Which is the most important nutrient?

At the start of each semester, I pose the question: which is the most important nutrient?

I was asked a version of that question last week: what nutrients does the brain need?

Before reading further, pause a minute. How would you answer both questions?

In class, guys typically say protein is most important. Others mention water as its lack will cause death sooner than the other nutrients.

In the case of the brain question, the two nutrients trying to be solicited was water (or fluid) and omega-3 fatty acids.

I couldn’t get drawn into that. The brain, like all the organs in our body need ALL the nutrients.

Looking at specific nutrients and their effects in the body yields exciting headlines, but doesn’t typically give us super health. The picture is further muddied if we talk about nutrients in pill form!! In nutrition, we need to look at the whole picture. Translated: whole foods. 

There are most likely thousands of yet undiscovered compounds in whole foods that help the body work in an optimal way. If we focus on a single vitamin or mineral perhaps we’re missing a vital co-factor or precursor.

In this country, our obsessive attention to “small” details, or a single nutrient, misses the big picture.

The most important nutrient is all of them. Without a single nutrient you will die; an excess of a single nutrient will also cause death.

Best for the brain? You guessed it, all of the nutrients are key. Whatever diet is necessary for good circulation will be good for the brain. Let’s see that would be whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy and lean protein sources. Avoiding added sugars is advised.

Your brain is not an organ in isolation. Eat well so your whole body, including your brain, can be well,

Marcia

PS Yes, I noticed the croissant in the picture, but it was too cute (and delicious) not to use the photo!!

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Change

I’ve just finished a week of training at MindCAP a Feuerstein Training Center – examining how we think. It reminded me of a college (!) prof who asked me, “how do we know what we know”? All these years later, I still ponder that.

This program rigorously explores the idea through cognitive exercise. And yes, my brain is tired!

Our instructor, the brilliant and gracious Greta, had an even more remarkable quality – endless patience wrapped up in positive energy which served as encouragement to learn more. And to take that information and apply it!

While I will share a couple specifics today, BRIDGING some Feuerstein concepts to our food, nutrition and health talk, I believe my brain is changed. And I hope I can help you change your thinking about your diet.

Greta said, “No one is ever stuck.” And then elaborates that is true IF you want to change and you BELIEVE you can. So, that made me think of people who state food absolutes:

  • I’m never hungry for breakfast
  • I don’t have time to eat right
  • My kids hate vegetables so I’ve stopped serving them
  • I can never lose those last five pounds
  • I have this enormous sweet tooth so I’ll never lose weight

The best and only place to start is where you are. What are your habits now? Record them. Consider them. Honestly, you can’t make a plan without having relevant input. Do your homework on you before making a plan to be well.

Marcia

PS We’ve talked food journaling before – pencil and paper, phone app, web entries…I typically say format doesn’t matter. Perhaps it does. Go old school with that journal this time and find a pencil!

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