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Keep Your Brain Sharp With Antioxidant Rich Foods

Complete neuron cell diagram. Neurons (also kn...

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Effective communication is key to all human relationships.  We value honesty and integrity as foundations in our lives.  Our physical bodies, as well, require effective communication for all of its systems to function optimally.

Especially important is the ability of our brains to communicate effectively with all our physical systems to orchestrate our living and being.  Without the right input, there is an incompatible output.

Our brain is made up of fatty tissue that thrives on plenty of glucose to operate.  Glucose derives from the breakdown of the foods and fluids we ingest.  Brain cells must be pliable in order for nutrients to enter into and wastes to exit out of cellular membranes that are made up of phospholipids – fats, one of which is cholesterol.   Communication occurs cell to cell though the activity of neurotransmitters from our central nervous system and also from immunotransmitters from our immune system.  These provide the electrical impulses conveying information on the status of the body.  They also enable connections from nerve cell to nerve cell for memory and recall.  Exposing ourselves to many sights, sounds, smells, and experiences provides “exercise” for our brain and nerve cells and keeps them functioning in healthy and sustaining ways.

The foods and liquids we ingest are very important for brain health.  Michael Murray, ND, in his book, Total Body Tune-up relates that the best strategy for our health is to provide ourselves with the nutrients it needs to protect our nerve cells from damage.  “You can boost your mental alertness, increase concentration, promote learning, enhance both short-term and long-term memory and keep your senses sharp” (241) by providing your body with high quality nutrition.

Because we are exposed to such high levels of toxins each day in our foods, water, and air quality, antioxidants are essential in providing protection for brain cells.  Antioxidants are molecules that grab up free radicals produced by the breakdown of metabolic processes.  These are familiar to us, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotenes from color-rich foods such as carrots, squash, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, and apricots, flavonoids from darker fruits such as berries, cherries, as well as tomatoes and peppers, lignans from flaxseed, flaxseed oil, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and polyphenols from green tea, chocolate, and red wine.

When choosing a Vitamin E product, purchase only the d-tocopheral form, not the dl-form as this is synthetic and may inhibit the d- form from actually entering the cells.  Vitamin E is especially useful to our bodies if the product also contains “mixed tocopherals” as Vitamin E comes in many forms and works efficiently together rather than alone.

So please eat lots of richly colored fruits and vegetables, add antioxidants every day, engage in new experiences in some way each day and know that you are doing a great job at supporting your brain health.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, is completing her Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition, owns Touchstone Massage Therapies in Sandpoint, and is a member of The Sandpoint Wellness Council.

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