Aging Better with the Brain Body Diet
It’s not supposed to be this way. Anxious thoughts and depressed feelings rob us of our best lives. Addictions take over our minds. Muddled thinking turns decision-making into an overwhelming task. And we are just plain exhausted.
As Americans increasingly complain of these and other “brain” issues, women experience them at double the rate of men. It’s time to repair the brain body disconnect. My new book, the Brain Body Diet, lays out a 40-day plan, that not only leads to a thinner you, but to the calm, sharp, very best person you are meant to be.
The Difference Between the Male and Female Brain
There’s no denying it: women’s and men’s brains are different. They are different on a molecular level, they differ in structure, and they differ in terms of function. This is the root of why there is double the rate of depression, higher rates of anxiety, even double the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in women.
Women are unhappy, miserable, overweight, their thinking isn’t right, they are depressed, angry, and stressed out.
The cure and prevention are the same for all of these issues and it starts with diet.
We need to connect the body with the brain. We can’t think of these two things in isolation. We need to bring them back together and it all starts with food
As a lead-in to our discussion about diet, Lorie Johnson brought up a fantastic point about our messed-up food supply. She referenced a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that eating processed foods increased the general mortality rate by 14%.
Processed foods and sugar disrupt the integrity of the gut lining. When that happens, it can disrupt the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. Processed foods and sugar lead to inflammation in the whole body and then in the brain. So it can block insulin, it can make you gain weight, and then cause inflammation in the brain, what we call, neuroinflammation. This predates depression and Alzheimer’s by a considerable amount of time. When it comes to Alzheimer’s, we have a 25-year problem that exists in the brain before we ever get a diagnosis.
How Can We Prevent Mood Disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Other Brain Issues?
Here is my top list:
Reduce inflammation. Do this by geting lots of veggies on your plate. I advise eating a pound of veggies a day, mostly the non-starchy types. The starchy ones are the ones like potatoes, pumpkin or squash.
Get lots of healthy fat. The brain is mostly made up of fat so healthy fat is good.
Restrict your eating window. This is incredibly important. So many people believe that they should have breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in between. However, the way our DNA evolved is to eat within an 8-hour eating window, with an overnight 16-hour fast. Overnight fasting clears out the gunk in our cells. But most importantly, it helps to control our blood sugar. I want people to care about the blood sugar as much as they do about their retirement accounts. Your health is your greatest wealth.
60% of cognitive decline can be prevented by managing blood sugar, so it’s vital to get your blood in the Goldilocks range, where it’s not too high and not too low. The best way to do this is to stop eating at dinner time and then start eating again at 10 am the following day. Most of the time you are sleeping so you can do this. I recommend that women start slowly at first and ramp up a 12-hour eating window and a 12-hour fast and then move to 14-10 and then 16-8.
Protect your gut. We talked earlier about the importance of the gut when it comes to the health of the brain. Maintain a healthy gut by eating pre- and probiotics. They feed the good bacteria.
Avoid stress as much as you can. A study from October of last year showed that women are more vulnerable to men when it comes to stress. When you have stress, starting in your 40s, it can shrink your brain, reduce memory and visual perception. It is crucial that you manage stress. Stress pokes holes in the gut lining and leads to that inflammation mentioned earlier.
Avoid toxic overload. Toxic load in the body that can build up and this can affect your brain. This is why it’s important to detoxify. Processed foods and pesticides are one of the biggest culprits in causing toxins to build up in our bodies. Beauty products and products we use to clean the home are also adding toxins to our bodies. I devote a whole chapter to the serious issue of toxins in my new book, giving details of the major toxins, what we can do to avoid them and how to detox our bodies.
Manage your hormones. Hormones are a huge issue. They are behind why we can’t sleep, why we overeat, and why we are stressed out. Manage your cortisol levels. Cortisol is your stress hormone. Get blood sugar and insulin on your side to help reduce cognitive decline. Talk to your doctor about your hormones and ask for hormone tests for the major sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by this list. Brain Body Diet offers doable steps to help you make all of these changes that will not only improve your body but will improve the health of your brain, too. Whatever your age, whatever your starting point, it’s never too late to make positive changes.