It’s easy to underestimate the importance of a healthy diet in maintaining the health of your brain, but such is the nature of our body being its own little interconnected ecosystem. Whatever you put into your body will have a severe impact on your brain as well, so you’ve got to start eating right. Carrie Miller talks about what a healthy diet means in relation to the health of your brain. Don’t try to separate your brain from the rest of your body because at the end of the day, it is a part of your body – and a vital one at that. With Carrie’s healthy brain diet tips, your mind will be just as strong as your body.
Listen to the podcast here:
Eating Right For Your Brain
You won’t find any sugarcoating in this space. I guarantee you that, especially when we talk about our topic. I know you’re going to love this. It’s the topic that everybody wants to debate about because we hear many conflicting stories out there. What am I talking about? When it comes to food we eat, what is healthy? I’m going to be talking about a list of six things you can implement because, let’s face it, that lockdown diet did not serve us well. We gorged on chips and dip, got some ice cream, and thinking those gluten-free cookies were doing the trick. We were ignoring that sugar content. I hear you all. I was right there with you. I was challenged.
The Good Fight
I went through my own battles with the junk food giant. I was spreading that love to the love handles. I was sagging in places I never thought possible. Thank the Lord I got my mind right, looked myself in the mirror and said to myself, “I refuse to make this a habit.” Let’s get back in the game and fight the good fight to stay healthy. One day we will have grandkids. No sign of any yet on my end, but I want them so bad. How about you? Stop and think for a minute. What is your ‘why’? Some of you have got some little blessings running around, some little guys and girls.
How’s your stamina at this point in time? Are you able to wrestle with them, play ball and jump rope or at least attempt to rise somewhere on the corner? It’s the simple things. How’s your mental health? Are you having some intelligent conversations about life, sharing creative ideas with them? There are those teachable moments when we can talk about how detrimental toxic environments can be in reference to land our people. Are you prepared to answer the questions those kids are going to be asking when it comes to science and the studies behind keeping your body and brain healthy? Those are topics we need to be discussing with them. Maybe you have a loved one with dementia and you see the devastating results of the disease and how it affects everyone in the family.It's easy to keep ignoring the sugar content in what we eat. Click To Tweet
Ask yourself, “What is my ‘why’?” You might not even care. You may be living the life. You’re financially stable, feeling good, and thinking you don’t need anybody giving you advice on staying healthy and that’s fine. If that’s you, then stop right here. Please stop reading because this is not for you. This is for the truth seeker. The one willing to step out of that comfort zone, that space of comfort we’re used to. That individual who’s willing to look at alternative ways to feel and look good again instead of taking the next pill. That person who challenges the status quo and has the drive to push through in hard times because their ‘why’ is big enough. If that’s you, I’m excited you’re here. Let’s dive right into what you can do to get your health back.
Number one is to buy food that has no label. That would be foods that are powerful, healing foods that detoxify, that are anti-inflammatory and brain healthy. Eat smart carbs. Look for those colorful foods that feed the gut microbiome, the healthy gut bacteria. Load the veggies up. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and spinach, I love those. There are red peppers, ginger, eggplant, even frozen veggies. Believe it or not, they do retain a lot of their nutritional value, so stock up. I particularly like to shop at the Tomball Farmers Market and that’s in Texas. Be sure and check out Rawfully Organic. Kristina’s got Texas and California-raised organic produce. She’s in Downtown Houston. She’s up only temporarily here, so you better hurry.
Also, Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market is a favorite of mine. In the Hill Country, we’ve got the New Braunfels Farmer’s Market and Wimberley Market Days. If you love wildflowers, the Hill Country is the best place to be in the spring. It’s beautiful. I had to give those farmers a shout out. They work hard. We’ve all been concentrating on our immune health and the experts are telling us, and I fully agree, building your immune system starts with your gut health. Some of the best foods are bone broth and fermented foods such as miso soup, kimchi, and sauerkraut. There’s a variety of vitamins as well, but we’ll save that for another time. As far as fruits, you either grab me some organic berries at the store or grow some berries like my friend Nannette Blair with Ediful Gardens. You can find her on Instagram @Ediful.Gardens. She started a YouTube. That’s awesome. I’m proud of her. On YouTube, she’s at Nannette Blair. There’s nothing she doesn’t grow. I’m impressed with her. Follow her. In fact, I’ve got to have her here soon.
Great For The Brain
You get you some juicy blackberries. Some people call them blackberries, others call them dewberries. They’re blackberries to me. Raspberries are my husband’s favorite, so I love to surprise him with a carton and the strawberries. Who doesn’t like strawberries? My favorite would be blueberries. Many of you know that they are great for the brain. Research shows that as we age, oxidation and inflammation in the brain can damage the neurons. Blueberries may reduce inflammation and cognitive decline. When they’re combined with things such as the three foods like walnuts, both cognitive and motor skills are improved drastically. Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells.
