, unless we decide to consciously dig deeper, it can completely sabotage and derail our efforts, intentions and desires.
Furthermore I learned a LOT about some incredible chemicals known as neurotransmitters and just what affects the production of these all important messengers that impact everything from our digestion, metabolism, moods, outlook, success, motivation, relationships, health and so much more!
So, to cut to the chase, today I would love to share with you some key insights into how what you put in your mouth affects the functioning of your brain, the production of these powerful neuro-chemicals, and how this impacts literally every aspect of your life that you would care to know about.
Today, an introduction to the brain.
It is important to firstly understand the basic make up of this 3 pound, tofu-like organ.
Just like any other part of your body, the brain is made up of billions of cells. The cells of the brain are a specialised type called neurons.
Like any other cell, neurons are composed of a membrane that is mostly lipid (fat) surrounding a central collection of other specialised cells suspended in water.
So at the most basic level, your brain is mostly made up of water and fat, with fat accounting for about 60% of its “dry weight”. Your spinal cord is similar, being about 70% fat.
Further to this, the type of fat that makes up these highly important structures is the most flexible type known – highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs). The incredibly flexible nature of these fats means that the membranes they form are also highly flexible, allowing rapid communication between the billions of cells in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals responsible for transferring information between neurons, and most of these are made within the brain.
Just like any other part of our body, brain cells and neurotransmitters are created from nutrients, thus without the correct type and amount of nutrients, it makes sense that we will struggle to function at our most optimal.
In the following pieces you will find a bit of a “checklist” you can tick off to ensure that you are supplying your brain with all of the essential elements it needs to give you its best, thus creating a happier, healthier, more harmonious life:
1) Water -
This is the most essential aspect to a healthy brain and mind.
Being the most predominant material of which the brain is composed it is a NON-NEGOTIABLE factor in contributing to a clear, happy and “calmly alert” mind.
I advise my clients to drink at least 3 litres a day.
No, caffeinated beverages do not count as they are diuretics which cause you to lose fluid.
Yes, non-caffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, rosehip, rooibos do count, and yes they make yummy iced versions to give water a refreshing change.
Adding lemon, lime or orange slices can also make water more attractive, and fresh mint or cucumber can add an interesting twist.
In the winter I find it really hard to drink cold water so I sip on warm water (boiled water mixed 2:1 with cold/room temperature water), as well as loads of peppermint tea.
Experiment and have fun.
Just please know that if you have a brain, as you clearly do if you are reading this article, your requirement for water is essential, no matter what your “thirst” may otherwise indicate.
Suck this up, (pardon the pun) and give it a go for just the next week.
Check in on how you’re feeling and have some way of tracking and tallying what you are getting in ☺
Most of all, enjoy the incredible difference this one habit can make to your daily sense of calm, peace and focus!
If you have any questions on this, please feel free to email me on email@example.com
Until next instalment enjoy the incredible benefits of having a properly hydrated brain! ☺
Yours in geeky juices,
Dietitian~Counsellor~Eating Psychology Coach