It is easy to think the foods in your diet don't matter THAT much... especially if you're exercising, sleeping, meditating, and checking off other healthy actions.
But to upgrade & optimize brain function, certain foods and nutrients need to be in your nutrition plan.
So here are 5 of my favorite foods to improve cognitive function, performance, & productivity: (Plus, I share my favorite way to incorporate them all simultaneously. Make sure to check it out below.)
1. Avocados naturally stimulate a consistent blood flow around the heart and through the brain, which is the secret to productivity. They're also loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps decrease hunger pangs.
2. Antioxidant-rich foods, like berries, are excellent for increasing memory, and to prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in the future. General rule of thumb: the darker the berry ⇒ the higher antioxidant property ⇒ more brain power ingredients. I also use a stellar supplement to stimulate my primary antioxidants and you can message me for that.
3. Water may not be “food,” but since we’re made up of more than 70 percent water, every function depends on water to work smoothly. Water stores slowly deplete throughout the day so if you don't drink enough to replenish it, your brain and productivity suffer. Drinking ½ your body weight in ounces every day can give your brain the power it needs to be more focused, think more clearly and quickly. If you live in desert climate like I do, you will want to consider an form of hydration called bone broth or soups. Your body is just like a big bag of broth with bones and a complex cellular make-up. So when you want to get super hydrated, adding water to the broth can actually dilute it. Feel free to message me if you have further questions especially those of you who may keep to a lower sodium diet.
4. Beets contain high concentration of nitrates which are naturally-occurring compounds that increase blood flow especially to the brain. A study in Nitric Oxide found that a high-nitrate diet rich in beetroot juice increased blood flow to regions of the brain responsible for attention and self-regulation. I am known for making my homeade beet kvass, which is a fermentation process that increases the nitri oxide even more. It is a wonderful social drink as it looks identical to red wine. Let me know if you need the recipe or check it out in the probiotic / store section of my website. www.wisdomandwellness.us
5. Broccoli is rich in choline, an essential nutrient with powerful benefits in cognitive performance, brain development and memory function. It also has great fiber content and tons of important vitamins and minerals.
BONUS: Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao, above 80% is even better!). It's a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to enhance learning and memory in animal studies, and stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, which heighten your mood. (Also has small amount of caffeine.) Use it in small doses to improve your focus; don’t eat huge amounts everyday.
The nutrition strategy (ie "brain health-hack") I use EVERYDAY to incorporate foods like these into my life is with snacks and smoothies!! I love using smoothies as snacks, but I also like other healthy snacks too.
If you’re like me, healthy snacks are a critical part of our diet. So choosing brain healthy options is essential for my performance and productivity.
Here's the thing though... I don't like thinking too much about new recipes so I rely on cookbooks. And one I've been using a lot lately is Dr. Nandi's eCookbook with 77 Smoothies & Snacks.
Not only is Dr. Nandi a full time, practicing gastroenterologist and internal medicine physician.
Have you noticed yourself being just a little bit bitely lately? Is the dog running away from you or the cat not as cuddly? Might your huband or your children be gaining weight, having skin problems or just not feeling like engaging in activities? If you are answering no to these questions, you may not be in touch with your surroundings or perhaps you don't have a dog or a cat!
Dealing with Covid out here in Phoenix, Arizona is admittedly getting difficult. We have been quarantining since early March and our numbers are supposedly some of the highest in the country for the coronavirus presently. Additionally, some of us have been sick and the rest of us are trying not to get sick. We are all unable to relax as we navigate through our new norm.
In order to further understand what our brain is going through right now, I find it interesting to understand how our brain processes information on a daily basis. Did you know that the conscious mind is only able to process about 10% of our thoughts at a time? This leaves the other 90% of our thoughts to be processed in our subconscious mind. When the amount of thoughts needing to be processed is increased, this leaves alot of unconscious processing for the brain.
Have you ever tried to make a decision when you have alot on your mind? If you have ever moved, lost a loved one or started a new job, these are times when you have alot on your mind. This may not be the best time to be making other important lifetime decisions until you have been able to best process the daily decisions and get in to a routine.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we are being forced to think out of the box. If I had a nickel for every time a patient discussed anxiety with me since March 2020, I would be a wealthy nurse practitioner. In my primary care practice, we have developed a stress management program that is helping to address anxiety without chemicals and by also developing a deeper sense of community. This program is called Yoga Nidra. Truth be told, before the pandemic, I had never heard of this. Fortunately for social media, I learned that this type of "stillness practice" has been helping people with active minds to relax and restore.
