By: Daniel Amen
Five Rules for Brain-Healthy Eating
If you are going to eat right to think right, it is critical to make sure your food is loaded with high quality nutrients that your body is able to properly digest. Here are five of the nine rules for healthy eating that we have refined over 25 years of experience with our patients at Amen Clinics.
Rule #1: Think “High-Quality” Calories – and not too many of them
If you have to choose between quality and quantity, go for the quality calories; however the best strategy is to be both quality and quantity smart. I think of calories like money, and I hate wasting money.
If you have low metabolism, like me, which gets worse, as we grow older, you have to be very wise in how you spend your calories.
Rule #2: Don’t Drink Your Calories
Your brain is 80 percent water. Anything that dehydrates it, such as too much caffeine or alcohol, decreases your thinking and impairs your judgment. Make sure you drink eight glasses of water a day.
Plus did you know that some coffee drinks or some cocktails, such as margaritas, can cost you more than 700 calories?
Rule #3: Eat Clean Protein
Protein helps balance your blood sugar and provides the necessary building blocks for brain health. And it’s critically important because it helps maintain lean muscle mass, which is a real issue as we age. As much as possible, make sure your protein sources and the rest of your food are clean, which means organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, and grass-fed.
Rule #4: Eat Smart Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates have a high glycemic index and cause your blood sugar to spike, while complex carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index, are digested more slowly, are generally accompanied by other nutrients, and are higher in fiber.
Carbohydrates, per se, are not the enemy; they are essential to your life. But carbohydrates that have been stripped of any nutritional value are the enemy.
Rule #5: Focus on Health Fats
Fat is not the enemy. Good fats are essential to your health. After all, the solid weight of your brain is 60 percent fat (after the water is removed). You want to eliminate all bad fats, such as trans fats.
Did you know that certain fats found in foods like pizza, ice cream, and cheeseburgers fool the brain into ignoring the signals that you should be full?