How to Optimize Nutrition for Body and Mind
Everyone has heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” This very simple saying means more and more each day as we understand how foods affect us.
- The food you put into your body affects your physical appearance, energy levels, bodily processes, and how well your brain functions.
Your brain is a system of chemical connections firing off at each other so fast that it’s almost impossible to fathom. The food you eat affects your brain’s chemical makeup, altering how it acts and works.
Feelings and emotions also affect your brain. Feelings are born in the brain, and, depending on the emotion, they can alter the brain chemistry. For example, some people with mental health issues do not produce certain chemicals in their brains, which radically change their behavior patterns.
There are things you can do to regulate this chemical reaction daily, and it’s simpler than you may think! Eating certain foods can specifically affect the body’s various functions, the chemicals in your brain, and your emotions.
Here are some healthy foods you can eat to help optimize both your body and mind:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Eating foods high in Omega-3s has many health benefits, including improving your brain’s development and functions. The Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, is an essential polyunsaturated fat found in the brain.
- Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 Fatty acids, including DHA.
- Choline. Choline is a chemical building block of every cell in your body. Choline has also been shown to help with retaining information in your memory. The more choline your lifetime diet includes, the less likely you’ll be to face extreme memory loss as you grow older.
- Egg yolks have a high concentration of choline in them. They are an easy food to eat to optimize nutrition.
- Antioxidants. We all recognize the health benefits of antioxidants in fighting diseases, but did you know a cup of hot cocoa has a higher concentration of antioxidants in it than either red wine or green tea? It’s true – as long as you use dark chocolate.
- Serve a cup of rich dark hot cocoa after dinner, and know you’re taking good care of your health!
Eat Good! Feel Good!
- Green Tea. Have a glass of green tea every day to help keep your brain’s cognitive functions in tiptop shape.Studies have shown 70% of people who drank green tea showed an improvement in the brain’s functions.
- Cranberry Juice. This beverage is not only good for your body, specifically kidney and urinary functions, but it can also help prevent a stroke. Cranberry juice has also been shown to help reduce brain cell damage after a stroke.
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, protein, and some fat is the best way to nourish both the body and mind. Our bodies are highly complicated machines requiring many different things to function correctly, and what we eat determines how it performs.
By taking simple steps to optimize your nutrition, you’ll also optimize your mind and body. Start making healthy, nutritious food choices today and enjoy looking, feeling, and thinking better.
Foods to Optimize Nutrition
Eat vitamin and mineral-rich foods.
Citrus foods, rich in vitamin C.
Rosehip tea, even more abundant in vitamin C than citrus fruits.
Zinc-rich foods, like pumpkin seeds, some meats, and legumes.
Eat food like leeks, shallots, garlic, and onions; these are rich in sulfur compounds, which can have helpful antiviral actions.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Add fresh herbs and mushrooms to your cooking.
Now is a great time to look into cleaner eating for the whole family.
If your family is running low on supplies or has an odd assortment of supplies, look up Depression-Era recipes for some tips and ideas.
Here is a list of regional food banks. https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank
Herbs to Optimize Nutrition and Health
The following are helpful herbs to have on hand for this whole pandemic situation. They are supportive of the variety of issues that occur during “shelter in place” scenarios. These herbs are not going to be hard to find for most; they will be potentially found at local markets in one form or another. I will also list herbs that can be found in most grocery store tea sections.
Oats work to nourish our nervous systems. They are also rich in minerals and some vitamins. Oats can help with stress, anxiety, and constipation. You can use the milk tops, oatmeal, or the oat straw; using what you have on hand is a great option. You can purchase the milky tops or use oatmeal. Keep it simple and easy for yourself. You can even use oatmeal from the grocery store; try to get the best quality you can for your budget. Oats are excellent for topical issues like chickenpox, eczema, nervous system issues, restlessness and feelings of fidgetiness, or nervous/anxious movements. Kids can eat oats or take in tea form, and it can be used in a bath, as a wash or compress. It is versatile and easy to find.
This tea can usually be found in a few varieties, with rose petals, for example. This can help with stress levels. Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint, and exposure to cold and excessive noise. Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress by normalizing blood glucose, blood pressure, and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties. (Cohen, Marc Maurice. “Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 5,4 (2014): 251-9. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554)
Dandelion, if you don’t have the leaves fresh in your yard, many supermarkets carry them fresh or frozen. Dandelion is a rich source of nutrients. The leaves and roots contain Vitamins (like A, C, K, and B-vitamins) and minerals (including magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, and choline).
Lemon Balm can be used as an infusion; it is a potent antiviral and found fresh at many markets. Lemon balm is exceptionally suitable for children. The herb has antiviral properties, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, strengthening the neurological system, reducing pain, helping with digestive issues, and assisting with sleep issues. Lemon Balm is what is known as gentle power. It is a powerful herb but also one of the gentlest. Kids love the way it tastes and smells, and it blends well with the first two herbs. This is an excellent herb for kids for so many reasons.
Studies have found reishi works to regulate the immune system, calming an overstimulated immune response while improving lessened immune function. It can elicit a sense of well-being and lessen anxiety.
This tea is rich in antioxidants. One of the richest sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates white blood cells called lymphocytes, which protect the body against infection. Vitamin C has also been found to enhance lymphocytes’ function and help the skin maintain its protective barrier against pathogens.
Rich in vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. Has positive effects on blood pressure and stress.
You can find this fresh at many supermarkets. Parsley has diuretic, carminative, antipyretic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. You can eat fresh, add to salads and smoothies, added to cooked foods, or taken as a tea.
Stinging Nettle or Nettles (Urtica Dioica)
Nettles can be eaten in foods, used in teas, syrups, and rich in iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, boron, strontium. They also contain vitamins – A, C, K, and B vitamins. Nettles have many nutritional benefits. Still, it can also work to fortify when a child is starting to get a cold or flu, has stressed adrenals, PMS issues, wanting clearer skin, has seasonal allergies, or suffering from diarrhea.
Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)
This herb is rich in many mineral contents such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and alpha-hydroxy acid and packed with antioxidants. This herb is fantastic for children who stress out or can’t seem to hold up to stressors. This tea tastes lovely, can be used to flavor blends, and for children can aid in headaches, sleep issues, colic, and anxiety linked with stress.
Want to become a Herbalist or Aromatherapist? Visit www.heartofherbs.com
Disclaimer: For educational use only. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. Students articles reflect the views of the student and not necessarily Heart of Herbs Herbal School. Educational programs are available at www.heartofherbs.com, and you can find all of Demetria Clark’s books at Amazon.
The information offered on Heart of Herb Herbal School websites, articles, and blogs is for educational purposes only. Heart of Herb Herbal School makes neither medical claim, psychological claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Heart of Herbs Herbal School neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content; we are currently not part of any affiliate programs. Readers must do their research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements; as a result, this is your responsibility as a consumer.