By Rosie Steele, Patient Coordinator

The summer has come and gone, and just like that, it’s time for another school year. Amidst the chaos of preparing for the academic year (school supply shopping, orientations and activities sign-ups…oh my!!), don’t forget to give equal attention to planning for a great year as it pertains to your kiddo’s health!  

If you’re anything like me (proud mama of two elementary schoolers), you want to do all you can to make sure your child has the energy, focus, and of course the strong immune system, that they will need to have an amazing year. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

 

Nourish Them Well

One of the most important things that we can do to impact our children’s lifelong health is to encourage a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet. If your kids are anything like mine, they are constantly being offered junk foods full of chemicals, artificial ingredients, and sugars everywhere they go. As you prepare for the coming year, remember to make plans to have the best choices possible available at your house.

  • Incorporate more whole foods in your meals and recipes, such as high quality proteins (choose pasture-raised meats, wild-caught seafood, and unsalted nuts and seeds), plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (choose non-GMO/organic whenever possible), whole grains, and of course, plenty of good beneficial fats to boost brain power! 
  • Find ways to reduce sugars and artificial sweeteners, corn syrups and trans-fats.
  • Avoid ingredients that your child might be sensitive to, especially if they have any chronic health, behavioral, or immune challenges. If you aren’t sure whether your child has food sensitivities, our practitioners at Longevity Health Center are here to help you identify them!
  • Encourage good hydration by offering plenty of water and limiting juices, sodas, and energy drinks, and other diuretics in your home.

 

Create a Healthy Home Environment and Culture

When it comes to our health, what we put into our mouths is just the beginning. Our kids are rapidly growing and developing. They’re constantly being bombarded with physical and emotional stressors. We all want our children to learn healthy habits so they can guard against emotional and physical stress and lead a long and thriving life. These habits start with you! Here are a few ways you can create a culture of whole and healthy living in your home. 

  • Allow plenty of time for sleep and rest. Our busy schedules are go-go-go!  Your child needs plenty of good-quality sleep to restore and re-energize for the coming day.  Just like us, our kids need down-time to recharge their minds, bodies, and spirits. 
  •  Encourage open communication and positive family relationships.  Try to protect the family dinner meal time a few times a week, using it as a time to connect and ask about the highs and lows of each family member’s day. 
  • Limit screen time, and ensure the media that your child consumes is age-appropriate and that its messages align with those that you want your children to receive.
  • Teach responsibility by assigning developmentally appropriate chores around the house and care-taking tasks for younger siblings or pets.
  • Encourage mindfulness and gratitude by teaching prayer, meditation, and breathing techniques to your kids. Consider participating in worship and community service as a family.
  • Opt outside! Take a walk outside after dinner, enjoy an afternoon at the park, plan an annual camping trip, or other ways to spend quality time together in nature. 
  • Switch to non-toxic personal hygiene and household cleaning products.
  •  Install drinking and bathing water filtration systems in your home.

 

Provide Supplemental Support 

Despite our best efforts to ensure our children get proper nutrition and learn healthy habits, it’s impossible to do everything perfectly. We are limited by time, budget, and resources, and some things are just out of our hands! Supplements are a great way to give our children extra support.  Consider adding the following supplements to your little one’s daily routine.

  • Whole Food Multi-Vitamin:

When it comes to a multi-vitamin to supplement your child’s daily vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake, quality matters. Don’t settle for the popular brands that are loaded with artificial ingredients and sugars. I personally try to give my children nutritional supplementation from food, so the vitamins and minerals can fill in any gaps in their diet! Our family favorite is whole food greens powders. Throw them in smoothies, muffins, or even popsicle treats for your kids.

 

 

Product Spotlight:  Indigo Greens by Ortho Molecular

Why I love this product:  It’s certified organic, loaded with nutrient-dense vegetables, super foods and antioxidant rich fruits and berries.  This product is allergen free and the taste and texture can’t be beat!

  • Probiotic

Believe it or not, your child’s digestive tract should contain over 400 different types of bacteria that work to promote healthy digestive and immune function. Since the standard American diet of processed foods depletes us all of this beneficial flora, it’s important to take a probiotic supplement from an early age.

