I know this might seem like a silly question, but it’s one that I had to ask myself a long time ago when I suddenly became depressed, anxious, and fatigued.
The answer was quite obvious to me. Something was definitely wrong with my brain and my body. But sometimes, a broken brain is not obvious and does not show up in the form of dementia, ADD, or depression. Sometimes, a less than optimally functioning brain can show up in small ways.
I want to ask you some questions:
- Do your mood and energy level swing up and down?
- Do you sleep poorly?
- Do you feel tired but wired?
- Do you have to live on coffee in the morning and a few glasses of wine at night just to wake up and calm down every day?
- Do you feel frustrated because you misplace objects or forget names?
- Do you suffer from brain fog?
- Do you find it hard to focus on tasks?
- Do you feel your energy diminishing as the days go on?
- Do you fear losing your job because you’re tired, unfocused, inattentive, and your memory is failing so you can’t properly perform your tasks at work?
- Do you see your relationships breaking down because you are mentally and emotionally absent or numb?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not living with your best brain.
So many of my patients come in after months or even years of experiencing brain fog, forgetfulness, anxiety, and depression thinking that these are symptoms that will just pass or that there isn’t anything that can be done about them.. Many patients don’t connect how they feel with how they eat, how much they rest and sleep, how much they exercise, how much time they make for friends and community, as well as the media and news to which they expose themselves. Once you understand these connections, you can change your approach to these important factors and to the other dozens of daily decisions you make.
This is exactly what I aim to address in my new docuseries, Broken Brain. For this docuseries, I brought together over 50 health and brain experts to talk about what it takes to heal from a broken brain.
The truth is that feeling fully energized and maintaining great brain health ultimately requires taking out bad stuff and putting in good stuff, including both food and lifestyle choices. It’s not that complicated, but we just have to know what steps to take.
Many of us get too little good food, nutrients, light, air, water, rest, sleep, rhythm, exercise, community, love, meaning, and purpose. We’re exposed to far too much poor-quality food, stress, toxins and allergens. All of this creates the perfect storm for health havoc.
The good news is that with some specific strategies, you can take back your brain health. This docuseries will go through the major causes for a broken brain and how we can apply specific strategies to heal from brain disorders. You don’t have to settle with these symptoms forever. Recovery is possible.
In this week’s house call I wanted to share my first step for optimizing your brain health. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, I want to tell you about the first step you can take toward a better brain. It’s pretty simple.
Eat. Real. Food.
Yes, food is the most powerful intervention we have and the first step we can take when resetting our bodies.
When I say food, I mean organic (when possible), fresh, local, unprocessed, whole food. And that also means eliminating sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, food additives, and preservatives. Stay away from the junk!
Focus on eating colorful fruits and vegetables. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain brain-boosting stuff like phytonutrients. The dark, deep reds, yellows, oranges, greens and blues mean these foods contain powerful anti-inflammatory, detoxifying antioxidants and energy-boosting, brain-powering molecules. Enjoy an array of colorful plant foods like blueberries and dark leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, spinach, watercress, and arugula.
Also, eat plenty of fat. Fat is actually very good for your brain. In fact, 60 percent of your brain is made up of DHA – an omega-3 fat that you get from algae and fish. My brain worked pretty well before, but embracing fat pushed my mental clarity through the roof.
Finally be sure to optimize your protein. We need about 30 grams of protein per meal to build muscle. When you lose muscle, you age faster and your brain takes a huge hit! Eat protein at every meal, including omega-3 eggs, protein shakes, nut butters, fish or grass fed meat.
In the Broken Brain Docuseries, we’ll go through a step-by-step plan to take control of your health, including how to optimize your diet for a better brain. So be sure to sign up for the docuseries and spread the word so that we can all take back our brain health together.
If you have any questions about the brain, tweet me using the hashtag #housecallwithdrhyman, and maybe next week, I’ll make a house call to you.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD