15 Jul 9 Steps to a Modern Brain – Step 2: Feed Your Cells
Posted at 08:38h in Brain Health, Food, Functional Medicine, Functional Neurology, Nutrition, Supplements
9 Steps to a Modern Brain – Step 2: Feed Your Cells
In this article, we’re going to continue our exploration of the 9 Steps to a Modern Brain. This second step– Feed Your Cells is one of the most important and foundational steps in this whole process. You’re going to learn which foods and nutrients to eat AND which to avoid for optimal brain health. By doing so, you’ll experience higher energy levels, better moods and sharper focus and concentration.
Your brain is made up of trillions of different cells. And the health of your cells determines the overall health of your brain. What determines the overall health and wellbeing of your brain cells? Three major things:
Fuel in the form of glucose, oxygen and ketones. Activation of specific neurological pathways as discussed in my last article. And a clean extracellular environment.
How to Feed Your Cells
How can we best feed our cells? Eat real foods, decrease inflammation, balance blood sugar, and take brain healthy supplements.
Eat Real Foods
Your brain– just like your body thrives on real foods. The less processed the better. The major building blocks to a healthy brain come from fats, proteins and carbs. Examples of good fats are coconut oil, olive oil, fish oils and avocado. Good sources of protein are grass fed beef, fish, and eggs. Ideal carb options are blueberries, blackberries, apples, celery, cucumbers and arugula– the lower the glycemic index the better. Avoid brain toxins such as high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, aspartame, trans fats and artificial food coloring.
In our practice in Northern California, we see patients with chronic neurological and autoimmune conditions on a daily basis. We get great results because instead of focusing on their symptoms, we address the root cause/s for their symptoms. One of the most important root causes is low-levels of chronic inflammation. And one of the most common causes for inflammation is undiagnosed food sensitivities. I’ve seen peoples lives completely change for the better just by avoiding certain foods that trigger an inflammatory response in their brains and bodies. Everyone is unique in what triggers inflammation in them but here’s a list of the most common offenders:
Wheat, rye, barley – found in things such as pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, cereals
Corn – found in a lot of processed foods
Soy – common permutations are tofu, soy milk, seitan
Dairy – milk, butter, cream, ice cream, sour cream, cheese, salad dressings
You can also run specific lab tests to find out what foods you might be reacting to. I usually order these for my patients to help tease out their specific triggers after they’ve tried removing the above from their diet but are still experiencing brain fog, fatigue or headaches.
Balance Blood Sugar
The brain relies on glucose for fuel. When my patients hear this, they get really excited and say “Awesome! I’m gonna go out and get some doughnuts then!”. But the reality is, too much sugar in a person’s diet is extremely detrimental to the health of a person’s brain. In addition to being linked to devastating conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Diabetes and ADHD, diets high in sugar also create a roller coaster of energy, focus and mood. One minute you’re alert and awake and then the next you’re sleepy and looking for a place to take a nap. So one of the best ways to care for your brain cells is by balancing blood sugar and one of the best ways to do that is to DECREASE the amount of both processed and unprocessed sugars in your diet– and to up the amounts of real foods that we talked about above.
Brain Healthy Supplements
The use of certain foundational supplements is not only helpful in maintaining optimal health but I consider them absolutely essential. Don’t get me wrong- in no way am I saying that you can eat a crappy diet and live a horrible lifestyle and that taking supplements will be able to completely offset that damage just as much as eating a crappy diet and living a horrible lifestyle and taking medications can. Because supplements are just that- they SUPPLEMENT everything else in your life- diet, lifestyle and mindset. With that being said, here’s a list of a few of the key nutrients/supplements you’ll want to add to your arsenal in order to Feed Your Cells:
Fish oils – with a higher dose of DHA than EPA
Liquid Vitamin D – also known as the “sunshine vitamin”
Medium chain triglycerides – found in high amounts in coconut oil/palm oil
Alpha lipoic acid – a powerful antioxidant that’s good for your brain and blood sugar levels
Polyphenols – the luscious, gorgeous compounds found in high levels in certain fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, broccoli, grapes
B-complex – absolutely essential to keep your brain running smoothly
And there you have it! The top foods and nutrients to eat and avoid to Feed Your Cells for optimal brain health. By Feeding Your Cells the right way, you’ll be making great strides towards maximizing the power of your brain and experiencing higher energy levels, better moods and sharper focus. Check back soon to learn about the 3rd step you can take to a Modern Brain!
To Your Total Health,
Dr. Titus Chiu