Eating for gut and brain health

Last month we talked about and did a 10 day detox/cleanse to help clear out the digestive tract and support our detoxification organs like the liver and the kidneys.  Maintaining a healthy gut in normal times is always important, and it is especially important after a detox/cleanse. A healthy gut needs to be nurtured with whole foods (they are the easiest for the body to absorb and utilize) that contain all their vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

The digestive system feeds the entire body, and our brain prioritizes where that nutrition goes. So whatever your brain feels is not necessary (mobile joints, brainpower/cognition, sexuality…) will suffer from lack of nutrition and will become symptomatic. Symptoms of poor digestion are diverse : Sluggishness, fatigue, aches, “aging” sensations, swelling throughout the body, brain fog, gas and cramping, etc…

In the USA, poor nutrition is not caused by undernourishment but results from overeating, eating foods that are not real foods, and ingesting toxic chemicals. (read July’s blog for more info)  

Lots of things are necessary to keep us and our guts healthy like plenty of fiber, good probiotics, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, enzymes, and so much more.   Here are 8 of the best foods for your brain and your gut.

 

1.  Low-Fructose Fruits

If you’re somebody who’s prone to gas and bloating, you may need to reduce your consumption of fructose, or fruit sugar and fruits like apples, pears and mango that are all high in fructose.

Berries, like blueberries and raspberries, and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, contain less fructose, making them easier to tolerate and less likely to cause gas. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in blueberries have also been linked to improvements in learning, thinking and memory, along with reductions in neurodegenerative oxidative stress.  Bananas are another low-fructose fruit that are fiber-rich and contain inulin, a substance that stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

2.  Wild Salmon

Salmon is one of the most nutritious, brain-friendly foods out there! Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in your body. People with inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances and other digestive disorders often have inflammation in the gut.  The omega-3 fatty acids also help keep your brain running smoothly ­— goodbye, brain fog — and improves memory. If you have kids, feeding them salmon will give their brains and digestive systems the needed fats for building and growing. And these same fatty acids can also help prevent cancer and kill tumors — not bad for a four-ounce serving of fish!  Please note that these benefits are for Alaskan wild-caught salmon — farm-raised and regular wild-caught salmon can be filled with mercury and toxins so be careful of the quality of the fish you buy.

3.  Nuts and Seeds

Healthy Fats. You need fat as part of your diet, and eating nuts helps ensure that your fat intake comes from healthy unsaturated fat rather than harmful saturated fat found in meats and other animal products. Walnuts and flax seeds, in particular, boost your healthy fat intake because they contain alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. This type of fat helps maintain brain function, nourishes your red blood cells and helps fight excess inflammation.

Nuts and seeds also benefit your health by providing a source of dietary fiber. Fiber is a specialized type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It does not break down as it passes through your digestive tract, and the undigested fiber adds bulk to your stool to promote regular bowel movements while feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut along the way. Fiber also helps slow the rate of digestion so that sugar from your meal enters your bloodstream slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar that leaves you feeling energized after you eat.

4.  Avocado

Avocado is a superfood packed with fiber and essential nutrients, such as potassium, which helps promote healthy digestive function. It’s also a low-fructose food, so it’s less likely to cause gas.  This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of our all-time favorites. While avocados often get a bad rap because of their high fat content, it’s important to note that these green powerhouses are packed with mono-saturated fats, or the “good” kind, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your

skin glowing. Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration. They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit.  Avocados’ creamy texture makes them a smart addition to smoothies and a replacement for fats in baked goods.

5.  Broccoli

Broccoli is great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brain-power. Researchers have reported that because broccoli is high in compounds called glucosinolates, it can slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which we need for the central nervous system to perform properly and to keep our brains and our memories sharp. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer’s.

6.  Leafy Green Vegetables and B Vitamins

Certain B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of a compound called homocysteine in the blood.

Leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fiber, as well as nutrients like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A. Research shows that leafy greens also contain a specific type of sugar that helps fuel growth of healthy gut bacteria.

 Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

7.  Beets

It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers. That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat — I learned to love them while living in France. They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels. I love them roasted, boiled or shredded raw in salads.

8.  Sage

Sage is used for digestive problems, including loss of appetite, gas (flatulence), stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn. It is also used for reducing perspiration and saliva; and for depression, diabetes, high cholesterol.  It is also used to improve mental performance and memory, to reduce pain after surgery, and for Alzheimer’s disease. Sage contains compounds that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. Use this herb in dishes, as an herbal tea or by supplements.

Choosing the food we eat wisely is important to our health, our gut and our brain. Being educated on which foods are the best for you is key. We are here to help and support you in your journey to maximizing your gut and brain health.

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