Where is my mind?
The songs “Where is my mind” by the Pixies and “If I only had a brain” from the Wizard of Oz pop into my head quite often. They humor me after I experience a brain glitch or can’t remember something extremely basic. I always thought that these “brain farts” were normal. However, when I was writing my dissertation and studying up on things I had learned years ago, I realized that I may have more control over this than I thought. What if I don’t have to read over the same sentence four times to comprehend it, or, totally blank out on something I had once known inside-out? I started my research on “brain foods & hacks” and quickly found that there are many things that can help create optimal performance. Sure enough what I found is that many of the things that are good for your body are also good for your brain. While I have many more health-related topics I’d like to write about in future posts, this one will be focus on “brain & second brain (gut) foods”. While I only mention the gut once, I intend on doing a whole blog on why probiotics and a healthy gut matters for optimal health.
My top 11 optimal health foods list
Some of the top foods that I came across during my research for overall health and combating brain fog are:
- Blueberries (anti-oxidant – will help relieve “brain fog”)
- Avocado (great source of healthy fats and energy)
- Turmeric (Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant)
- Ground Cinnamon (Promotes good circulation)
- Walnuts (rich in vitamins and is an anti-oxidant)
- Dark Chocolate (darker the better (I like 88%); improves mood and concentration)
- Fish (high in DHA and omega-3)
- Oils (avocado and olive; good source of healthy fats)
- Veggies (esp. broccoli!; you know why these are good for you..)
- Sauerkraut (fermented food; great for your gut health. Can do a whole blog on the power of probiotics)
- Coffee (anti-oxidant and found to protect against cirrhosis of the liver)
The following shows how I try to incorporate these foods daily into my food and wellness routine.
First step of the day: scrape my tongue with a tongue scraper. It is a piece of metal bent in a U shape with pink handles. I scrape it about 10 times to get all of the “tongue gunk” off, first thing in the morning. There are many benefits to tongue scraping, so I highly recommend!
Exercise: I try to exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, after I have a glass of water (it is important to start off the day with water, as you lose a lot of water just through breathing over night). Studies have found that people who exercise in the morning typically have better sleep. Also, it sets the day for success!
Breakfast & 20 minutes of reading:
- Another glass of water
- thin rice cakes (only 9 carbs total!) with nut butter (right now I am using sunflower butter – thanks Amy), a chopped banana, blueberries, and ground cinnamon
- 1 cup of fresh coffee (literally fresh, as Dave or I hand-grind it and do it pour-over style)
- 20 minutes of scheduled reading
Supplements: With my breakfast, I take my vitamins. Every day, I take:
- Magnesium (citrate form- better absorption)
- Ginko (for circulation and memory)
*Magnesium is one of the most important, yet human deficient nutrients!
Shower: I take a filtered shower (yes, I bought a shower filter. Super easy to install and ensures you are cleaning your body with clean water). Within the last minute of the shower, I turn it all the way over to cold. By tolerating the cold water hitting your face, head, and down your body, you are decreasing cortisol levels in the body and relieving stress (similar to the cold plunge).
Snacks: Throughout the day, I like to snack on:
- dark chocolate
- chopped carrots
- dried figs
Lunch: This typically is a rotation of a salad with walnuts and avocado or some avocado rice cakes with turmeric, salt, and pepper.
Dinner: Typically, dinner is a mix of salad, roasted veggies (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, beets, and mini potatoes), baked fish, cocktail shrimp, and Chinese dumplings. An important thing to note is that the veggies are cooked in avocado oil (rule of thumb is to cook with avocado oil, as it can handle high heat without becoming toxic, and to use olive oil for dressings and dipping). Avoid vegetable oil, as it is high in potentially harmful omega-6 fatty acids.
Sleep: I try not to eat 3 hours before bed, as food hardly digests while sleeping. I put my phone away from my bed and try not to look at it (unless I get an email that goes through my filter) an hour before bed. I will be purchasing black-out curtains, since I’ve read many benefits to better quality sleep with them. I will post later about the outcome!
These foods and wellness routines have been a part of my daily habits for ~2 months now. I honestly feel like I am more present, focused, and experiencing less brain fog since I’ve started incorporating these practices. There are many other things I’ve added to my daily schedule (such meditation, walks, and journaling) which can also be helping. Since feeling great is the ultimate goal, I will continue these practices and hopefully be singing less Wizard of Oz tunes to myself.