Tips for a Healthier Heart and Brain

As a former management consultant turned coach and wellness advocate, I know that we can dramatically affect our aging process.

I have been working in the nutrition field for over a decade, and know that we can simultaneously work on our heart health AND our brain health because they are both dramatically affected by our overall cardiovascular health.

In this post, I will share some nutrition tips for your cardiovascular health (yes, a healthier heart and brain!).

I believe that brain and heart health is also emotional.  I'll talk about a modality called Brainspotting and share an interview with you that I recently conducted with Brainspotting expert and peak performance coach Paige Roberts. Paige herself recovered from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and is on a mission to apply unique modalities such as Brainspotting, QEEG and red light therapy to help heal the brains of athletes and executives.

How to Eat for a Healthier Heart (and Brain)
I will share with you the top 10 (actually 11) heart-and-brain-healthy foods, thanks to the wonderful contributions of Juliette Britton, RD (who you can listen to on episode 18 of my podcast, Mountain Mantras: Wellness and Life Lessons). Here are the top foods* —  stay tuned for great recipe ideas in each category:

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Salmon
  3. Avocado
  4. Olive Oil
  5. Nuts
  6. Berries
  7. Legumes
  8. Spinach
  9. Flaxseed
  10. Soy
  11. Chocolate**

*Source:  Health Magazine “10 Best Foods for your Heart”
**Source:  Juliette (thank you, Juliette, for adding chocolate!)

A note on Healthy Heart Food  #10: Soy. Go looking for some non-GMO edamame as soy as a food category can be pretty mucked-up in our current food chain.

A note on Healthy Heart Food #11: Chocolate!  I loved that Juliette added this to the list, but enjoy in moderation, and dark only.

In terms of healthy heart and brain health, you can also incorporate the color red into your diet.

In my work as a nutrition educator with Nurture, one of the most impactful events we have with schools is a RAINBOW DAY. We get the kids excited about eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies. The kids learn that each color from mother earth is very important for your body.

Do you know what the color RED does for your body?

See Blake (the character from my children's book series, Give it a Go, Eat a Rainbow) hugging the tomatoes at the left?

Yes, red is very good for your heart.

Tomatoes are high in a compound called Lycopene.  Dr. Andrew Weil provides a great definition of Lycopene:

“Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, which means that, among nutrients, it has a greater-than-average ability to “quench” free radicals that cause damage to cells. Excessive free radical damage has been implicated in the development of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many cancers, as well as accelerated aging. Lycopene is a carotenoid, responsible for giving many fruits and vegetables – especially tomatoes – their red color.  It is also abundant in red carrots, watermelons, papayas, and pink grapefruit”. (Source:  Dr. Andrew Weil)

Read more about a study of 126 men who demonstrated a significant reduction in heart health risk metrics (CRP, a marker for inflammation, is one of them) after taking Lycopene supplements.

How to Use Brain-Based Modalities such as Brainspotting for Healthier Brain (and Heart)

I've been writing a lot about Brainspotting as I complete my rigorous training to become a Certified Brainspotting Practioner. In this post, I explain “where you look affects how you feel”.

Brainspotting is very simply about clearing out the emotional and subconscious obstacles so that you can be the best version of yourself.

When I interviewed Paige Roberts, I was impressed by her “come-back story” after having multiple injuries and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It was difficult for Paige's brain to heal because she was not able to sleep. After her own recovery and finding her life purpose (to help others with similar problems), she works with athletes and executives to bring them back from injuries to achieve peak performance. Listen to the interview with Paige here.

Another important aspect of this interview is our discussion of “trauma” which can be in the form of emotional trauma as well as physical. You can tell from our discussion in the interview that both Paige and I were a bit in denial about whether or not we experienced trauma in our lives, preferring to “run it off” (both of us are serious runners) or diminish our perceived significance of “traumatic” events. After doing many trainings on Brainspotting myself, I know that it is nearly impossible to go through human existence without experiencing trauma. We all have some, and we all can heal from it.

Take some time to think about how you can heal your heart and brain both from the outside-in (through nutrition) as well as inside-out (through emotional healing). Your heart and brain will thank you!

 

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