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Nutritional Stress-Busters For Your Brain

Authored by: Mona Eberle, Naturopathic Practitioner, Nutritional Therapist and Neurofeedback Clinician

Greetings from me, Mona. I am one of the naturopathic practitioners, nutritional therapists, and Neurofeedback clinicians here at the clinic, and I have a great passion to help people support and heal their brains using natural medicine. Whatever you are dealing with, may it be anxiety, depression, mental decline, and memory loss, focus and attention issues, brain fog, or poor sleep, I have a large toolbox of skills and knowledge to draw on, to help improve your health concerns. 

Here are some basic nutritional stress-busters to support your brain:

First and foremost, it is important to balance your blood sugars and to get off the blood sugar rollercoaster. This can greatly reduce anxiety and even panic attacks by keeping not only your blood sugar and insulin in check but also your stress hormone cortisol.

Eating Healthy Proteins

You can achieve this by optimizing your nutrient intake at each meal. Make sure you eat enough quality protein, anywhere between 3-6 oz per meal. As a guideline, you can use the size of your palm to guesstimate your portion size. Best to choose from proteins like organic grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, organic eggs, dairy if tolerated, or make a protein shake with some of the high-quality protein powders that are available today. 

Did you know that these proteins break down into amino acids that are used to make our feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA? So remember, it’s not about eating a big steak at the end of the day, but rather eating smaller portions of protein throughout the day with each meal, especially at breakfast, so you can feel good all day long.

One of my favorite breakfasts is an egg scramble, using 2-3 eggs cooked in real butter and sautéed with some of my favorite veggies like onions, mushrooms, spinach, and peppers. You can add some cheese, olives, or even avocado to make it even more satisfying. 

Fats to Function Optimally


Next, you want to make sure you give your brain the good fats it needs to function optimally. Choose healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olives, and olive oil, avocado, coconut products, oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring, or mackerel), and butter/Ghee.

Your brain is more than 60% fat and getting enough healthy fat will support good moods and mental clarity. It will also help to reduce inflammation levels not only in the brain but also throughout your body. Nuts and seeds make a wonderful snack, and I’ve been known to sneak a couple of tablespoons of nut butter as a snack between meals. 

Choosing Healthy Carbs


What makes meals tricky are the carbs. We love our carbs and many of us are actually addicted to sugar and processed carbs. Yup, addicted, as junk food can hijack our brain chemistry and keep us coming back for more - they are designed to get you hooked.  I’m the kind of person that has to go cold turkey - I can’t have junk food in my house and it’s best for me to practice 0 tolerance when it comes to processed foods. But not all carbs are off the table, it’s about choosing the right ones!

You want to look for what nature presents us, carbs that come from the soil, or from a tree. Who doesn’t like a sweet potato topped with butter or sour cream? Could you stand to eat a beautiful rainbow-colored salad with a rich olive oil dressing? What about roasting a tray full of mixed vegetables and chicken pieces, or making a colorful stir-fry for dinner. It’s easy to incorporate an abundance of vegetables with each meal. One of the simplest tricks I use is to have a freezer full of frozen vegetables that I can easily toss into each meal, whether it’s a soup, stew, stir fry, or roast. As Dr. Fuhrman likes to say, we have a cure for all diseases, and its vegetables!

Eat Meals with all 3 Food Groups


So putting these 3 food groups together, I use a simple formula that many of you may already know: PFC. It stands for Protein, Fat, and Carb. Each time you put a meal together, ask yourself, “am I giving myself a good protein, healthy fat, and plenty of high fiber veggies. It’s a simple way to assemble a healthy meal so that you can balance your body and brain chemistry!

Food Hazards to the Brain


I do want to touch on the obvious troublemakers for our brain: caffeine, alcohol, trans-fats, food additives, and food chemicals. Caffeine restricts blood flow to your brain and can mess with your sleep cycle. We all metabolize our stimulants differently, but for many, caffeine may linger in your body up to 21 hours and may impinge on the quality of your sleep. Caffeine is not only to be found in coffee but also in black and green teas, energy drinks, chocolate, and even in some medication. I myself have to avoid caffeine, but I’ve found some wonderful substitutes. As weird as it may sound, I’ve come to love mushroom coffee and a wonderful tea, called Teechino with a roasted dandelion root which imparts a coffee-like flavor. I recommend the caramel-nut flavor. 

Unfortunately, alcohol is liquid sugar and does not go through normal digestion. Instead, it goes straight to your liver and then your brain. If you are going to enjoy a glass of wine, consume it with a meal to minimize the sugar rush and the impact on your brain.

Avoid food chemicals, food dyes, artificial flavor enhancers (even when they say natural). There’s nothing natural about them. The FDA allows over 30,000 food chemicals to be used in our food here in the US and they are bad news. My rule is, if you can’t read it, don’t eat it.

If you don’t want hard and crusty, nonfunctioning cells in your brain and body, make sure you also avoid trans fats and damaged plant seed oils. I’m talking, sunflower, safflower, canola, cottonseed, and soybean oil. These processed to death oils are everywhere from processed foods to all the foods you eat when you are eating out in restaurants, as they are cheap!  But they are dangerous to your health. They drive the disease process at the core, at the cellular level.

I generally avoid chain food restaurants, and always check ahead before I eat out so that I can make the best choices for my brain. I also avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store, where all packaged and convenience foods are to be found. They are not your friends!

Food Sensitivities Are Becoming More Common


Because of frequent food repetition and limited food choices we make in our lives, I am seeing people develop many food sensitivities. Common ones are grains and gluten, dairy, corn, and soy. Eliminating these foods can dramatically improve your health and change your brain function. A simple way to find out if you are sensitive is by taking a food intolerance test. Just stop by one of our stores for a test, and we will help you find out your personal food sensitivities and how to navigate an elimination diet.  

There are many other skills you can learn to support your brain and make it a better brain. We have helped hundreds of clients with all kinds of health issues by using simple dietary and lifestyle interventions.

We Can Help You with Nutritional Counseling, Health Coaching, and more!

I would welcome the opportunity to work with you! Consider scheduling a free phone consultation or an appointment by calling 262 251 2929. Total Health provides nutritional counseling, health coaching, advice on supportive supplements, Neurofeedback or brain training, Blue Opal frequency treatments, massage, acupuncture and so much more, to help you optimize your health no matter where you are in your life! Together we can create a real health plan and help you put it into action.

Thank you for listening. May you always be healthy and happy!

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