In previous posts I have talked about Brain Wellness and promised that I would post some more about the things you could do to have your best brain. This is especially important when it comes to the issues that people come to psychotherapy for, like focus, procrastination, confidence, anxiety, depression, self-esteem and relationships. It’s also important to help keep away Alzheimers and other dementias.
There are many factors that contribute to brain health. One part is genetics. We talked a little bit about that in my post about MTHFR. But the genetic code isn’t destiny. The field of epigenetics tells us that what we do and what happens to us influences how our genes operate.
One central influence on how our brains work is the food we eat. In the 1940s there was a book called “You Are What You Eat.” The idea has been around a long time, but many of us still have a hard time believing it. But when you think about it, it becomes obvious how true this is.
The body has a process we call metabolism. We eat food that has the basic chemical components that we need to live – to make energy and have our bodies work the way they are supposed to. But we can’t use these proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals in the form that they are in when we eat them. They need to be broken down through digestion and other processes, and then changed into forms that our body can use.
If our body doesn’t get enough of these raw materials, or if these raw materials are poor quality, then the body doesn’t have what it needs to work right. If you don’t put good fuel in your car, it’s not going to be able to run, and your car is far simpler than the human body. Your car doesn’t need to synthesize, or make, neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin to keep you focused and calm.
As that old phrase from computer coding puts it, “garbage in, garbage out.”
So, it really does matter what we eat. All too many of us are obsessed with how we look, and whether we’ve put on some pounds. But that excess of fat is just a signpost that what we are putting into our body isn’t the stuff we need to make energy, muscles, good functioning, and happy brains, but rather is just the stuff to add inches to our bellies or thighs. It’s a sign that we are not giving ourselves the optimal fuel to have the best working bodies and brains. It turns out, by the way, that people who are obese have brains that are 8% smaller than average.
So, one small change that you can make to have the best brain is to shift your thinking about food as simply a source of pleasure in an otherwise boring life, or just as an unconscious habit (I’ll always eat this way because I’ve always eaten this way) and to start thinking about food as your main way of controlling your health and wellbeing. If you eat the right stuff, you will be happier, more energetic, more sexual, more productive, more confident, not only because you know that you are doing something loving for yourself, but because the stuff you are putting in your body is actually making you happier, more energetic, etc.!
And, believe it or not, the best food for your body can also be really delicious.
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