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Brain Foods Week 4

"The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison" - Ann Wigmore

There is no denying that we are entering a completely new time period in the world’s history. In fact, more news and updates are happening by the minute and all of us are at risk for getting sick. While this can be scary and overwhelming, today’s final post on brain foods just so happens to be focused on a nutrient that plays a critical role in our immune systems: flavonoids. Flavonoids are a fancy name for chemicals that are often responsible for the bright colors in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat regularly.

Specifically within the brain, flavonoids are critical for our health. They work to prevent cell death and promote cell growth within the hippocampus. For the majority of readers who do not know what the hippocampus is, this is the brain region dedicated to our memory.

Therefore, when flavonoids work to increase cell production and overall health in the hippocampus, we are benefitting our memories both in the short term and in the long term by delaying onset of memory-affected diseases such as Alzheimers. Furthermore, this nutrient plays a role in our brain’s ability to learn and increase cognitive functioning by increasing the messages between neurons that our brain sends.

Now onto the real reason all of you are reading today’s post: flavonoids are chemicals that can benefit our immune systems. Since this chemical acts similarly to antioxidants, we can all boost our systems by making sure that we are getting enough in our diets. Antioxidants work to reduce inflammation throughout our bodies. In general, inflammation is our body’s natural response to harmful things. This makes sense, since most of us are familiar with the physical swelling we can see after injuries. The same thing happens internally. Thus, when foreign molecules enter our body (ex: germs), we naturally experience inflammation. If this inflammation becomes too much, this is when we say we are sick. For example, when we get the common cold and we cannot fight it off, we experience inflammation through a swollen and congested nose. In our everyday lives, we are exposed to chemicals that threaten to get us sick, so our immune system works around the clock to make sure that these foreign molecules don’t affect us externally. It is only when our immune systems are run down or not able to fight a foreign molecule that we call ourselves sick. Therefore, if we want to boost our immune systems and help our bodies fight off the various chemicals we are exposed to, we can do so by making sure we get flavonoids regularly. In essence, the more antioxidants and flavonoids that we get in our bodies, the better chance we have of fighting off various infections or viruses going around (hint hint).

The best places to find flavonoids are in foods and drinks such as teas, dark chocolate, berries, apples, dark greens such as kale, and citrus fruits. Make sure to get these foods in your regular diet to give your immune system an extra boost. If there was ever a time that you needed to do so, I would say now is that time.

With everything going on due to coronavirus and the constant changes that we are experiencing, our bodies are already experiencing stress, whether we feel it or not. On top of all of that, most of us do not know the everyday chemicals and toxins that enter our bodies and threaten our immune systems. Lots happens internally on a normal day, so with the additional coronavirus and stress associated with it, we have no idea what our bodies may be experiencing. Therefore, do yourself a favor and watch the news with a glass of hot tea, eat dark chocolate, or add berries and citrus fruits to breakfast or snacks. Your body will thank you tremendously.

See you next week for another article on the immune system in general and how the foods we eat can boost our ability to fight off foreign molecules.

Betsy Blitch, 3/17/20

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