The brain and nervous system can be vulnerable to the harmful effects of poor dietary choices as well as by not providing a healthy social environment or regular active brain stimulation, all of which can lead to increased risk of mood disorders, dementia, and other related conditions.
Our nervous system is dependent on many important nutrients and conditions that help it maintain full and normal function. Taking care of our brains is similar in many ways to taking care of any other organ in our bodies. Foods that are good for our bodies, in general, are also good for our brains.
We have been calling our diet “Nutritarian,” which means we chase high nutrient foods. Micronutrients, such as phytochemicals and antioxidants, reverse free radicals and damage inside our bodies, so it is very important we consume a variety of micronutrients. The best sources of high micronutrient foods are cruciferous vegetables. This means eat a lot of kale, broccoli, and salad.
A Nutritarian eating style maximizes and takes advantage of these brain-protecting nutrients. Some nutrients found in the foods emphasized in the Nutritarian eating style provide building blocks for nerve cells while others reduce inflammation and plaque build-up in brain cells and blood vessels in the brain. All this, combined with
providing a healthy social environment and regular, active brain stimulation, becomes the best strategy for improved mood and a healthy brain throughout your life.
Mood disorders, such as depression, are strongly linked to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. Though life’s stresses may be blamed as a primary cause, the inability to deal with stress and the breakdown of the brain's stability typically stems from inadequate nutritional intake or heightened requirements of phytochemicals, antioxidants, zinc, Vitamin D, B12, and long-chain omega 3, DHA and EPA.
The following is a sample question from Dr. Fuhrman who has worked with many patients on brain health:
Q. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which seems to be at its worst during the winter months. What foods should I avoid? And, do you have any other tips for overcoming SAD during particularly hard times of the year?
A. As far as foods to avoid, it comes down to eating a high nutrient diet and avoiding processed, refined foods, including sugar and caffeine, and minimizing animal products to less than 10 percent of total calories. Take the supplements I recommend to avoid deficiencies in B12, Vitamin D, and DHA, and get plenty of sunshine. It is important that exposure to sunshine occurs at the same time each day, first thing in the morning. When this is not an option, I recommend light therapy with a therapeutic light designed for this purpose.
We are the DoctorsDaughters. Basically, we have no degrees (as of now), but geek out on a healthy lifestyle. Cara is a naturopathic medical student, Jenna works at the Eat to Live Retreat, a wellness resort, and Talia is a nutritional writer. We were raised by health freaks & vegans, which made for some interesting stories about our childhood. Our dad, Dr. Fuhrman, is a board-certified family physician who has been reversing chronic disease for over 30 years through nutritional methods. We’ve seen food act as medicine for a long time.
You can find more at Dr. Fuhrman's website or on our Instagram @doctorsdaughters!