By Jessica Chen, L.Ac.
What do we feed our most complex yet delicate organ? Everything! Well,
According to recent studies, a brain healthy diet consists of foods that
increase blood flow and are low in cholesterol, and high in
antioxidants. Such a mix is not only beneficial to the brain but also to
the heart, the aging process and diseases conditions such as diabetes.
Providing good nutrition for our brain is a must. As we move towards our
golden years we realize that our minds just do not work the way they use
to. Progressive aging of our brain can trigger symptoms of dementia,
which can lead to diseases like Alzheimers. According to the National
Health Institute (NIH) 4.5 million Americans suffer from this disease.
Free radicals have been identified as a major cause of the loss of
cognitive function associated with aging. Our brains are bombarded daily
with free radicals from polluted air, unhealthy food, and lifestyle.
They cause a low-grade inflammation, which damages normal cell structure
and function. Thankfully, through an increase in scientific research, we
now know the importance of good nutrition for brain health. So why not
help ourselves in slowing down the aging of our brain by nourishing it
with the right “brain foods”. We can then cruise through our golden
years clearly and keenly.
The heart or cardiovascular system is a complex organ that plays a major
role in nourishing and maintaining the blood flow throughout the whole
body including the brain. In order to provide the brain with nutrients,
the blood flow must be smooth and blood vessels must be clear of any
obstructions such as from a plaque build up.
Our brain consists of 60 percent fats. Deep seawater fish such as salmon
are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids helps to reduce inflammation and promote
good circulation thus supporting nerve cell activity in the brain.
Chinese Medicine believes that herbs and foods that resemble certain
body parts are actually beneficial to that particular body part. So it
is not surprising that walnuts which is packed with vitamin E and
antioxidants also resembles a brain. Walnuts are also the only nuts that
contain a significant amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods that are small and compact in size tend to have an abundance of
Qi, so the smaller the food, the better the Qi. It is no wonder that out
of 50 fruits and vegetables blueberries contain the highest antioxidant
properties. The phytonutrient rich anthocyanidins found in the blue-red
pigments of blueberries protect the brain by neutralizing free radical
Eggs represent birth of life. They are full of energy. Therefore they
are a great help in strengthening the Kidneys and hormones. The choline
compound together with the sweet and lubricating properties of eggs act
to nourish and lubricate the brain cells. A yoke contains 315 micrograms
of nourishing choline, which plays a key role in synthesizing and
transporting the fats which are essential to brain health and function.
Full of vitamins and minerals, leafy greens are just plain good for you.
Dark leafy greens are especially rich in folate, which helps the body
break down homesteine, an amino acid that is toxic to nerve cells. The
dark greens also contain an abundance of iron, which helps to build
heart blood which goes to provide oxygen and nourishes the cells of the
brain. Generally vegetables have cooling and cleansing properties. They
help the brain discard unwanted substances such as bad fats and debris
that accumulate in the brain thus helping you focus.
Foods to Avoid
Foods high in cholesterol and trans fats should be avoided as they
degrade and block the blood vessels thereby reducing blood flow to the