Good Nutrition for your Brain
I have been reading Dharma Singh Khalsa's Brain Longevity book. In addition to inspiring my yoga practice it has also influenced my eating habits. According to Khalsa "A substandard diet is the number-two preventable cause of death in America today, right after smoking. Smoking kills about 425, 000 people a year, and dietary mistakes kill at least 350, 000" (Khalsa 1997, 200). Khalsa's instructions for proper nutrition for your brain are relatively simple.
1. Eat a low fat diet.
2. Eat a nutrient dense diet. Empty calories stress your body in terms of digestions, assimilation, and elimination.
3. Avoid hypoglycemia. Don't let your blood sugars get too low. When your blood sugar is low, your brain functions poorly.
4. Eat a relatively low-calorie diet. Don't go hungry, but don't overeat.
5. Eat a balanced diet. That doesn't mean to eat from the "four basic food groups," rather eat a balance of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and non-animal based protein.
6. Take supplements.
7. Eat real food. Not processed food. Not pesticied-poisoned food. Not embalmed food.
It probably won't surprise you that Dr. Khalsa recommends a vegetarian diet. "Adequate protein can be consumed without eating meat, and virtually all meat is high in fat. Even the leanest types of white chicken are much higher in fat than almost any other high-protein foods" (1997, 207).
The reasons that fat takes its toll on the brain are two fold. "Excessive consumption of fat impairs cerebal circulation by clogging arteries with 'bad' low-density lipoprotein (or LDL). LDL decreases the elasticity of the brain's blood vessels" (Khalsa 1997, 225).
"High fat intake also creates a huge number of free radicals, because fat oxidizes so quickly that if you pour oil into an open container, it will become infused with air in just a few seconds. This infusion of air (or oxidation) will quickly turn the oil rancid, and rancid oil contains some of the most destructive free radicals that exist. When free radicals from fat meet your neurons, they quicly damage the neurons, and begin to kill them" (Khalsa 1997, 225).
Now if that doesn't motivate you to improve your nutritional intake, I'm not sure what will!