The seven principles of brain healthy eating

Nutrition & Lifestyle Expert Tana Amen, BSN, shares advice for parents on her seven top diet tips for optimal brain health for your child
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The seven principles of brain healthy eating

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My best tips for optimal brain health are to follow the 7 Principles of Brain Healthy eating according to the AIM Clinics. First of all, all calories are not the same. Focus your diet on healthy calories that help balance the metabolism and balance the sugar. So a 250 calorie candy bar is not going to balance your metabolism the same way that a salad with nuts and berries and protein will. Get plenty of water. Your brain is 80 percent water, you need to continuously rehydrate it. You need to focus your diet on healthy fats. Avoid fried fats, trans fats, and most animal fats. The fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados are essential for great health. Also, from wild salmon. Fats from wild fish are great for you. They are called essential fatty acids for a reason. Your brain is about 60 percent fat. We are all fat heads. You need to get enough of the right fats in your diet. Protein, you need to get enough protein throughout the day. Think of protein like a natural medicine that you are lucky enough to take in; not too much at one time because it creates something called oxidative stress in your body. You want small amounts, just like a medicine you would take throughout the day. That helps do the opposite of what sugar does; balances blood sugar, and increases focus. Make sure you get small amounts of protein. Think smart carbohydrates. Not all carbohydrates are the enemy. Think lots of vegetables and a little bit of fruit, maybe some legumes. I think of legumes like a condiment because you don't want too many starchy carbs. That's a great way to think of it. I think of smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to start your day. Eat from the rainbow. This means, I want you to eat foods with as many different colors as possible; red bell peppers, green leafy vegetables, yellow squash. Blueberries are wonderful. They carry phytonutrients and micronutrients that help boost the antioxidant level in your body and help keep your brain young. This does not include grape jelly, ketchup, and mustard. We are talking about whole foods. We want you to think about brain healthy herbs and spices because they are fresh, and contain lots of phytonutrients and micronutrients that are amazing; especially for children. Sometimes you can't get them to eat a lot of vegetables, but you can get them to eat things like cinnamon and vanilla, and things like, pomegranate powder, that you can add to desserts or smoothies. Those are just loaded, chocked full of fantastic nutrients that are great for children and you can get them involved with that. So, nutmeg, and all kinds of things that are great for them. Those are the 7 principles for brain healthy eating, and they will help keep you young.

Nutrition & Lifestyle Expert Tana Amen, BSN, shares advice for parents on her seven top diet tips for optimal brain health for your child

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Tana Amen, BSN, RN

Nutrition & Lifestyle Expert

Tana Amen is affectionately known as “The Brain Doctor’s Wife.” Working alongside her husband, award-winning physician and New York Times best-selling author Daniel Amen, Tana is a highly respected health and fitness expert, who graduated magna cum laude from Loma Linda University’s nursing program.  After school Tana spent years working at Loma Linda’s in their level A trauma unit as a neurosurgical intensive care nurse, taking care of some of the sickest patients in the hospital.  There she learned firsthand the value of diet and nutrition on brain health. Tana is the author of 4 highly successful books, including three brain healthy cookbooks and a coaching guide. Tana is one of the main consultants to The Daniel Plan, Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Churches’ Plan to get the world healthy through religious organizations. After the first year the church lost 250,000 pounds, but weight loss was only one of the stunning side effects of getting truly healthy.  Other common effects of The Daniel Plan were increased energy, better focus and mood, and a reduction of many medications for the participants. In May of 2013, Tana’s new book, The Omni Diet: 2 Weeks to Lose Weight, Reverse Illness and Control Your Genes will be out.

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