Friday, 24 May 2013

Nutrients for Thought - Part 2 of 2

From a neuropsychology perspective, thought is intellectual activity involving the subjective consciousness and imagination, which underlies all human actions and interactions.  Thoughts are derived in the brain and can be seen as energy transmission between neurons and synapses.  It’s no wonder that the brain uses such a large percentage of the body’s total energy – estimated at 20% – while it is only a very small percentage of the body’s weight – a mere 2%.

So here’s a crucial question:
If consciousness and imagination underlie everything we are – memory, reason, emotion – and it all occurs in the brain and nervous system, would you not say that feeding your brain and nervous system is of primary importance?

Let me ask you in another way…

Do you want to have good focus, brain energy, and physical drive for the entire day?

Right… then how about we make sure your brain is sufficiently provided for!

How, you ask?  Recall what I wrote in Part 1 of this blog about eating the right fats to fight inflammation, support your brain and nervous system – I suggest you get on it right away if have not already.  What we've known a long time from research is that the brain requires glucose, electrolytes, and water to function.  However, in the absence of glucose the brain is still able to function off of ketone bodies, water-soluble byproducts from the breakdown of fatty acids in the liver… so relax, do not fear death by cutting out carbs, or by the same token eating a lot more carbs by thinking it's better!  Even if you eat something which you think would have no carbs, e.g., a piece of meat, your body will still produce glucose from it.

Brainy Tip
Here’s the final tip to get the right energy levels where you would want them and to make them last…

START YOUR DAY OFF WITH A BREAKFAST FULL OF SMART FATS, PROTEIN, ELECTROLYTES AND WATER!  Breakfast is the meal which determines your brain chemistry for the entire day.  THINK about it: you just slept for hours without food or water so you need to kick-start your melon the right way.

Here are the fats to focus on – saturated and polyunsaturated.  Go moderate with saturated, and be very liberal with polyunsaturated omega 3.  Chances are you have not been focusing on your polyunsaturated fats and that would mean you have an inflammatory imbalance such that omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) is high and omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) is low.  Taking omega 3 much higher is a good thing for cutting inflammation right down because it’s all about the ratio of the two.

Here are sample breakfasts that include everything you should need for your brain and body.

Omnivore Option

Organic grass-fed red meat (beef, lamb, or game meat), with a shot of heavy cream (or 1 Tbsp coconut oil), and eat a handful of nuts (walnut, pecan, or cashews) or a small bowl of berries or fibrous fruit.  Take 3 to 5 g of Omega 3 oil and 1 multivitamin with a couple glasses of water containing natural sea salt, lemon or lime.  Oh yeah, baby!  You’re getting it all here – good fats, proteins, electrolytes, water and a small amount of carbs/sugars for glucose.
I recommended red meat because it is an excellent source of natural, complete protein, which the body is wanting for detoxification purposes first and foremost.  Secondly, these complete proteins contain some key amino acids like tyrosine which trigger dopamine production for mental focus and drive.  Red meat is equally a great source of saturated and polyunsaturated fats as long as it’s organic grass-fed.
I recommended heavy cream because it is an unprocessed source of animal saturated fat.  Heavy cream is the fatty layer carefully separated from milk after centrifuging so it contains very little lactose, if any at all.  If you happen to be allergic to dairy, then you could substitute the cream with another healthful fat like coconut oil.

Another Vegan-friendly Option

I realize there area lot of you out there that have given up the consumption of animal flesh in recent years due to certain controversial reports or you come from a religion that prohibits it.  Even though I personally do not avoid meat for more than a week given that humans have consumed meat for as far back as we can trace, I still respect those that have chosen the tougher Vegan way of life.  From my own observations, vegan dishes tend to involve a lot more purposeful mixing of ingredients to increase nutritional value and the recipes seem to require more attention than non-vegan dishes.  Since most people are not thinking too well or are in a frantic rush after getting up late, I am suggesting the consumption of an easy to make smoothie to save you time:

Create a fiber-rich, smoothie containing: 1/2 cup of Hemp milk or Coconut milk, 1 scoop of Rice/Pea protein, a shot of hemp or omega 3 oil, 1 scoop of greens/mineral formula, 1/2 pint of berries, 2 teaspoons of psyllium husks or ground-up hemp hull fiber, a pinch of cinnamon, and enough additional water to blend properly.   Blend her up good and chew her down with 3 to 5 g of Omega 3 oil, 1 g of L-carnitine, 1 multivitamin, 150 mg zinc chelate, 500-600 mg L-carnosine.
My reasoning for high fiber is to blunt the insulin response which tends to get elevated from liquid meals which rush nutrients in quickly.  I have also suggested cinnamon for the same reason, as it happens to be one of the most powerful insulin sensitizers after the bitter herbs in coffee.  I am personally an advocate of drinking coffee following breakfast to help regulate blood sugar even more effectively, as well as to improve daily fat metabolism.  Recent research also suggests the anti-cancer and anti-diabetes protective effects of 1 to 2 coffees a day.

Reasons to include the supplements I suggested
L-carnitine is a metabolite that is formed in the liver, brain and kidneys through a series of steps, and is also received from meat or fish.  It’s main purpose is the shuttle short to medium chain fatty acids (like essential omega 3s and good fats) in and out of the mitochondria for metabolism as well as for detoxification.  In the absence of carnitine in the diet, one can expect poor metabolism of fat and sub-par mitochondrial function since it will be more backed up with waste and the liver, brain, and kidneys will be working harder to produce enough.  You can think of it as protection for those organs.
L-carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine), a dipeptide of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine, is normally received from meat or fish but is absent in the vegan diet.  It is a powerful anti-oxidant, anti-glycation, immune-boosting and anti-aging factor which normally tends to decrease with age.  Including carnosine in your diet will keep you younger, protect your brain and boost your recovery as it buffers up levels of nitric oxide to improve blood flow to all organs and tissues.
Zinc chelate, which is zinc bound by an amino acid, is the most readily absorbed form of this mineral and again, scarce in the vegan diet.  The best forms to go for are zinc aspartate and zinc orotate, while the least absorbed are zinc citrate and zinc oxide.  Being involved in close to 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, there are too many functions for zinc to list.  What to keep in mind is that a deficiency of zinc commonly presents the following list of complications (and then some): Poor night vision, poor digestion, poor wound-healing, poor infection defense, poor taste and smell perception, poor reproductive function and sex drive.

Where can you get the above supplements?
When I shop for supplements, quality and results is of utmost importance and then price.  The company that has given me incredible results is Poliquin, and the price happens to be very reasonable for the amazing quality…
Here's a link to the Poliquin store:

Poliquin Supplements - click here to visit the site and get a discount

Just remember this... the better your brain is functioning, the more present, alert, and focused you can be…
…THE MORE EMPOWERED OR LIMITLESS YOU CAN BECOME!  I believe that we are all champions like the greats that we admire, and it all starts with thinking that way.

The healthy act of keeping your body and brain “well fed” with nutrients is a crucial step for feeling energetic and having the positive attitude to get up, go out and do whatever is necessary or desired.  People feeling energetic and positive are also the ones who will go set goals and make a difference in the world, especially after the experience of being in a slump in the past and then getting the freedom of good health!
So there you have it, nutrients to really think about and consider and the nutrients you need for thought!   Next time you are trying to decide on what to eat, construct a meal to suit your nutritional needs… and think twice before skipping out on your multivitamin!  Then aim to accomplish and break new barriers! :)
I will be posting more on nutrition in future blogs, including how to know what your body and cells are in need of, so stay tuned!

by Asim Khan

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