Nov 9, 2011

Brain Pow-ah

If you missed the last Weston A. Price Foundation meeting on "Real Brain Food," I'm here to give you a recap. Because you just might be interested in knowing that what you eat (or do not eat) really does have an impact on your brain. And your brain? Well, it pretty much controls everything about you. Behavior, emotions, attention, body function, growth, learning, immunity...yep...that's about it.

I'd venture to guess there's not a person reading this blog who hasn't at least known someone with cancer, diabetes, or asthma. Perhaps you've even experienced some of the devastation of these diseases firsthand. But let's just say you've been one of those people blessed with great health and a family with great health, and somehow you've managed to not even have a friend who has dealt with any devastating illness. I'll betcha you DO know a little something about allergy problems. Childhood behavior problems? Attention-deficit disorder? Depression? Anxiety?

Well, what if I told you that the people groups Dr. Price studied so long ago (before Western culture infiltrated them) were FREE of these problems? How did they have such robust health and (bonus!) such straight, white, and decay-free teeth? Dr. Price wondered the same thing, until he began to note the differences in their diets, as contrasted with that of the typical American in the 1930s. At this time, Americans were beginning to consume larger portions of white flour and sugar, while the diets of traditional societies all had three main things in common:

1. They consumed no processed foods. *

2. They regularly consumed animal foods of some kind.

3. The foods they ate were nutrient dense.  (In fact, their diets consisted of four times as much calcium and other minerals as our modern diet and ten times as much fat-soluble vitamins (A & D) as our own!)

How did they manage to get so many more nutrients from their food than we? Check into modern farming practices and you'll see. We have to use man-made nitrogen fertilizers because our soil is so deplete of minerals. This thanks to decades and decades of NOT rotating our crops. We kill the land and then move on to kill more somewhere else by planting the same crop year after year.


We came up with ways to process everything under the sun. Flour, bread, soup, cookies, soy beans. Even eggs! And, in case you haven't figured out how processing affects PEOPLE yet, I'll just cut to the chase...

The more something is processed, the less nutritious it is.

Plain and simple.

So how do we go from eating a primarily-processed-foods diet to a "real food" one like those of traditional societies?

1. Just DON'T eat processed foods.  (If it comes in a box, bag, or package, you'd probably do well to avoid it.)

2. Animals foods should be grass-fed or wild caught. And you definitely should include bone broth in your diet.

3. Grains, legumes, and nuts should be properly prepared for digestion. (This means soaking, sprouting, or culturing.)

4. Include some lacto-fermented vegetables and fruits every day.

5. Include fats and oils like butter, lard, coconut oil, cod liver oil, and grass-fed animal fat.

Our brains really do need to be nourished in order to function properly.

Perhaps you'll find this chart to be helpful:

vitamin a
vitamin d
Why do I need it?
Brain cell development, specifically learning and memory (spatial)
Affects proteins throughout brain, which have a hand in learning, memory, motor control, mood, and behavior.
People who have plenty of choline are smart and have memories that don’t fade with age. It is VITAL.
Must have for optimal brain function, learning ability, and mental development. A deficiency of DHA combined with a diet high in trans fats (found in processed foods) has been linked to hyperactivity, depression, and mood disorders.
Improves attention, reasoning, psycho-motor function, hand-eye coordination, mood stability, visual perception, and verbal memory.
Building block for serotonin, which plays a major role in memory function and SLEEP
Affects neurotransmitters in brain
Where can I get it?
ONLY found in grass-fed animal fats**
Animal fats, pastured eggs, and sunlight. However, to make Vitamin D from sunlight, the body must have enough cholesterol.
Pastured eggs
Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat and animal products
Red meat. Because of modern farming practices, which deplete the zinc from the soil, there is not a significant amount found in produce.
Wild-caught fish and seafood, grass-fed red meat, and pastured eggs are among its highest sources.
Found in any mammalian milk and in pastured eggs

**While carotenes from vegetable sources do contain Vitamin A, it must be converted in order for our bodies to be able to use it. This conversion simply cannot happen without the presence of fat. Besides, one would have to eat an astounding amount of vegetables to get anywhere near the daily requirement. And in her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon states, "Dr. Price discovered that the diets of healthy isolated peoples contained at least ten times more vitamin A from animal sources than found in the American diet of his day."

As Julie pointed out after the workshop, it seems if there was a SINGLE thing you could do to impact your nutritional intake, eating lots of pastured eggs would be that thing. Cook them in butter made from the cream of a grass-fed cow, or have the yolks raw in a smoothie made with raw milk, and you've got a healthy helping of almost every one of the "brain food" necessities listed above!

*Now, back to those evil processed foods. Ahem...

What makes 'em so bad??

Well, for starters, they contain:

refined sugars
high fructose corn syrup
trans fats
rancid vegetable oils
white flour
artificial flavors
artificial colors
protein powders
soy protein isolate
artificial sweeteners
nitrates and nitrites

Start Googling, and after just the first couple of items on this list, I am certain you'll become fairly horrified at the damage these can cause. 

So, what things can you cut out from your diet today?? And what things can you put in to promote healthy brain functioning?? 


P.S. If you, like most Americans, were once duped into believing fats were inherently evil, you can see from the chart above, from this post, and from this post that is simply not the case. If you'd like to hear more about the whys and wherefores, be sure to register for Sharon New's "Politically Incorrect Nutrition: Debunking the Low-Fat Myth" workshop to be held this Saturday, November 12th at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church. You may register here.

Linking up at Real Food Wednesday.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy to have found your blog! I live in central AR and am just beginning a real food journey. I had no idea where to even begin finding these foods, so your blog is a big help!



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