 

Product Spotlight:  HMF Fit for School by Genestra

Why I love this product: It’s chewable, it tastes great, and it contains over 12 billion live cultures of research-driven probiotic strains to significantly improve immune, digestive, and even respiratory function!

  • Omega-3 EPA/DHA

When it comes to the food pyramid that we were taught when we were kids, nutritionists are now teaching us to basically flip it upside down. Once again, the standard American diet is highly lacking in these beneficial fats. Children need these good fats, not only for their rapidly growing brains, but for their eyes, skin, joints, hearts, and even for their hormone production!

 

Product Spotlight:  High Potency Omega-3 EPA/DHA by Barlean’s

Why I love this product:  It’s liquid but it tastes and smells great!  Also, it’s highly concentrated, with 1,500 mg of Omega-3 EPA/DHA in a single serving!

 

Be Prepared for When Illness Strikes

Of course we want to rest easy at night knowing that we have done everything that we possible can do to protect our kids from illness, but unfortunately, it’s inevitable that our kids will have an immune response from time to time. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Some studies suggest that common illnesses in childhood actually help us to build immunity for more serious illnesses later in life.  Even so, there is nothing that breaks a parent’s heart more than to see their child suffering. When illness strikes, we want to be ready to strike back!   

In many cases, antibiotics are not the answer. More and more medical doctors acknowledge that the widespread overuse and misuse of antibiotics is the key contributing factor to the rise of antibiotic resistant infections in our country. Other problems that can result include chronic infections, candida overgrowth, skin ailments, weakened digestive function, food sensitivities, environmental allergies, and weakened immune function.  So if we can’t run to the grocery store to pick up a 10-day round of amoxicillin, what can we do? I recommend having an arsenal at the ready! Here are my go-to choices to kick the sniffles to the curb!

  • Vitamin D3

Among its many benefits, D3 activates the immune system to defend against invading microorganisms.  We get this fat-soluble nutrient through sun exposure, but during the dreary winter months of cold and flu season, it’s often necessary to get it through supplementation.  As a general rule, children should take a daily dose of 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight.

 

Product Spotlight:  Vitamin D3 with K2 by Ortho Molecular

Why I love this product: It’s liquid but virtually tasteless, so it’s easy to get into that picky little one’s mouth.  Also, a little goes a long way! 1 drop = 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3.

  • Elderberry / Sambucus

Many of the common infections hit our kiddos in their respiratory tract.  Those yucky coughs can often linger for weeks after the illness has passed.  Elderberries are a great way to boost the immune system and to protect the respiratory tract.  They can safely taken both preventatively and during acute illness.

 

Product Spotlight:  ImmunoBerry Liquid by Designs for Health

Why I love this product: Unlike other elderberry syrups on the market, this one doesn’t have sugar (which can be counterproductive while we’re sick!) – instead it’s sweetened with natural berry flavor.  It’s also accompanied by Astragalus, Wild Cherry and Shiitake/Maitake Mushrooms. All these ingredients work together to powerfully support immune and respiratory function, and can safely be taken every day!

  • Silver Hydrosol

Silver has been used for generations as a powerful first aid tool for a wide variety of ailments.  When used effectively, it can provide amazing immune support.

 

Product Spotlight:  Argentyn 23 by Natural Immunogenics

Why I love this product: Argentyn 23 is actively charged with 23 PPM of bio-active, pure silver ions and purified pharmaceutical-grade water, making it more powerful than the other brands.  It can be taken for both maintenance, long-term and short-term immune support!

  • Antimicrobial Herbs

So many botanicals in nature have antimicrobial properties.  These plants are gifts from creation and can be a powerful alternative to synthetic pharmaceuticals to treat a wide variety of infections.  But when it comes to herbal blends, quality counts! It’s so important to select reputable brands that you know you can trust.

 

Product Spotlight:  CQ Jr. by Blue Poppy Herbs

Why I love this product:  It’s easy to dispense, it tastes great and it works really well! 

