Recently the lovely Ify (our resident Nutrition Therapist) kicked off the first of the 2020 WIYWO Workshops. She concentrated on how to use diet to optimise your brain power: your wellbeing, memory and mood. Below I have summarised the main points:
Ify’s Top 3 take outs from the workshop:
Increase your Veggie intake
Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
Take Multi-vitamins each day to ensure your levels of everything required are correct.
The key components of brain health were discussed – including: Nutrition, Gut health, Sleep and Stress reduction.
We are all told that a mix of carbs, fruit, veg, meat/fish and oils are important for our health but not necessarily in the quantity that you are consuming them in
Make up of your plate should be: ½ veggies, ¼ protein, ¼ carbs
Should I cut out carbs/sugar? It is more about trying to control your blood sugar levels so you have less peaks and troughs
Glucose index: 100, really high carbs: Rice cakes, white bread, white rice, baked potato (try to avoid)
How to balance – slow release sugars:
Look at quantity, you don’t need as many as you probably eat
Fruit and veg are still carbs but much slower release and lower sugar levels
Limit fruit to circa 2 pieces
Veggies – at least 5 per day
Snacking - Try raw nuts – will keep your blood sugars more level.
Fat: There is a bit of a fat phobia in society, but we really need it in our diet. Our brain is 60% fat. If you add fats to veggies it will help absorb the nutrients better
Good fats – fish oils (omega 3 and 6), coconut oils, nut fats, avocado, olive oil
Protein: Protein rich foods – meat, fish, nuts and seeds
Smoothies: dangerous if have too much fruit in them. Try making them milk/yoghurt based, 2 x veg to 1 x fruit proportion
Nutrition gap: The difference between the nutrients we are ingesting from an average Western diet, and optimum levels deemed necessary for health. It is an underlying cause of many of todays chronic degenerative diseases
Why is this happening? - modern farming methods, food processing, lifestyle factors (eg. smoking, alcohol, medications, stress levels)
Vitamin D – good for bones. It also has Anti-depressant properties - if your Vit D is too low then can affect our mental health.
There is a direct link between your gut and your brain. They are constantly talking to each other.
To optimise your gut function, the suggestion is to eat more veggies (ideally green ones), include some fermented foods in your diet (eg. Sauerkraut), eat foods low in natural and refined sugar and if possible avoid taking antibiotics as this upsets your gut health.
As you are probably aware, correct levels of sleep are absolutely vital to the health of our brains and for our wellbeing
You should be aiming for circa 7-8 hours per night and try to remain as consistent as possible
Melatonin is the hormone that gets released in the evening when it gets dark, to tell our bodies that it is time to relax and sleep
Serotonin is the hormone that gets released when it is time to wake up and is created from the blue light of the sun but also get released from electronic devises
If you use your electronic devise (including your TV) too late in the evening you are not going to produce melatonin that will help you sleep
Your Liver regenerates between 11pm and 3am – if you don’t get enough sleep then you are not giving this organ a chance to cleanse the system.
Stress switches off your repair mechanisms, sends energy towards muscles (cortisol, stress hormone) and effectively forces you into ‘fight or flight’ mode
Constant stress can affect your thyroid, can cause brain shrinkage and depletes your adrenal glands.
When your cortisol levels are really high then you will struggle to affectively lose weight
How to manage effectively?
This is a workshop in its own right but an extremely effective way to manage immediate stress is to try a breathing technique.
One suggested was the ‘Square’ methodology – breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 and breathe out for 4, hold for 4.
The above will hopefully provide some knowledge and guidance but if you do want any further detail then just get in contact with us (firstname.lastname@example.org)