By Amira Ayad, PhD & Faculty Member, Institute of Holistic Wellness
Our brain is the most complicated organ in the universe. It is estimated that we have more synaptic connections between our brain cells than there are stars in the skies.
Yet, do we take proper care of this valuable asset of ours?
Depression, anxiety, brain fog, dementia, mood swings, phobias, ADD and loads of other mental and psychological complaints and illnesses became so common…We've become experts at labelling our conditions, yet we've failed miserably at healing them…
Here is a scenario I see so often… a story of everyday life: Michelle is stressed, tired, and depleted. As soon as she wakes up, she turns on the autopilot mode and rides the hamster wheel. Between her husband, her house, her kids and her work, she does not have the time to feed her body needless to say her heart and soul. She eats on the go, mainly processed carbs and sweets. She has no time to exercise, no time for social support, hobbies or leisure. Her pastime is watching the depressing news or chatting on Facebook. She bottles up her frustration and anger and swallows her pains with her morning and afternoon coffees.
No wonder her cholesterol levels shoot up. Her doctor puts her on statin. No one mentioned the side effects… her cholesterol levels become normal, but her energy goes down the drain, brain fog, fatigue, low libido and poor fat digestion… For her heartburn, an antacid was added… Again, no one mentioned any side effects. With no acid in her stomach, protein digestion and absorption became compromised. Proteins are essential to build the neurotransmitters, those magic molecules Dr. Candace Pert calls ‘molecules of emotions’… Another prescription was now essential, an antidepressant for her low mood, poor motivation and foggy brain…
It is my firm belief that our body and mind have a tremendous ability of heal, we just have to give them what they need… we need to properly feed our body, mind, heart and soul. Today, I will focus on my 7 essential rules of feeding your body so that you can heal your mind:
1. One-man food is another man’s poison.
I meet people with food intolerances and sensitivities everyday in my practice. You need to listen to your body: Is there any specific food that eating it makes you feel tired, depleted, anxious, irritable, moody, or makes your brain foggy? The best way to find out is to go on a well-designed elimination diet while closely monitoring your symptoms.
2. Skip that doughnut.
Refined sugars and carbs throw your blood sugar level out of balance which not only increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease, but also pumps up your fight and flight response, increases inflammation and messes up your hormones. Alzheimer's disease is now known among nutritionists as type III diabetes. Depression, anxiety and ADD have well-established links with increased refined sugar consumption. To balance your blood sugar level, you need to choose whole unprocessed grains and carbs and fiber-rich foods; you also need to eat on regular interval and include some form of protein with every meal and snack (egg, nuts, seeds, lean chicken, turkey, fish and veal are good choices).
3. We’re basically ‘fatheads’.
60% of the solid brain mass is fat… But not any kind of fat. Your choice of fat is essential for your brain health. Good choices are olive oil, coconut oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.
4. Water is the essence of life.
70% of our cells is water. I have seen cases of serious fatigue and brain fog resolve by simply hydrating properly. Make sure you drink at least 8 cups of water daily.
5. Your ‘emotions’ are made from protein.
Serotonin, dopamine and nor-epinephrine are your brain neurotransmitters. Dr. Candace Pert calls them ‘molecules of emotions’ as they are the ones responsible for your feelings of happiness, wellbeing, uplifted mood, focus, and motivation… Another close relative, melatonin, regulates your sleep cycle and heals brain cells while you sleep.
Those neurotransmitters are made from protein, or more specifically from amino acids found in high quality protein.
6. Turn off the furnace.
As we live in a highly polluted world and we are leading a pretty stressful life we set on an inflammation process in our cells. This low-grade chronic inflammation is like a low heat furnace that is cooking our cells at a very slow yet efficient pace. We need to turn this furnace off. The best way to do that is by integrating anti-inflammatory herbs and spices in your every day diet. Spices like turmeric and ginger are amazing anti-inflammatory. Other great choices are green leafy vegetables and colored fruits and veggies like berries, red bell pepper, pumpkins, and carrots…
7. Give your liver a boost.
Your liver is the primary detoxifying organ in your body and since the brain is highly susceptible to toxins, supporting liver detoxification is an essential tool in brain protection. Foods that boost liver detoxification are cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard, broccoli…), artichoke, burdock root, green leafy vegetables and spices like turmeric and ginger.
Data shows that the rate of antidepressant use in US increased by almost 400% between the late 90s and early 2000s.
No one of us want to be among those statistics… do we?
It’s time to move forward… it is time to take back responsibility of your own health…
Finally, it is essential to note here that to achieve mental and emotional health, you need to look at all of You: Body, Mind, Heart & Soul. Yes, you need to fix your diet and make better food choices, but you also need to dig deeper into your heart and soul, to listen to your Body Whispers and to reclaim your responsibility over your health and your life…
Let today be the beginning of your health and happiness journey.
About Amira Ayad, PhD
Dr. Amira Ayad is the founder of Women Whispers Academy where women learn to listen to their Body Whispers® before they turn into screams. Dr. Amira holds a master degree in Pharmaceutics and a PhD in Natural Health. She is a faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto and she practices Functional Nutrition and natural health private consultation at Alexandria Medical Clinic in Mississauga. Her practice combines the best of both worlds: science with spirituality.
Dr. Amira published four books. Her books have been translated into more than 10 languages and read and taught by thousands around the globe.
Visit her blog at: www.amiraayad.com