Today, I ventured into my garden and was thrilled to see that my lettuce has now grown enough for me to snip enough for a supper salad. This time of the year is for healthy eating. Peas in a pod, carotene in the carrots and beets in the brine are a few of my favorites. Growing up on an acreage and coming from a large family, my mother was always sure to plant a huge garden. We hilled the potatoes, shucked the corn and dug up the potatoes. Then there was the canning, jam making and even chicken plucking later in the season. We were eating nutritionally long after summer. Fresh garden produce, BC fruit and some sunshine, fresh air and exercise kept us healthy.
Eating healthy equals a healthy brain. As mentioned in last week’s blog, memory tips improve brain power and so does healthy eating. It’s easy to resort to the junk cupboard filled with unhealthy snacks, but now might be a great time to replace those empty calorie bags with more nutritional treats. Getting into the mindset of eating healthy requires us to develop healthy habits.
There are thousands of websites, books and articles that all claim to have the answer for better eating. The problem is that many of them rely on advertising products for companies or recipes that require superficial ingredients or sites that share incorrect information. The majority of registered dieticians tend to agree that there are certain components of a healthy diet that feed the body and the brain. What are those you might guess?
First and foremost, we are to eat a colorful plate that include both fruits and vegetables. Eating a variety of “the rainbow” is also appealing to our eyes. Next is protein, preferably lean sources like chicken breast or a supplement or substitute such as oatmeal, nuts, eggs or yogurt and cottage cheese. When cooking, we should use healthy fats such as avocado or extra virgin olive oil. Lastly, eating unrefined whole grains includes items such as whole wheat or multigrain bread, quinoa, brown rice and even non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, celery, tomatoes and brussels sprouts or legumes like lentils and different types of beans or nuts is excellent.
Speaking of specific foods, especially those that could provide cognitive benefits and protect one’s memory, a number of experts recommend 70% cocoa in dark chocolate, cherries and black and blueberries, dark leafy greens, walnuts and almonds and even pumpkin seeds. Cabbage, broccoli and avocados and turmeric are also beneficial. Even having coffee in moderation helps the brain.
The most important way to protect your memory and brain is to drink plenty of water. Our brain is 60% water so we need to keep hydrated. Foods to avoid are fried, red meat, refined sugar and processed foods.
When I eat healthy, I am reminded of Daniel’s story in the king’s court when he resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. The official was worried that Daniel, Hanaiah, Mishael and Azariah wouldn’t look as good as the other young men. Daniel asked him to test them by giving them nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink and then after ten days, compare them to the other men. The official agreed and “at the end of the ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” (Daniel 1: 8-16)
And so, when we want to reach for the cookie, try a stalk of celery. Let’s challenge ourselves to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day. And lastly, let’s thrive on those fresh vegetables while they are in season and see how much better we will feel beyond even ten days!