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Home > Newsletters > June 2007 > Food For Thought

Food For Thought

By Jessica Chen, L.Ac.

What do we feed our most complex yet delicate organ? Everything! Well, almost everything.

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.

Salmon

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.

Walnuts

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.

Blueberries

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 damage.

Eggs

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.

Dark Leafy Greens

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 brain.

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June 2007
Volume 5, Number 6

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