Eating Smarter for Your Brain Part 2 with Shawn Stevenson
"The number one nutrient needed for optimal brain function is water."
What foods and nutrients are best for the brain?
In today’s show, we continue our conversation with our phenomenal guest, Shawn Stevenson. Shawn is a nutritionist, best-selling author, and creator of the #1 Nutrition and Fitness podcast on iTunes, The Model Health Show. In this episode, Shawn shares more about the makeup of our brains and which foods are best for memory, focus, and optimal brain function.
Packed with chief information about supporting brain health, he reveals disconcerting facts about tap water, ways we can be intentional about drinking the right kinds of water, and which fatty acids can directly improve both memory and reaction time.
This is a show you can’t afford to miss! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part 1 of our chat in the previous episode.
THE #1 NUTRIENT
- Our brain is made of the food we eat and the water we drink.
- The brain is made up of upwards of 80% water which is also the #1 nutrient for optimal brain health.
- All water is not created equal. Pure H2O does not exist anywhere in nature.
- H2O is known as the universal solvent. As such it is constantly interacting and integrating itself with the minerals and other components in our environment.
- Water becomes whatever it interacts with — water literally integrates with and becomes you.
- The best water has the structure and minerals that we need. Not too many though, because drinking seawater, for example, can literally kill you.
- High-quality spring water generally has an optimal ratio of minerals.
- If you don’t have a water filter on your tap water then you become the filter.
- A study of about 40 million homes of Americans across the country, found traces of dozens of pharmaceutical chemicals, pesticides, and metabolic waste products in the water supply coming from our faucets. Some of those drugs included anti-depressants and chemotherapy medications. Many people are still unaware of this.
- How is this possible? Through the hydrological cycle, many things that we put into our environment are finding their way into our water supply.
- There are even solution programs for water that is going from toilet to tap.
- Getting a simple reverse osmosis system for your home could be the answer, but then you would need to add more structure back into the water because you don’t want to drink pure H2O.
- You can do that through trace mineral drops, high-quality salts, lemons, or mint to help provide electrons and minerals to the water. Hydration is the number one thing.
- Our external environment affects our internal environment.
- Staying hydrated helps you to stay focused, improves memory, reaction time, and thinking speed.
THE REST OF THE BRAIN
- The brain is mostly water, but of the dry weight, it’s about 11% fat, 8% protein, 3% minerals, and a sprinkling of carbs and other compounds.
- Fats are important for the brain but not all fats can cross the blood-brain barrier.
- Although saturated fats have been villainized in media, our brains are primarily made of saturated fats consumed in infancy.
- Mothers’ milk can be made up of more than 50% saturated fat. Saturated fat is immensely important for the initial development of the brain.
- The ability of saturated fats to cross the blood-brain barrier dramatically goes down once we reach adulthood to almost none, but your brain can make its own saturated fat.
- Sound data shows the fats that are most important to consume are omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA.
- These essential fatty acids have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly nourish the brain cells.
- In one study Shawn includes in his book, Eat Smarter, from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that increasing your dietary levels of DHA specifically was able to directly improve both memory and reaction time in test subjects.
- Some of the best sources of omega-3 and DHA are fish. They are the most viable direct whole food source.
- One study found that people that have one seafood meal per week performed better on cognitive skills tests than people who had less than one seafood meal per week.
- For those who take a vegan or vegetarian protocol, or those who simply do not like fish, there are alternative ways of getting these nutrients.
- DHA and EPA are not found in plant sources outside of concentrated algae sources.
- Chia, flax, and hemp seeds are great sources but they are ALA. Your body can convert some of that to DHA and EPA but at least 75% of it gets lost in the conversion process. As such, those are not the most viable options.
- Next to wholefood fish sources, properly sourced fish oil and algae oil are necessary for getting the proper amount of DHA and EPA for your brain. Your brain is starving for it.
- Depending on your ethics, krill oil, is one of the best options because it has been studied more. Most of the studies for omega-3’s have been done on fish oil. Not to say that algae oil isn’t effective, there is just not as much data on it.
- Spirulina and chlorella are types of algae. Spirulina has been found to be protective and reduce neuroinflammation in the brain. GLA is also found in spirulina.
- Another study looked at MRI’s of people deficient in DHA and EPA and found it to be one of the biggest causes of brain shrinkage, which could permanently affect your brain and life.
- The minimum target for consumption is about 3g per day of fish oil or a combination of whole food sources or algae oils.
- Coldwater, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are great source examples.
- Lean fish have benefits for the brain and metabolism as well.
SHARE WITH US
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag me on social media (@JimKwik & @ShawnModel), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
- Check out The Model Health Show, here.
- Pre-Order Shawn’s new book, Eat Smarter, here.
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Episode 204: Eating Smarter for Your Brain with Shawn Stevenson
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Episode 200: Five Steps to RESET Your Brain
Episode 183: How to Have Limitless Energy with Shawn Stevenson