“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”  ~Mark Twain

 

Having been a psychotherapist and now a life and career coach for about 40 years, I am a believer in the power of the mind /body connection. To have the life you want, you need to fuel your body and brain and take care of your body and brain!

Intellectually, I know that what I eat effects how I feel and think. But recently I got to really experience the effects of a low fiber, no raw food diet contrasted with my normal diet. My typical diet includes raw juices, smoothies, whole grains, beets, leafy green vegetables, especially daily servings of KALE! For the past 2 weeks due to prepping for a routine medical test I was unable to eat my normal diet of brain fueling foods.

At first I felt ok. By the end on the 2nd week, I pretty much stopped feeling like myself. I felt stressed and agitated by small problems, which suddenly felt like huge problems. Can you say “Overreaction”?  I did not feel so much like my engaged, optimistic self! I decided to do some research to determine if this feeling was based on the lack of specific foods I had been eating regularly and now had to do without.

Proper brain function is an integral part of good quality of life. It effects everything we do and are able to do. You can’t build a house on a shaky foundation; well you can, but we all know what will happen eventually! There is no way we can be our best if we are living without proper fuel. That’s what food is- fuel. If you put the wrong gas in a car or mower or chainsaw, it seizes up or just plain doesn’t work. In addition if we run out of fuel, we begin to drag our wagon and feel down and listless. So, is kale the super brain food I think it is???

Kale is a leafy green loaded with antioxidants for sustained brain health, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The American Academy of Neurology declares leafy greens one of the best foods for brain health. The naturally-occurring antioxidants in kale, such as vitamins A, C and E and selenium, are integral for brain wellness.

How does kale do this? What has kale got that makes it so special?  It starts with the power of phytonutrients, molecules in plants that apparently do amazing things. One called sulforaphane travels from your kale smoothie to your liver where it amps up your body’s natural detox power. Another called kaempferol is truly the fountain of youth – who knew???? —this phytonutrient turns on the genes that promote longer life. Add to this mix carotenoids, which Harvard University just linked to one’s overall sense of optimism, and glucosinolates, a known cancer fighter, and it is clear that kale is a super good food! I guess missing my daily kale caused me to feel less happy and optimistic. Holy Cow!  I knew kale was good for me but never realized how good.

In addition, brain health depends on picking the right fats in your diet, as the brain is about 60% fat. Guess what; one vital set of fats most of us need more of is the omega-3s, which happen to be the main kind of fat in kale! The plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid is linked to numerous health benefits like lowering the risk of depression and diabetes.

Well I guess I found my answer to the question if my recent change in diet could affect my brain so much! The diet we eat consistently really does have a profound effect on how our brains function. My experience has motivated me to improve my diet even more!

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