That whole neuron brain cell thing, we need to be into that especially after this whole virus thing. I added some blueberries to Cashewgurt and if you’re wondering what that is, it’s by Forager and it’s the organic dairy-free Cashewgurt. It’s unsweetened. I buy the plain and I add some berries and sprinkle on a few walnuts or pecans and definitely some coconut chips. It’s good. Also, I am known to cut up some apples and throw nut butter on apples and dip them in chia seeds. It’s one of my favorite snacks. You all spend the majority of your time in the grocery store, in the produce section or at a farmer’s market where you can get fresh, local, organic fruits and veggies. You might as well get used to it. Let it be life. I guarantee you, it will pay off. Your body and brain will love you.
Number two, add in the good oil because the bad fats, they do nothing but create inflammation. I’m not talking vegetable oil, corn or canola, even that lard in the can we grew up with. Did your mom own that little tin can and every time she fried something, she’d throw that leftover grease in it for the next meal? I’m not sure if our moms were trying to kill us or we were that poor. I had a young lady telling me that she’s cooked with vegetable oil for decades. She literally thought that vegetable oil was made of veggies. That goes to show you that the marketers and food companies know exactly what they are doing.As we age, oxidation and inflammation in the brain can damage our neurons. Click To Tweet
They get paid the big bucks to fool you, the consumer. It’s not uncommon. We’ve got to wise up for ourselves and always do the research because over the years our food supply has drastically changed. We are now eating foods with genetically modified organisms, hormones, additional sugars, and unhealthy oils. It’s far from clean. What are the good clean oils? I like to keep it simple in my kitchen. That would be extra virgin oil. I also use organic avocado oil and organic coconut oil. They’re great sources anti-oxidants and I’ve been known to add a little Kerrygold butter in my dishes.
Carrie loves Kerry. You all probably know what butter that is, that shiny little package. It’s good. Some say grapeseed and sesame seed oil is fine as well. In my book, simple is best. A few bottles of oils make decision-making easy. You’ll probably agree with that. I incorporate other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids for brain health like avocados, wild-caught salmon, indulge in quite a few nuts and seeds, nut butter, chia seeds. I don’t want to forget the organic pasteurized eggs our chickens produce around here. That thick golden egg yolk is nutritious. Our brain is made up of 60% fat. We’ve got to feed it what it needs so it can work properly.
Number three, limit your sugar and processed foods. Americans eat an average of 140 pounds of sugar a year. Unfortunately, most of us are total addicts. I know you don’t want to hear this, but it is one of the worst foods for your brain. I cringe every time I hear it because I know better, but occasionally it uncontrollably creeps back in my life. When you all go to the checkout counter at the grocery store and you glance at all that bright-colored, fabulously-marketed candy bars that we didn’t have when we were little. We didn’t have choices back then. We weren’t allowed to grab those bars as we do now but we let our kids do now. We see them and we’re like a dog in heat. You know how delicious that Texas Millionaire is because you’ve had it before. All that chocolate, caramel and cones all wrapped up in that cute little red motley packaging and got a little star on it. You don’t even look at the price. When we do, it’s calling your name. Before you know, it’s passed through the scanner and it’s in your purse. Heaven forbid that sugary little nugget go to waste. It’s what we’re thinking, melting in the car before you head for home. I know what that’s all about.
Let me tell you some facts. Sugar has been associated with increased aggression, blood sugar, symptoms of ADD and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, commonly called top three diabetes diseases by the professionals. Some of my substitutes for sugar are stevia, monk fruit, and a touch of local honey or organic pure maple syrup. I didn’t say a glob of honey or maple syrup. I want to make that clear. When it comes to processed foods, how many of you grew up with Pop-Tarts, Fruit Loops, canned biscuits, and cinnamon rolls? Have you ever read the ingredients on those labels? You might not even care about those ingredients or even learn about those ingredients. Why should you? If you want to get your health back though, then you’ve got to be feeding your body with the right stuff. There is no way around it. Learning to read labels is a must. Scratch the product if it has a long list. Don’t even bother putting it in the basket.
Let’s talk about having a cheat day or a cheat snack every once in a while. You can only answer that. I am not here to tell you that you can never eat a muffin or a cupcake, but if you have no willpower to get back on track, then you might want to X it. That’s a big X. This is the way I look at it. Reality is if you walk down that ice cream aisle and that Blue Bell cookies and cream ice cream is going home with you, that whole tub is in your freezer. Little by little, you’d be fixing yourself a little bowl, add some chocolate syrup, pecans or peanuts and you’re going indulge big time. If you take that exit for that fast-food burger or in Texas or Louisiana, we’ve got Raising Cane’s and you pull over for those chicken strips, fries, and Texas toast, you will find yourself in that long line and you will order.