When it comes to our children’s health, we all want nothing but the best for our kids.  No one is perfect…there are steps that each of us can take to promote the physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of our little ones.  

During this hectic back-to-school time, Longevity Health is here to be a resource for you!  Please come to us with your questions and concerns, and let us walk alongside you to help you raise happy, healthy kids. Here’s to a wonderful school year! 

 

 

 

By Elisabeth Frey, HHP/Patient Coordinator

Many parents find the challenge of feeding their kids healthy foods daunting, especially during the busy school year. As a busy mama of both an elementary and middle schooler, I get it! The most common obstacles include the individual preference of the children, food sensitivities, the constant bombardment of junk food at social functions, the lack of convenience, not wanting to create psychological issues surrounding food, and the financial cost of healthy eating. Phew! It really is a lot to consider!  But I hope these little pointers will help make feeding your littles well a more manageable task.

Start Them Young

The best way to minimize issues around eating healthy is by training kids young. Postponing a child’s exposure to processed foods as long as possible will train their taste buds to appreciate the flavors of real foods. If you’re beginning this journey with an older child, take heart, because it’s never too late! 

We are lucky to live in a time where there is increasing awareness of the importance of eating healthy, and there are numerous resources available to help us expose our children to whole foods. Pinterest is a gold mine for recipes that “sneak in” veggies for picky eaters, and for healthy and fun recipes for children and the whole family.  Keep encouraging your children to try new things and don’t be disheartened if there are a lot of failed attempts. You will, over time, find enough kid-approved healthy foods to build a healthy balanced diet for your children. And in the meantime, try to minimize the damage of junk food. For instance, instead of choosing chips made with hydrogenated oils, dyes, artificial flavoring and MSG, choose organic non-GMO popcorn with olive oil and sea salt, and kombucha or sparkling water over sugary juices and sodas. 

Accommodating Food Sensitivities

Here at Longevity, we often focus on mending the gut in order to minimize the role that food sensitivities play in overall health. During the healing process, many foods may need to be avoided so that we can reduce inflammation to allow for repair and restoration of the gut microbiome. Once the gut is healed, most individuals can loosen up a bit, though it is always important to pay attention to the signals your body sends about the food you are eating. Getting healthy is truly a journey in self-discovery and awareness. No two bodies are the same, and so it is imperative to listen to what yours is saying to you about the food you are eating. You may not always like the way your body communicates, but headaches, tummy aches, digestion issues, rashes, and fatigue are all ways that your body lets you know what foods are not working for you. This is an important lesson to teach your children as they grow up, and it will save them so many health issues later in life.

No matter what food sensitivities you have, it is important to make sure you are getting a balanced and nutrient rich diet.  For instance, if you are celiac or gluten-sensitive, it’s important not to just replace your foods with packaged gluten-free substitutes (which contain a lot of starch and sugar to make up for the stickiness that’s missing from gluten). One simple trick I have found that helps ensure my children’s lunches are whole-food based and not built around gluten or gluten free bread is by getting stainless steel stackable lunch containers. It allows me to pack things like soup and salad or last night’s leftovers with ease!  Plus, it reduces the use of single-use plastics. That’s good for us and the environment! They definitely still enjoy a turkey sandwich sometimes, but it is always open-faced, allowing me to minimize the gluten-free bread while stacking the top with lots of veggies (avocado, sprouts, cucumber and lettuce!). The other two containers may contain a salad or veggies to dip in hummus, and some fruit and trail mix, or perhaps a goat milk yogurt parfait loaded with berries and nuts and homemade granola.

Finding a few restaurants in your area that you enjoy and can accommodate your food sensitivities is another way to reduce the frustration of working around your dietary restrictions.

Navigating Social Events

Food is intrinsically communal. It has been used as a centerpiece for social gatherings since the beginning of time, throughout all cultures. There is a beautiful ceremonial quality to it that communicates a sense of belonging and connectedness. Unfortunately, if you are trying to eat a healthy diet in our current culture, it can often feel isolating. You aren’t just missing out on food, but on engaging in a communal experience. There are a few ways to work around this issue.  

