Guest Contributor and Article By: Chris Tauriello, C.H.N.
Beating the blues and remaining at the top of your game is of the utmost importance. Here are some tips to staying healthy throughout the year, and your life.
Here are 5 Essential Brain Booster Tips to Improve your Mental Health
1. Blood Glucose. A disorder of blood glucose is referred to as dysglycemia, and can either be high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Dysglycemia is the number one problem related to mental health issues. Eating a diet consisting predominately of low to moderate glycemic index foods is your best defence against blood sugar instability. An example of low glycemic index foods are vegetables, most fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and animal products. Foods to stay away from are dates, white flour and sugar and their products, breakfast cereals and fruit juices. Another tip to ensure stable blood sugars is to pair any offenders with satiating nutrient-dense foods such as protein foods like eggs or nuts; fiber-rich foods like beans, legumes and pulses; and essential fatty acid- rich foods like nut butters, seeds and seed oils. And remember to always stay hydrated with fresh, clean water.
2. Essential Fatty Acids. We’ve talked a bit about Essential fats already, but what are they? Well, they are what they’re named after – Essential. We cannot manufacture these fats in our bodies (unlike other fats derived from these beneficial nutrients) but they must be obtained through dietary sources. Essential fatty acids, or EFA’s, stimulate metabolism, increase metabolic rate and oxidation, they also burn excess fat and help you to lose weight and stay slim. There are a few different types of fats so we’re going to go over which ones are beneficial and which ones to stay away from. The good fats: fats deemed healthy come from a family of polyunsaturated fats known widely as omega-3. More technically, there are two omega’s from which a healthy body can manufacture all the other fats. These are called LA or linoleic acid, and ALA or alpha linolenic acid. Sources of these fats include: borage oil, Evening Primrose Oil; flax, hemp and chia seeds and their oils, respectively. Poor choices of fats, which have been linked to cancer due to the carcinogenic quality of their processing include trans- and hydrogenated fats. These are mainly found in poor quality oils, fried foods, and margarines and other long-shelf life fat products, such as commercial peanut butter. It is best to stay away from these foods as they contribute to clogged arteries and displace other, more essential fatty acids in our cells.
3. Phospholipids. These fat-derived molecules form the structures of each cell in the body, so their importance is obvious. Some of the better sources of this nutrient is found in free-range, organic, omega-3 rich eggs and organic, non-GMO soy. Both of these sources contain lecithin, which helps the body digest fat and keeps cholesterol soluble. Other plant-based sources include flax and hemp seeds and their oils. Phospholipids enhance your mood, mind and mental performance, they also protect against age-related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Amino Acids/Proteins. Proteins not only stabilize blood sugars but they are the building blocks of all life. These building blocks are better known as amino acids, which are the broken down version of proteins which we ingest. Amino acids help form DNA, and enzymes needed to digest the foods we eat, as well as neurotransmitters, which make us happy, regulate sleep and waking cycles, and so on. There are 23 amino acids in total, but only 8 of which are essential, meaning that we must obtain them in the diet, as the rest of them can be made from these 8. The best sources of protein are animal sources, but these contain other non-nutrients which make them harmful, so the healthiest choices come from plants. Sources of plant-based proteins include quinoa, nuts and seeds, and the combination of beans or lentils and brown rice which complement each other to form all the necessary amino acids. Other sources include broccoli and dark leafy greens, which can contain up to 50% of their calories from protein. If animal sources of protein are desired, it is best to eat organic as much as possible.
5. Vitamins and Minerals. The main nutrients needed to perform at peak levels, and keep mental health issues at bay, are the b-complex, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium, manganese and zinc. Eating 5 – 9 servings of fresh vegetables (most notably dark leafy greens) and fruit each day is a good start to getting all these nutrients. Eating whole foods: nuts and seeds, whole grains, pulses and legumes are also beneficial as they are packed full of nutrients. Otherwise, you may need to supplement!
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