How to Fuel Our Bodies
This information page has not been designed to tell you what you can and cannot eat and drink. That is ultimately your choice. The aim of this resource however, is to provide general information that stems from research examining the relationship between our minds, brains, bodies and the food and beverages we consume. These correlations are becoming increasingly prevalent in our Western world as we are surrounded by highly processed and fatty foods filled with additives, unhealthy preservatives and sugars.
Let’s Start with Water
Human bodies are composed of approximately 60% water
Losing even 2% of your body’s water content from dehydration can alter body temperature control, reduce motivation and increase fatigue
Your brain power is also greatly influenced by your level of hydration
Imagine the electrical activity in your brain like that of a plugged-in toaster. When thrown into a tub of water, the electricity moves that much faster and intensely
By consuming a healthy amount of water daily, we improve our mood, memory and brain power. Drinking more water can also help to relieve headaches, constipation and other physical conditions
Water consumption can also help with weight loss as it increases your metabolic rate
But how much should I drink?
The quantity of water you need daily depends on a number of different factors including your body weight, sex, age, activity level and other factors, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding
On average, it is recommended that we drink eight 8 ounce (1 cup) glasses of water a day
Some sports drinks, teas and real fruit juices can also be hydrating and count towards this daily goal (avoid drinks high in sugars... that defeats the purpose)
When is the best time to drink?
To get maximum benefits from drinking water, it should be consumed in a specific manner
Water that is taken along with food or immediately after is not ideal as it dilutes your digestive juices and makes the digestive process more difficult
For best benefits, consume around 1 cup of water immediately after getting out of bed to help hydrate all of the cells in your digestive tract. It will also help with proper elimination of waste materials
Another cup should be taken a half an hour before eating breakfast to ensure the proper hydration of cells, so that they can perform vigorously after breakfast to absorb nutrients
The next round of water intake should be one hour before lunch; not during or immediately after to ensure digestive juices are available in concentrated form to make digestion quick and effortless. This can also help to eliminate the heavy feeling, discomfort and bloating that may surface after a meal
Another cup should be consumed mid-afternoon followed by another an hour before dinner
Finally, a cup should be consumed before retiring to bed
Food as Fuel
A significant amount of growing research has examined the relationship between the foods we consume and our physical, mental and cognitive health
Beyond research on specific diets, it is imperative to first and foremost have respect for your body by LISTENING TO IT. It truly knows best and will tell us what we do and don’t need
If a particular type of food(s) makes you feel bloated, anxious, exhausted, sick to your stomach etc., then it is likely not good for you or your system
Unhealthy diets have been found to contribute to a range of neuropsychiatric and physical disorders as a result of inflammation
Some research has found that traditional diets from the Mediterranean, Japan and Scandinavia help to preserve psychological and cognitive well-being as they typically feature foods with Omega 3 fatty acids; nutrients that promote brain health
These foods include, but are not limited to: fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, lean meats in moderation, olive oil etc.
A central feature of the diet is that it is low in sugar, processed foods and fatty meats
High sugar diets can prompt inflammation and trigger other metabolic changes that in turn, impair brain function
Ordinarily, inflammation is part of the immune system’s ability to fight infection, but when it is overly aggressive, it destroys healthy tissue. Non-inflammatory diets are recommended for our brain health and overall physical health
In one study, participants who consumed poor quality diets over 4 years had a smaller left hippocampus than their peers who ate healthier
In another experiment in 2014, a 23 year old student wiped out a third of the healthy bacterial species in his gut by limiting his diet to fast food for 10 days
As about 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut, the good news is healthy dietary changes can boost your supply of serotonin and in turn, improve your mood and overall physical and mental well-being!
Hari, A. R. (2002). Water: Miracle Therapy. New Delhi: Pustak Mahal.
Stetka, B. (2016). In Search of the Optimal Brain Diet. Scientific American Mind, 27(2), 26-33. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0316-26