Firstly, developing friendships with like-minded families who prioritize their health can be such amazing positive reinforcement as well as offer a communal experience built around nutritious food. Secondly, providing healthier alternatives for your children at social gatherings, especially if there is enough to share with the other children, can keep your kid from feeling like the odd one out. Some teachers even allow you to send in healthier options to keep on hand when one of the other student’s brings in cupcakes for their birthday. This definitely requires some intentionality and planning, but is worth it. I always like to keep my kids favorite, gluten-free/low-sugar pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (made with almond meal!) in the freezer to pull out for just such occasions. Finally, relaxing the standards a little bit for special occasions is okay!  We aren’t seeking perfection, as the stress of such a mindset isn’t healthy in it’s own way. Instead, try to seek a healthy balance between mind and body. If you normally eat healthy, you can rest assured knowing that our bodies can handle a little bit of stress, and that the communal experience is worth it from time to time. 

Plan Ahead for A Busy School Week

Preparation is your secret weapon when it comes to keeping your family eating whole and healthy. This is where your freezer and a little food prep can be your best friends. Sunday afternoons are a great time to stock up on healthy meals and snacks for the week.  I typically make a pot of soup that I can pair with a salad to provide us with at least two dinners throughout the week (invaluable on the nights of practices and other extra-curricular activities) and some breakfast foods for busy mornings, Almond Meal Muffins and eggs in muffin tins loaded with veggies and topped with a little organic cheese. 

Set a Positive Tone

Be mindful of the attitude and language you use around food, as it will most certainly rub off on your child. We can train our children to eat healthy food without making it stressful or shameful.  Physical health should not come at the cost of your child’s psychological health! The goal is to teach them to honor their bodies by feeding it well. Avoid phrases like, “cheat day” or saying “I feel so fat” after a big meal, which both suggest that eating is somehow shameful and food is bad. Instead, try to focus on seeing food as fuel. Certain fuels will make our bodies run better. Encourage your children to see their bodies as vessels that enable them to enjoy life and fulfill the deep purposes for which they are called. Making healthy choices will facilitate physical health, personal growth, and enjoyment of life.

Making It Work On A Budget

Unfortunately, eating healthy can be quite taxing on the wallet. But, once again, with a little intentionality and planning (notice a theme?), you can minimize the cost of healthy eating.  For starters, being willing to food-prep can greatly reduce cost as the majority of expense comes from packaged products. And with budget-friendly stores like Aldi carrying an ever-increasing variety of organic options, healthy eating really is accessible to all, no matter your budget!  It may not be as glorious a shopping experience as strolling through Whole Foods, fresh brewed coffee or fresh-squeezed juice in hand (truly one of my favorite pleasures! Don’t you feel healthier just by being there?!), but organic Aldi produce provides every bit the same nutrition that your body needs, without nearly the temptation to buy expensive pre-packaged products you don’t need.  

Please let me or another Longevity staff member know if you ever have any more specific questions regarding your or your childrens’ diet. We love to see our patients feeling empowered to provide a nutrient-rich diet for their families!  And let us know what things you have learned on your health journey that have made it easier to overcome the obstacles of healthy eating!

By Elisabeth Frey, HHP/Patient Coordinator

By its very definition, holistic healthcare is about understanding the interconnection of the heart, soul, mind and body. Trauma is a prime example of the way that our emotions can impact our physical health and wellbeing. Trauma can result from any kind of distressing or disturbing event. We all experience mild traumas throughout our daily life, but when severe trauma occurs, there is significant risk of it causing physical harm.