In our practice, individual providers talk with individual patients and make recommendations for consideration as well as provide the education that a patient needs in order to participate. The Yoga Nidra facilitator and the provider join together with a group of patients on a weekly zoom call. Through guided words and self recognition, patients participate in this non-movement activity to develope calmness, more rested sleep, a more interactive presence rather than a reactive presence and a sense of relaxation. Sometimes this feeling lasts for a few weeks and other times it lasts for only a few days. Our experience has shown, that the more consistent the participation, the more lasting are the results. In other words, those who intitially engaged in the program weekly for 3 weeks, had stronger results than those who only participated once or twice.
If you or a loved one are recognizing difficulty in relaxing and this is not a comfortable feeling for you, consider the power of Yoga Nidra. Consider helping your brain sort through and process our new norm by using this ancient practice instead of pharmaceuticals. There is a free app called "Insight Timer," that is a good place to start. Simply download on your phone and decide how often your body appreciates getting relaxed.
This article was written by guest writer June Duncan.
If you are a caregiver to a senior loved one, there may come a time when you can no longer meet their needs on your own. This is a sign that’s time to make some long-term care decisions. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic will complicate things to some degree. Will your loved one be safe in assisted living? Will they still be able to age-in-place if they can’t leave the house? Is it okay to have nurses visit their home during the pandemic? Keep reading to find answers to your pressing questions and ensure your loved one gets the care they need for many years to come.
Moving to Assisted Living
Moving to assisted living is one option for seniors who need a little help with the activities of daily living. In an assisted living facility, your loved one will receive support with everything from eating to bathing. Not only that, but assisted living facilities offer excellent socialization and recreational opportunities for seniors who have become socially isolated or homebound due to age-related decline. Just make sure the assisted living facility you choose is following the CDC-recommended guidelines to keep residents safe and healthy during the pandemic.
Of course, moving a loved one to assisted living is not an easy decision. Besides coping with the emotional toll involved in this move, you’ll also have to figure out the financial details. A room or apartment in an assisted living facility can be very expensive! Find out whether or not your loved one’s existing insurance will cover any of the costs. Keep in mind that Medicare only pays for short-term skilled nursing care, not long-term stays in assisted living, so you will not be able to rely on your loved one’s health insurance for funding.
It’s common for seniors to pay for assisted living by selling their home. This could be a viable option for your loved one as well! To find out whether or not this would be a good decision, start by researching your local real estate market and evaluating the home prices in your area. Homes in Scottsdale, for example, have sold for an average of $545K over the last month. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic may have affected your local market, so it’s a good idea to speak to an experienced real estate agent who can help you make the best decision.
Assisted living isn’t your only option. Your loved one may also be able to thrive while remaining in their own home. Companions for Seniors explains that aging-in-place has several benefits for seniors, including greater independence, comfort, and cost savings. If your loved one’s home isn’t ideal for aging-in-place, help them downsize into an accessible condo or apartment. Alternatively, you may be able to modify your loved one’s home with accessibility upgrades to make their daily life easier.
Staying healthy is key to aging-in-place successfully, so make sure your loved one has everything they need to maintain their health. If they don’t feel comfortable leaving the house during the pandemic, organize errand services to help them with things like grocery shopping and prescription refills. If you want to ensure that your senior loved one’s health is on the right track, you can contact Wisdom and Wellness for micronutrient testing and wellness care.
Hiring In-Home Care
If your loved one needs care help, hiring in-home care could help you avoid the cost of assisted living. But with social distancing recommendations in place, receiving in-home care has become challenging. In-home care requires close contact, especially during intimate activities like bathing and feeding, and family members are concerned about their senior loved ones getting sick. Check that the caregivers you hire are taking extra safety precautions to keep your senior loved one safe, including self-monitoring their health and implementing additional cleaning practices.
Managing a role as a family caregiver can be overwhelming, especially when a global pandemic threatens the health of our vulnerable loved ones. If the pandemic prompts you to make some long-term care decisions for your loved one, think through your decision carefully. Weighing the pros and cons of each option—and considering the coronavirus risks involved—will help you make the best possible decision for your loved one.