Two things come to mind. Number one, learn to cook at home. Number two, when eating out, choose wisely. Eating at home saves you money and saves you time when you learn to cook simply. That might be safe for you too down the road. I’m going to be starting real soon, so I’ll keep you all informed. Don’t worry. I’m going to share with you all one of my favorite snacks. If you like nuts, here you go. It’s my spicy nut recipe. If you don’t like spicy, you can remove the spice, but it’s four cups of your favorite nuts. I usually have on hand walnuts, pecans, some cashews, and almonds, and then I throw in a cup of organic coconut chips. I have three tablespoons of melted coconut oil, one tablespoon of sea salt, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. I mix it all up, make sure it’s coated really good, and spread it on a piece of parchment paper that’s lined on a cookie sheet.Nothing naturally enhances the taste of your food better than herbs and spices. Click To Tweet
Bake it at 350 degrees for anywhere from 13 to 16 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. They are yummy. If you don’t like the spices, leave it out. Sprinkle on some cinnamon. I like to keep a running supply. It helps me with curbing this sweet tooth and it keeps my husband happy. If you choose to eat out, then look for restaurants that have menus with clean nutrient-dense foods. My favorite restaurants and kitchens are PharmTable in San Antonio, Texas, and Pat Greer’s Kitchen. That’s in Houston, Downtown area. You cannot eat inside, but you can get it to go. They’ve got some fabulous, nutritious meals and snacks and Foddies. I love Foddies. I’m happy to give them a shout out. I love all of them.
Eat As Clean As You Can
Number four, let’s talk on protein. You know it’s better to choose clean. On My Texas Table, we try hard to do the organic, wild-caught, grass-fed, antibiotic, and hormone-free thing when it comes to meat, chicken or fish. You know the importance of feeding your body and bringing the right stuff and that’s simply not fast food. As much as we love our Whataburger and Shipley’s kolaches here in Texas, we personally eat as clean as we can. Meaning when it comes to animal protein, we choose organic or grass-fed. If it’s not available to store, then more than likely I’m not buying it. When it comes to fish, we try to stick with wild-caught salmon, usually Sockeye salmon. Sometimes they’ve got that tag on it, sustainably wild. I don’t know why they call it that. If that’s all that we can find, we usually buy it. As long as it’s got that deep red meat color throughout, it’s okay.
We stay away from Tilapia. We ate it for years until I learned it swims around the pooled areas eating some poop and the poop from other fish. It’s not my kind of nutrition. I don’t think it’s yours either. You’ve got to keep it as clean as you can. Eating clean, whole foods, unprocessed without antibiotics or hormones is known to heal your body quickly. I personally love beans, maybe once a week. There’s no overkill there. You can soak them overnight, add some onion, garlic, spices and slow cook them. You can add a little grass-fed beef if you’re a carnivore at heart. Otherwise, beans by themselves are a phenomenal source of protein, fiber, and magnesium. For quick and easy, canned beans are fine, but I don’t make a habit of that because of the aluminum cans.
Number five, cook with herbs and spices, nothing better to enhance the taste of your food. Substituting herbs and spices in place of sugar like iodine salt and other processed foods are essential. Basil and oregano are powerful. They are known to boost your blood flow, reduce inflammation, and it improves cognitive function. Saffron combats depression by increasing serotonin. Serotonin in the brain is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness and mood. If you’re running low, it’s best known to contribute to depression. Cinnamon is known to boost attention, memory and focus. Curry helps to decrease the plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. Turmeric is another one I love. Its active compound, curcumin, has many great benefits to reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may help in depression and arthritis as well.
Last but not least, number six, drink plenty of water. How do you stay hydrated? A good goal would be to drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day. If you’re dehydrated, you might experience some brain fog, a lack of energy, some headaches, a lack of cleansing and detoxification. Maybe some weight gain. Perhaps an immune system that’s weakened and then you’re prone to more colds and flu. It’s important that you stay hydrated. Studies show that people who were fully hydrated perform 19% better than those who didn’t. Their memory, energy, and focus were optimized. Add some fresh berries, lemon, lime or cucumbers to your water for a change of pace.
Also, you can incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet to hydrate such as celery, watermelon, kiwi, carrots, maybe some tomatoes, cauliflower. I love to drink organic teas. My favorites are India organic teas and Four Sigmatic mushroom teas. I have gone on long enough and that about it. Next time, I’ll be covering the benefits of good sleep. It’s a hot topic and can be quite controversial, but it’s a discussion that we’ve got to examine for your own health. I’d love it if you all follow me on Instagram, @MyTexasTable and I’ve got an Instagram, @TheHealthyBrainPodcast for healthy recipes and brain tips. I’m excited to meet you back here at the same place so that you can move forward and live a long and healthy life. You all come back now. Bye.
- Tomball Farmers Market
- Rawfully Organic
- Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market
- New Braunfels Farmer’s Market
- Wimberley Market Days – Facebook
- @Ediful.Gardens – Instagram
- Nannette Blair – YouTube
- @MyTexasTable – Instagram
- @TheHealthyBrainPodcast – Instagram