We know how destructive stress can be to our brain and body. Our brain is vulnerable to burnout and working overtime. Modern imaging has shown that the harder we work the brain needs more nourishment to complete the tasks. So, it’s not surprising to learn that permanent damage can occur when there are not enough nutrients for the daily maintenance and repair for the brain to function. It can affect performance or lead to mental decline in illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and dementia.
For brain health, we need more fresh vegetables and fruits.in our diet. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals more concentrated than proteins, fats and carbohydrates foods that are readily available everywhere.
It surprised me on my recent travels to Portugal and Spain while the food was excellent, there were less fresh vegetables. A lot of tomatoes but few greens since we were eating all our meals in restaurants. I would get so excited when I saw lettuce and cut raw vegetables! Europeans eat mostly cooked vegetables.
We can never consume enough fresh vegetables and fruits! The vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits provide the energy for our brain and body to function. They regulate billions of chemical reactions in the body. They drive the chemistry of tissues and cells that communicate with one another and prolong the cells lifespan. Vitamins are needed for production of energy and for the all the body systems to work.
A healthy meal plate is three quarters volume of vegetables and fruits with smaller portions of protein, fats and starches. Eating fresh raw, partially cooked or in soups or stews are great ways to enjoy it.
For brain health, increasing your intake of B3 nutrients also known as Niacin, can be effective for managing stress. Niacin converts carbohydrates into glucose to metabolize fats and proteins and make sex hormones. It helps with making adrenal hormones (i.e. cortisol) to regulate stress. If not available dietarily our body’s can make it through tryptophan the amino acid which is used to make serotonin (hormone that keeps us awake during the day). However, It is more demanding for the body to make it on its own since it can deplete serotonin and lead to a further decline in mood and brain function and other sex hormones. It's a fine balance. Eating proteins and vegetables high in niacin and or supplementation improves brain function for managing stress.
Niacin is part of the vitamin B complex, along with other B vitamins, including vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) to B12. Vitamin B3, comes in three forms: nicotinic acid, niacinamide and inositol hexaniacinate. Vitamin B3, niacin has been studied extensively and has been shown to aid in treating many commonly occurring health problems. Niacin is beneficial to producing cholesterol (the brain is 20% cholesterol) and regulating blood sugar levels. It supports heart function and blood flow.
Niacin is also beneficial for an disease called pellagra, a condition that is most often seen in poverty-stricken areas and in those with eating disorders or alcoholism resulting from a deficiency of B3.
The core of good health begins with your cells. Each cell generates ATP, the energy source from the mitochondria that needs niacin to produce energy. If insufficient, it can start a toxic process of mitochondrial decay, reducing the ability of the cells to discard dangerous free radicals. Mitochondrial decay plays a role in Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and dementia.
Antioxidants are the solution that kills free radicals and revives energy to the cell.
Free radicals are rogue molecules that cause damage to a cell membrane and DNA. They disrupt normal cell function and cause death to neurons.
Vitamins A ,C, and E, manganese, selenium and zinc make up antioxidants that are found in colourful vegetables and fruits. They are enormously beneficial to the immune system to counteract free radical damage. The body can produce its own antioxidants (endogenous antioxidants) from Superoxide dismutase (SOD) Coenzyme Q10 and glutathione. Although we can make these molecules ourselves their synthesis depends on availability of other nutrients in the diet. Another fine balance. So eating more colourful vegetables and fruits increases your chances of improving your brain health.
Foods with Niacin are:
- Chicken — 1 cup: 19.2 milligrams (96 percent DV)
- Liver — 1 slice: 11.9 milligrams (60 percent DV)
- Tuna — 3 ounces: 11.3 milligrams (56 percent DV)
- Turkey — 1 cup: 9.6 milligrams (48 percent DV)
- Salmon — 3 ounces: 6.8 milligrams (34 percent DV)
- Sardines— 1 can: 4.8 milligrams (24 percent DV)
- Grass-Fed Beef — 3 ounces: 4.4 milligrams (22 percent DV)
- Sunflower Seeds —1 cup: 3.8 milligrams (19 percent DV)
- Peanuts — 1 ounce: 3.8 milligrams (19 percent DV)
- Green Peas — 1 cup: 3.2 milligrams (16 percent DV)
- Brown Rice— 1 cup, cooked: 3 milligrams (15 percent DV)
- Mushrooms — 1 cup: 2.5 milligrams (13 percent DV)
- Avocado — 1 cup, cubed: 2.6 milligrams (13 percent DV)
- Sweet Potatoes — 1 medium: 1.7 milligrams (8 percent DV)
- Asparagus— 1 cup: 1.3 milligrams (7 percent DV)
When taking it watch out for the reaction of skin flushing when taking a niacin supplement. Take it with food niacin to avoid the flush!
There is a time release supplement but cause stress on the liver. Read the labels too.
Increase your vegetables and fruits intake to ten times versus 5 to 7 times to get the true vitamins and minerals value you deserve to live well. It’s easy to do once you start adding it into your daily meals and habits.
PRACTICE TOGETHER has changed to Tuesdays at 5 pm. Begin November 1st.They are free drop in sessions open to everyone who would like to practice meditation and movement in a community. A regular meditation practice shared with people enhances the brain’s neural networks “neurons wired together, fire together” promoting positive habits and reducing stress.
HEAL TO HEALTH: A MINDUL PRACTICE FOR COPING WITH STRESS. This eight-week program begins Thursday, November 3rd at 5pm
The next FEED THE BRAIN: A mindful eating approach for nourishing the body, heart and mind begins January 21 to Mar 11, 2023. Are you tired of counting calories, being on a diet or uncomfortable with your relationship with food, discover how Feed the Brain investigates weight loss and maintenance for the long term.
I hope you enjoy this information. always interested in your feedback. Pass on the program offers to friends and family.
In good health,