Condition - Keeping your mind in sharp focus
Your mind and body are often wrongly described as two separate entities working alongside each other but in isolation. Symptoms of depression and a spasmodic bowel might lead your GP to refer you to two separate specialists; a neurologist for your brain and a gastroenterologist for your gut. The treatment from each specialist is unlikely to consider the effect of the area they are not personally concerned with. Yet your mind and body are very much connected, which fortunately is becoming better understood. Our minds are heavily influenced by lifestyle factors; foods we eat, foods we don’t eat, stress, chemical exposure and other lifestyle influences.
Cravings, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, memory and learning problems, mood swings, forgetfulness and exhaustion can all be symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar levels. So, what does this actually mean?
Your pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, which manages our cells’ uptake of glucose, and in turn controls blood sugar levels. If we overload our bodies with too much sugar on a regular basis, our pancreas has to continually increase the amount of insulin it secretes until its ‘message’ falls on ‘deaf’ cells, which may lead to insulin resistance, leaving you with too high levels of blood sugar. This causes damage to the body (not forgetting the mind) and possibly, in time, can lead to diabetes.
Let’s take a look at not only the foods we eat because we can remind ourselves, for example, about how important protein is with every meal, or how important it is to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, or how essential it is to drink water; but also, let’s look at the other foods we either don’t eat or don’t get enough of. What do our bodies love? Greens. Our good bacteria in our gastrointestinal system love greens. If they’re happy, largely speaking, the rest of our body is happy. Those often talked-about leafy green vegetables, which include kale, spinach, broccoli, rocket, basil, coriander and parsley, not only keep our bacteria happy, but they provide essential nutrients that help our bodies and minds run sufficiently, which in turn leaves us feeling happy. More focus on consuming green foods and less focus on easy-to-reach, quick energy and white foods will also induce a healthy sleeping habit.
Important factors to consider concern our current food environment. Eating your greens nowadays isn’t equivalent to the nutrient-dense greens available 60-70 years ago. Our soils are not as mineral-rich, and therefore our plants are less nutrient-rich. We can overcome this, however, by supplementing with nutrients including B vitamins and magnesium, either in a good multivitamin or as individual supplements as and when needed.
Sleep is another important factor when aiming for a sharp mind. A lack of quality sleep will leave us feeling tired, unable to concentrate and unmotivated. Magnesium, zinc and B vitamins are essential nutrients to aid sleep production. A diet high in sugar or stimulants, such as coffee and alcohol, will activate the hormone cortisol, which will interrupt your sleep cycle.
Once you are focused on a nutrient-dense diet, avoiding sugar and caffeine, and drinking plenty of water, you can start to use mind-sharpening additions, such as phosphatidyl choline, the memory miracle! It triggers your neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is important for memory. You can either supplement with phosphatidyl choline directly, or you can sprinkle lecithin granules on your breakfast/smoothie every day.