Brain Health: What’s Eating You?

By Lisa Foss, MA, LCMHCA

The human brain is the most complex and hardest working part of the human body. Our brain is at work every moment of every day, without us really giving much thought to the complex work the brain is doing each moment. The brain controls everything we do including our ability to learn, recall information, breathe, digest foods, muscular control, coordination, emotions, thoughts, etc. So how do we take care of our brain and what do we feed it? Studies show about 20 percent of everything we eat goes to the brain so let’s talk about foods that improve brain health!!

These brain foods include seafood, greens (kale, spinach, arugula, collards, beet greens, chard), colorful fruits and vegetables (red peppers, blueberries, broccoli, eggplant), nuts, bean/legumes, fermented foods (kimchi or kefir), and dark chocolate. If you do not eat seafood, try flax seeds, chia seeds or sea vegetables for sources of omega-3 fatty acids. There are also some spices that support brain health, and gut health as well, including turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, ginger, saffron to name a few.

We may reach for a “treat or comfort” food when needing to focus on a task or when feeling low emotionally or physically, but the myth about these foods is while we may have a moment of a boost or emotional “comfort” these foods have the reverse effect on the health of brain and body. If we are feeding our brain the food it needs on a regular basis, we can make a difference in decreasing depressive and anxious symptoms and enhance neuroplasticity (brain growth). Typical treat and comfort foods we should limit include commercial baked goods, highly processed foods, too much alcohol, faux meats (plant-based foods can also be highly processed), and artificial food dyes (some evidence shows food dyes to be an irritant to both the brain and gut; and is also found in majority of processed foods).

Any changes we make to improve health should start small and be doable for you and your family. What is something your kids like to eat?

Maybe tacos…try these fish tacos on the next Taco Tuesday!

Baja Fish Tacos:
1. 1.5 lbs Halibut
2. 1.5 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
3. 1 mango, diced
4. ¼ white onion, thinly sliced
5. Fresh cilantro
6. 3 limes
7. 2 tablespoons honey
8. Olive oil
9. Corn tortillas
10. ½ tsp chili powder
11. ½ tsp turmeric
12. Salt
13. Fresh ground pepper
14. 1 large avocado
15. ½ cup Greek yogurt
16. 1 clove of garlic

1. Pat dry both sides of the halibut and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lime, honey, 2 tbsp of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a medium bowl, toss red cabbage, mango, white onion, and slaw dressing until well coated. Set aside.
4. Using a blender, mix the juice of 1 lime, the flesh of the avocado, Greek yogurt, garlic clove, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Store in the fridge.
5. Cut the remaining lime into wedges to serve with the tacos.
6. Preheat your grill to approximately 450 degrees.
7. Drizzle the halibut with olive oil, then sprinkle on chili powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Repeat on the other side.
8. Place the halibut on the hot grill, cooking 3-5 minutes per side until the fish is cooked through (at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature).
9. Assemble the tacos by placing the sliced fish on a corn tortilla, then topping with the red cabbage slaw and drizzling avocado crema on top. Garnish with cilantro and serve with a lime wedge on the side.

Interested in learning more about brain health and mind-body connection? Join Lisa for the KKJ Lunch and Learn on March 11th at 12:00 for a live-virtual meeting.

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