Symptoms of Trauma

Mental & Emotional Symptoms Depression, Anxiety, Shock, Anger, Irritability, Mood Swings, Despair, Mood Swings, Guilt, Shame, Self-Blame, Sadness, Panic attacks, Anger, Irritability, Hopelessness
Physical Symptoms Insomnia, Racing Heartbeat, Muscle Tension, Easily Startled, Aches and Pains, Exhaustion, Nightmares, Edginess, Agitation, Fatigue, Muscle Tension, Dry Mouth, Tachycardia, Headaches, Nausea and Vomiting
Psychological Symptoms Confusion, Difficulty Concentrating, Insecurities, Repressed Memories, Dissociation, Emotional Numbing, Constant Fear, Denial and Disbelief, Flashbacks,

Emotional Detachment, Low Self-Esteem

Behavioral Symptoms Frequent Nightmares, Insomnia, Startled Easily, Fatigue, Edginess, Self-Medicating with Drugs and Alcohol, Self-Harming Behaviors, Difficulty Concentrating, Social Isolation, Avoiding Certain Events that May Trigger Memories, Avoiding Certain People

 

When we experience trauma, the body is sent into fight or flight mode. This is a very helpful mechanism of the body, as it is meant to give us the adrenaline we need to survive threats and crises. But when major trauma occurs, our brains often protect us is by a process called dissociation, which can occur in varying degrees.

Dissociation allows us to isolate the trauma and temporarily disconnect brain (or parts of it) from body, so that we are not overwhelmed by the pain, sorrow, or fear of the crisis at hand. However, if there is not an intentional reconnection of this riff between body and brain when the crisis is over, the brain will continue to send signals to the body that it is unsafe, resulting in long-term health effects. For many experiencers of trauma, this process leaves the body stuck in fight-or-flight mode, also known as sympathetic dominance.  

When in sympathetic dominance, our bodies do not prioritize things it deems less important, like digestion or sleep. As you can imagine, this leads to many long-term health issues, such as elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones that can increase the odds of heart attack, stroke, and hypertension.

While living in a state of sympathetic dominance can be taxing to the physical health of an individual, it is important to note that this state is essential to surviving trauma. Our bodies are not betraying us. The extra adrenaline and heightened alertness that this state produces empowers us to rebuild and reconnect to both ourselves and other safe people. However, it is imperative that the trauma is processed as soon as possible after the threat is over to reduce the negative long-term effects of living in a state of sympathetic dominance.

There are many ways to heal trauma and to reconnect body and mind. Here are a few that I recommend.

Acupuncture: In the past decade, much research has been conducted on the efficacy of acupuncture in assisting those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It has been shown that acupuncture helps rebalance the brain after significant stress, as well as the nervous and hormonal systems.  If acupuncture is performed shortly after a traumatic event, it can help reduce the risk of developing PTSD.  With more extended treatment, acupuncture can also restore resiliency for those who suffer from long-term and chronic PTSD. Learn More.

David Winston’s Grief Relief Formula:  This is the first thing I reach for whenever clients or loved ones have experienced recent loss or trauma.  It contains Mimosa (a very effective mood elevator), Rose Petals (which helps open the heart and comfort distress), and Hawthorn Berries, Flowers and Leaves (beneficial for heart and nerves).  This formula does not mask pain, but simply allows us to gently open ourselves to face and process it. (Available in the Longevity Nutrition Shop).

Yoga/Meditation: Bessel van der Kolk, MD, a clinical psychiatrist and leading expert on trauma explains the healing benefits of yoga in this way: When people think about trauma, they generally think of it as a historical event that happened some time ago. Trauma is actually the residue from the past as it settles into your body. It’s located inside your own skin. When people are traumatized, they become afraid of their physical sensations; their breathing becomes shallow, and they become uptight and frightened about what they’re feeling inside. When you slow down your breathing with yoga, you can increase your heart rate variability, and that decreases stress. Yoga opens you up to feeling every aspect of your body’s sensations. It’s a gentle, safe way for people to befriend their bodies, where the trauma of the past is stored.”

There are many meditation apps now available, such as InSight Timer and Headspace.  InSight Timer allows you to search meditations by topic, as well as conveniently navigate categories such as “sleep meditations”, “meditations for healing”, and “Christian meditations.”

FSM (Frequency Specific Microcurrent): This therapy works by stimulating the mitochondria which promotes healing through increasing ATP production.  There is a specific Trauma Protocol that can both help calm the nervous system after a recent trauma and help process old, stored trauma. Learn More.

