Naturally when you are involved in a non-mainstream health field as I am (well, hypnotherapy is getting there) we meet with people from all manner of backgrounds with a variety of interests… WHilst training for this years marathon and having consistently larger demands placed upon me thrpough my busy working schedule… I need to be on the ball, and as well as taking tips from just about every kind of written media in magazines and newspapers on nutrition, I have sought advice on nutrition, read books and studied as a hobby how nutrition can enhance my brain mental faculties.

I find it fascinating. Food is an essential part of my success strategy today…. Or if I put it another way, if I was not consuming the right stuff for my brain, I’d be a mess (ahem, some might say ‘bigger’ mess).

I thought I’d share with you some of that stuff that I find essential to feeding your brain and have it functioning to its best, because hypnosis alone is not always going to have you being the finely honed brainy being that many of us like to think we are… Firstly, I’d order you to ensure you eat breakfast.

Children and students of all varying types that eat breakfast perform far, far better on academic tests. I know loads of people say they just don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning, but it is a habit I strongly advise you get into… Having a good breakfast advances your ability to concentrate, it makes you more alert and creative, and results in far more productive mornings than those who muddle their way through and finally declare themselves awake at lunchtime.

Anything does tend to be better than nothing, but more effort needs to go into it than having tea and toast as you run out the door. For maximal morning alertness and staying power, you need to include some protein, which can come in the form of yoghurt, eggs, milk or fresh fish, I often have protein powder in my morning smoothie… Athletes, marathon runners or those looking to reduce weight and build up muscle would be advised to eat protein at least first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after working out… Everyone else need consider including some in every meal.

Secondly, you want to look out for your coffee consumption. Our brains do actually seem to like coffee as much as we do: research shows that regular coffee consumption may protect against developing dementias such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Having a cup of coffee does improve your reaction time, can give you a burst of energy, and may help you concentrate more sharply. However, one cup too much can push you past optimal concentration and performance and into the jitters. Pay attention to how much coffee your body and mind prefer, before automatically pouring yourself another cup… The continuous drip feeding of the stuff may be to your detriment.

Thirdly, consider getting the right fats for your brain. I once heard an expert on psychiatric nutrition describe the relationship between fats and the brain. Our brains are more than 60% fat, and the nerve cells in our brain are constantly renewing their cell membranes. Unhealthy fats (i.e. saturated animal fats, or trans fats found in deep-fried foods) are made up of stiff poor quality fatty acids. When you eat these, they insert themselves into your nerve cell membranes. The result: your brain cells get stiffer than they should be and can’t function optimally.

If you feed your brain healthy fatty acids, such as the omega-3 fatty acids from salmon and other fatty fish, these make your cell membranes more flexible and fluid, boosting your brain power and even your mood. Omega-3 fatty acids are arguably the best miracle food for your brain. They enhance memory, and slow age-related cognitive decline. Lack of omega-3’s can cause depression and memory problems, and may worsen symptoms of ADD. Even a good quality supplement is consideration if you do not get enough.

Do look at what kinds of carbohydrates you eat. Glucose is pure brain food. Your brain’s only true fuel is the sugar glucose. When you eat carbohydrates, they get broken down into the simplest sugar (glucose) in the body, causing a rise in your blood sugar. This can provide a short-term boost to your memory and mental ability, but you don’t want to overdo it: too many high-glycemic carbs, such as a big plate of pasta or potatoes at lunch, can make you sleepy and harm performance. Your best bet is to eat healthy, wholegrain, high-fibre carbohydrate snacks throughout the day. Don’t wait too long between meals and snacks, as low blood sugar can dramatically affect memory and mental speed, and your ability to handle stress.

As you fly through your day, make it a habit to check in nutritionally with yourself every couple of hours. Choose foods that support your mind, and make it a great day!

My brain function is about to be tested heavily again… I am running my hypnotherapy training diploma this weekend… I’ll be back on Monday…