On March 29th my daughter turned 9 months old, this same day I had bittersweet emotions as it also marked the 11th year of my fathers passing. My father suffered from depression and this eventually lead him to take his own life. This article weighs heavy on me as I raise a tiny human with a brain that’s growing and absorbing at an alarming rate. I want to give her the best tools and support to ensure healthy brain development and positive mental health. I truly believe this starts with our nutrition. Did you know that our brains are 60% fat and a whopping 20% of our calorie intake is used to fuel our brains. It’s no wonder what we consume can have such a huge impact on how we feel and perceive.
Mental health has always played a huge role in my life. I’ve always been conscious of my own mental state and I have siblings and friends that are currently managing their depression and anxiety. Although there are many good days, the bad days can often turn into weeks, months and sometimes years. And what do we do when we have these days, consume junk and comforts foods, we often stop exercising and moving our bodies which only worsens the symptoms. Chances are you also know someone that is suffering or perhaps you yourself have struggled with mental health. Even seasonally I see so many people, myself included, fall into a slump over the winter months or the never ending rainy spring or fall. On a less severe scale, have you ever felt brain fog, mood swings, anxiety or an overwhelming or prolonged feeling of being unmotivated. This could all tie into your brain not getting the essential nutrients that it needs. Two mornings ago after a night of broken sleep, no breakfast (or coffee) I proceeded to getting house chores done. I caught myself trying to put the clean dishes away in the freezer and nearly threw the dirty laundry in the garbage… I clearly was not on my A game that morning. Perhaps that’s why they say breakfast is so important, get that brain fueled up and ready for the day.
Speaking of which, here is one of my favourite breakfasts that just happens to be ideal brain food. The overnight oat and chia cups from Staywild. If you have not already tried one of these, I urge you to. They are also baby approved, I usually need to get two otherwise my little one will eat all of mine. I’ve tried so many home recipes but they never come close to how tasty Staywild prepares them. They have the perfect oat to chia ratio and that cashew and date whip is the icing on the cake. Here’s a quick breakdown of the ingredients and what makes them essential for fueling our brains.
Oats: provide glucose, long term energy for the body and mind. They also contain vitamin B, E, potassium and zinc which help the brain function at its optimum level.
Chia seeds: Omega 3 ALA which your brain uses to make DHA fatty acids (essential for optimum brain function). Also a complete protein which means it contain all 9 essential amino acids
Almond milk: Riboflavin, L-carnitine, vitamin E, vitamin D. All key nutrients in supporting positive neurological activity
Cashew: Rich in vitamin B6. Cashews have been know to help fight depression and an anxious mood. B6 can help the uptake of serotonin in the body and help magnesium reach cells more effectively
Strawberries/Blueberries: Rich in Antioxidants and flavonoids help protect against free radicals, reduce inflammation and studies have shown improvement in memory and cognitive ability from diets with high amounts of berries.
Coconut: Healthy source of dietary fibre and MCT (medium chain triglycerides)
I cannot begin to express the importance of managing a healthy mind and I truly believe that begins with our nutrition. What we fuel our bodies with can have a massive impact on our mental health both positively and negatively.
Our brains are absolutely fascinating and the more I learn about how the brain works and what it needs to function optimally, the more I try to make conscious decisions that will make a positive impact. I’m also quicker to realize the negative effects when I make poor choices. Eat well, feel well!
I wanted to use this to promote a really great event The Mindful Morning Retreat that is being held at Blue House Organics by Anngela Leggett and Jamie Maguire but I wasn’t quick enough. They sold out in no time. However, a little birdie told me that there will be a round two at the end of the summer so keep your eyes and ears open if you’re interested in getting more in depth on the topic of nutrition and brain function while partaking in some mindful yoga. Your brain is a hungry little organ, feed it well and seriously you should try an oat and chia cup from Staywild when you have the opportunity.