EFT Tapping:  This is a special technique that combines self-talk with manually stimulating acupuncture points by tapping on them with your fingers. Tapping the acupuncture points calms the nervous system, while you work through negative emotions and reach a place of loving self-acceptance. To get started, it can be helpful to have a pre-developed script to follow, though as you become more proficient in this technique, you can begin identifying your negative emotions and improvising accordingly. This is an amazingly effective tool you can take with you anywhere you go. All you need is yourself!  However, if you need help getting started, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Longevity.

Adrenal Supporting Herbs: Adaptogenic herbs like Tulsi, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola help our bodies adapt to the effects of stress.  These plants can be very helpful in supporting our bodies as we rebuild from past trauma, but can also help reduce our likelihood of developing PTSD when faced with traumatic events. We carry a variety of Adaptogenic herb blends in our Nutrition Shop.

Relational Connectedness:  Our capacity to withstand distress without getting stuck in a trauma loop varies greatly from person to person. Lifestyle and genetics both play a role. But an overwhelming amount of research has proven that a person’s ability to withstand trauma is most greatly influenced by their sense of connectedness to others. Just as it’s never too late to address past traumas, it is also never too late to seek out healthy and meaningful relationships. There are many support groups built specifically to address particular types of trauma at local churches, and at counseling and community centers. It may take a few attempts to find the place where you feel comfortable, especially since social anxiety is often a consequence of trauma. But don’t give up!  Perhaps one-on-one relationships are a better fit for you. There are many licensed professional counselors who specialize in trauma.  But regardless of which path you take, healthy supportive relationships and a sense of connectedness are fundamental to your healing.

Please give us a call if you suspect emotional trauma may be playing a role in your health challenges.  We are honored to guide and walk alongside you as you figure out solutions that work best for you, guiding you to health and wholeness in mind, body and spirit!

By Seneca B. Anderson, DOM, ND, L.Ac. / Longevity Founder

It’s hard to believe that 2018 marks 40 years of practice for our health center. When my wife Kay and I first started out, we had no idea how our vision for a natural health center would flourish to the extent that it has. All these years later, I can honestly say I’m still happy to come to work most days, and still get excited learning about new approaches to natural healing. What really brings us the most joy and happiness is seeing folks achieve positive results with their health and quality of life.  It makes me particularly proud to see my daughter Alice Honican and our other practitioners get results with their clients, and I’m happy to know they’ll carry on the Longevity mission to love God and serve others for years to come.

If you’ve come to see me over the last few decades, you’re probably familiar with my testing equipment, the VEGA machine. When you’re in our office you can always hear the whiny siren noise it makes to indicate each of my patients’ toxicity levels, stressed organs and specific toxins burdening their systems.


Today, performing a VEGA assessment is second nature to me, but there was a time when this was not the case. When I first invested in the equipment, I believed in what it could do, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it! I even traveled to Germany and studied under Dr. Helmut Schimmel, world-renowned physician and inventor of the VEGA test method, but when I came back home I just couldn’t get reliable results with my own patients.


After much discouragement and frustration, I took my dilemma to the Lord. I was a relatively new believer at the time, but I had just enough faith to pray this prayer: “God, if you show me how to use this equipment, I’ll use it to serve you through serving others for as long as I’m able.” Soon after I made this request, I had a dream. In the VEGA method organ ampules are introduced into the circuitry of the equipment. Dr. Schimmel used a rocking technique while measuring the acupuncture points. I was never able to master this technique despite the hours I put into practicing over the course of several months.


In the dream I was performing an assessment, but instead of trying to duplicate Dr. Schimmel’s technique I held the measurement tip on the acupuncture point, and with a positive response the conductivity value decreased.  I woke up knowing that I could accurately perform the testing, thanks be to God.  He has sustained us and upheld us these forty years! 
To all our loyal and faithful patients over the years, we say thank you. You’ll never know how much it means to our family and staff that you trust us with your health. We are just vessels, and our testing equipment are great tools, but God is the Great Physician! Here’s to many more years of health and healing.

School is back in session in Georgia!  Check out these dietary tips for boosting your child’s cognitive function this school year.

Don’t Skip Breakfast!

Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day and skipping it takes a negative toll on brain function.  Unfortunately, the American model of breakfast includes sugar-laden cereals, toast, donuts, bagels, and other refined carbohydrates.  It is time to break the mold and reach for higher protein items in the morning.  Adults and kids who eat a balanced, high-protein breakfast perform better at work and school and have improved mood and energy levels throughout the day.  Plus, it takes longer for our bodies to digest protein than it does carbohydrates so the energy we get from it lasts much longer, keeping us from snacking by mid-morning.

Get off the Sugar Roller Coaster!

Refined sugars, white flours and other processed foods deplete our tissues of B12.  So when our meals are out of balance, it’s only natural that our mood, energy and focus will take a nose dive.  Many people use starchy carbs and sugars to lift them out of these slumps, only to find that they plummet again an hour or two later.  This cycle continues day in and day out, taking a huge toll on the adrenal glands and our quality of life.  Limit sugar, starches and other high-glycemic foods to enhance brain function all day long.  If you must use a sweetener, raw, local honey, grade b maple syrup, whole leaf stevia, and xylitol are much healthier alternatives to white sugar.

Bulk Up on B12!

Also known as the “feel good vitamin,” B12 helps ward off fatigue and weakness.  It also enhances our ability to reason and think logically.  B12 assists in the production of myelin, which keeps the nerves in our brain in good repair.  Depression and memory loss can be sure signs of B12 deficiency.  When it comes to foods high in B12, protein is the name of the game.  The vitamin is abundant in all animal products: meat, eggs, fish and dairy, so it may be necessary for vegans and vegetarians to take a supplement.

Reach for Amino Acids

Brain cells communicate with one another via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are usually made of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. The amino acid tyrosine prompts the brain to manufacture norepinephrine and dopamine, other kinds of chemical messengers in the brain. These neurotransmitters promote energy and alertness.  In addition to meat and eggs, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables are high in amino acids.

Add Antioxidants

Individuals who eat more brightly colored fruits and leafy veggies have less cognitive decline than those who don’t.  That’s because the antioxidants in them combat free radicals and protect our neurons from damage.

Pump Some Iron

The symptoms of iron deficiency include irritability and diminished mental alertness.  Studies show that when the iron level of students increase, they concentrate better and learn better.  Iron is necessary for healthy brain tissue and adequate neurotransmitter function.  Food sources of iron include egg yolks, red meat, dark leafy vegetables, turkey, beans, and artichokes.

Get Your EFAs

The essential fatty acid DHA is the primary structural component of brain tissue, so DHA deficiency translates into brain deficiencies.  More and more research studies are recognizing the possibility that DHA has a crucial influence on neurotransmitters in the brain, helping brain cells better communicate with each other.  Asian cultures have long appreciated the brain-building effects of DHA.  In Japan, DHA is considered such an important nutrient that it is used as a nutritional supplement to enrich some foods, and students frequently take DHA pills before examinations.  Salmon and other fatty fish are a great source of DHA.  In fact, women who eat these fish during their third trimester of pregnancy have babies who tend to perform better on cognitive tasks.  DHA-fortified eggs and flax seed oil are other excellent food sources of this important essential fatty acid.

Banish Bad Fats

Looking for yet another reason to avoid processed foods?  They often contain biochemically-altered fats labeled “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the fine print on the package label.  The hydrogenation process produces trans fatty acids which can affect brain function.  The trans fats enter the cells of the central nervous system where they may compete with the action of natural fats, so that the nerves in the brain don’t function as well as they were designed to.  Filling up on the undesirable fats deters us from eating healthy fats, like nuts, olive oil, avocados and meat protein that are so beneficial to the brain.

Eliminate Food Dyes and Other Artificial Colorings

Artificial food dyes are found in practically all of the processed foods we eat.  In fact, the average person is now getting 5x the number of food dyes than anyone did 50 years ago!  There have been several studies that show food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviors like inattention, impulsivity, and overactivity in young children- so much so that European countries have already mandated that food manufacturers remove most artificial colors from food products.  The FDA is yet to make such a decision, but we are finally starting to see majors companies begin to transition to more  natural food colorings.