The most valuable lesson I have learned is that the most meaningful journey is the inner journey.

Our Food and Our Mood

Adjusting what we eat can lead to a happier life

Jean Edelman: Hi, I’m Jean Edelman. For decades I’ve been a student of the healing arts: Reiki, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, plant based and macrobiotic cooking. Join me on this journey and hear my word of the week.

Great to be with you this week. I want to continue the conversation about our mood, but I want to enter in a discussion about our food. NIH is reporting that we all experience a mood disorder at some point in our lives. We’ll feel depressed or anxious. And I just talked a little bit about signals that our body sends us and paying attention and observing, but our mood could also be a message that we’re not getting enough nutrients in our meals.

Did you know that our brain cells are the most metabolically active cells? They are our hungriest cells and they’re composed absolutely of the things we eat. So think about the American diet. It is missing a lot of nutrients that our brain needs to grow and function. In addition to this diet that’s causing inflammation and gut dysfunction, it is all affecting how we feel. The foods that we use to soothe ourselves are the foods that put us in our mood swings. These are high sugar, high fat, ultra processed comfort foods. We want them when we’re stressed and depressed. We crave and eat them because they trigger an opioid-like reaction in our brain, making them addictive. But the more we can learn about our food and our gut brain connection, the better health we will have and the better we will feel. It’s all about taking baby steps, small changes to see positive results in our health.

So a few tips, I’ve talked about this before, but I just want to go over it again. Eat more plants, a variety of colors, greens and reds and yellows and blues, the berries, the nuts, the seeds, the greens, our root vegetables. Eat a variety. Pay attention to our caffeine. Focus on our healthy omega 3 fats, which are the cold-water fishes like salmon. Try to add fermented food. This is wonderful for our gut, which is then wonderful for our brain. So yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented vegetables. So easy to make. Tons of recipes online. We also want to increase our fiber. So the thing is, let’s pay attention to how food is making us feel and how it’s helping us eliminate the food and the trigger foods, like sugar. So maybe if we go and grab an apple instead of a donut, we’re not going to want so much sugar.

How about we pay attention to our mealtimes? Breakfast no later than 9:00am. Lunch no later than 1:00pm and dinner no later than 7:00pm. The reason we want to do this is because we want to regulate our blood sugar throughout the day. And so regular meals at regular times, our body knows it’s going to be fed, the blood sugars stay level and we don’t have our mood swings in the afternoon. We want to listen to our body and be kind to ourselves. There’s the 80/20 rule, 80% on the plan, 20% wiggle room. So we want to have fun things to eat, we just don’t need it all the time. And it’s also best to eat it with a group. So maybe you just get one or two spoonfuls and that’s it. We don’t need to eat these big, huge desserts full of sugar. So next I want to talk about what we’re really thinking about, the food we eat and how it nourishes our brain. It’s all about brain health and gut health and hopefully not going down the road with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
So there are nutrients and foods to eat to help keep our brain and gut healthy. So here are a few. The first is iron. The iron we can find in pumpkin seeds, oysters, spinach, red beet. Magnesium, we find that in almonds, cashews, and spinach. The omega 3 fatty acids, we find that in our wild salmon, our anchovies, our walnuts, our flax seeds. Potassium, we find that in bananas and broccoli, sweet potato, and white beans. Selenium, we find that in Brazil nuts, sardines, and eggs. Vitamin A, we find in leafy greens, orange, and yellow veggies. Our B6, chickpeas and leafy greens. Our B12, clams are dairy products, nutritional yeast. Folate or B9, we find that in Brussels sprouts, leafy greens. Thiamine, we find that in nuts, legumes and beef. Vitamin C, we’ve got that in our citrus, our red peppers, our broccoli, our leafy greens and our strawberries. And zinc. Again, we find that in pumpkin seeds, our oyster and our beef.

The action item for this week is how about we keep a food log? Let’s write down everything we eat and how we feel. How do we feel in the morning when we wake up? Do we eat late the night before? Are we feeling sluggish the next morning? When did we eat? What did we eat? How is it making us feel? I think this is a really good exercise if we want to start taking baby steps to take care of our brain and our gut.

All of this is overwhelming. I get it. But the key is awareness. What we are fueling this amazing body with. We need to pay attention. Don’t grab the chips. Grab a crisp, cold apple instead. Think of our brain and the food it needs to function well.

So my word of the week is Feel.

The F is for Fit, to be in good condition. We hear about our physical fitness. We are going to start hearing a lot more about our brain fitness. What does this hungry organ need to be fit, because it connects to our gut and we’re learning more and more about our gut health and how it is important for longevity.

The E is for Ease, because it’s about small changes. Ease into this. Our body, it will be grateful. It will know that we are trying. It will be happy and respond accordingly and we will notice that we will feel better.

The E is for Enable, to activate and make possible. We can control and impact our health and our wellbeing. We can fuel our body properly, give it fresh water, fresh air, movement and balance. We control that.

And the L is for Life, and vitality. We all want good health. We have the tools. Let’s take the time to notice and make the small changes.

Have a wonderful week, everyone. I wish you a bounty of colorful food and some wonderful brain-fit dinners.

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