The role that foods we ingest play in our wellbeing is quite frankly, unparalleled.
I’ve previously touched on toxins in the foods we eat, with the expert help of Dr. Nancy Klimas. Another valuable behavior interlinked with toxins is sleep.
“The evidence that sleep is terribly important in getting rid of toxins from the brain has been added to the whole issue of brain health,” said John Farquhar, M.D. in “Training camp for your brain,” part of Stanford’s Health Improvement Program.
With a multitude of prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs at our disposal, Farquhar said, “Certainly [sleep] is a non-drug way of protecting our brain.”
The million-dollar question is: Am I getting enough sleep? “When in doubt, add an hour,” said Farquhar. That may be the most beneficial advice many of us have had recently.
With demanding work schedules, children, mealtimes, chores, and the nitty gritty of real life – I’d beg to say a significant number of people I know are sleep deprived.
I strive to get enough sleep. Even if there is more to do, wait, there’s always more to do. I close down my laptop. I put my phone on do not disturb. I wind down even if I’m the only one in the house winding down. It’s important for me and the ones I love to stay in good health, and that includes getting enough “zzz’s” at night.
For best health I always research if there are particular foods or food groups that should be included in our eating patterns. Based on research findings, Omega 3 fatty acids (i.e. the fat you want to consume) have several benefits. Expectant moms have presumably been told to incorporate these into their diet as it plays a significant role in visual and neurological developments in the fetus.
In addition to developmental benefits, Omega 3 fatty acids help with memory and studies say it may help with certain mood disorders.
The National Institute of Mental Health says “An estimated 21.4% of U.S. adults experience [a type of] mood disorder at some time in their lives.”
“Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for normal brain structure and function, but must be derived from the diet.” (“The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for behavior, cognition and mood,” A. Richardson, https://foodandnutritionresearch.net/index.php/fnr/article/view/186/186 )
The Cleveland Clinic, in “Omega-3 fatty acids, the power of fish,” explains that “Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of fat the body cannot make on its own. They are an essential fat, which means they are needed to survive.”
An interesting tidbit I learned is “The brain is composed of about 60 percent fat, and myelin, the protective sheath that covers communicating nerve and brain cells is about 70 percent fat.” (“Neuroscience of the Aging Brain: Perspectives on Brain Health and Lifestyle”).
Some Omega-3 foods include walnuts, avocados, olive oil, and fish. “By far the supreme source is fish.”
“Salmon has the most Omega-3 fatty acids and the least mercury.” (Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer, Michael Roizen, MD, “Food for Brain Health,” ClevelandClinic.org/brainhealth).
Walnuts “are also particularly rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid with cardioprotective properties (lowers blood pressure).” (Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer, Michael Roizen, MD, “Food for Brain Health,” ClevelandClinic.org/brainhealth).
Reaching my quota includes consistent consumption of salmon and tuna for meals. During the day, I reach for nuts, nut oils (yum – almond butter), and flaxseed on Greek yogurt. I also love baking homemade kale chips tossed in a heart-healthy oil.
Baked Omega-3 rich crispy kale chips
Wash, hand tear 6-7 large kale leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and parsley
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or bag, blend well
Line cookie sheet, preheat oven to 385 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes (turning half way through)
A satisfying, healthy movie night snack!
I find it encouraging when we can be open about our mental, emotional, and physical health with others. Let’s nourish our bodies with foods that aid our wellbeing, link arms and stride forward in a positive and proactive way!
Coming next: Knowledgeable RN helps migraine sufferers in hospital