Better Brain & Healthy Aging For Life
Your body is a magnificent thing. It is made up of the very elements that make up the universe such as iron, calcium, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, selenium, tin, and more for example.
In order for your body to be its best, it needs a steady supply of the very building blocks that allowed it to come to be. You get those from what you choose to eat and drink. Nutrient-dense, whole foods, the foodstuffs that have been part of the human diet for eons does this. Most of the food-like products found in the modern diet and food landscape do not.
Much of the dialogue around diet has focused on calories, weight loss, protein, and vitamins and minerals within the context of avoiding deficiencies. Far too little focus has been on diet quality. In our moderns times, we focus mostly on calories and trying not to demonize food so we say things like “all foods fit”, “there are no good foods or bad foods” etc.
While I appreciate why we do this it has led us to believe that as long as we eat a relatively ‘healthy’ diet, we’re good to go and that diet has done all that it can do when it comes to restoring and maintaining health. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Diet quality can do more than prevent deficiencies.
Eating a nutrient-dense diet that contains more nutrients than what official guidelines tell us to consume is the foundation of optimal health and well-being and this is no truer when it comes to good brain and mental health, and having optimal health for the long-run. This is NOT a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact.
Nourishing your brain, healing your mind
You simply cannot your best possible emotional, psychological, or spiritual self if you don’t address the biology of your brain – you have more control over this than you realize.
What you eat and drink directly affects the structure [anatomy] of your brain and structure, in turn, influences function [physiology & biochemistry], not only in terms of your risk for physical brain diseases such as dementia but also your mood and other mental health disorders.
Improving the quality of your diet will put you in the best possible position to have the best mental health that you can achieve. It really is that straightforward.
When it comes to supporting mental health, whether that’s your own or someone you know, you’ll simply get more ‘bang for your buck’ when the brain is fed properly. Whether you choose medications and/or talk therapy (ideal treatment should include counselling), the best results are found with a nourished brain.
It’s well understood that consciousness is created from, and centered in the brain, nervous tissue, and yes, even the gut. Until the underlying physiology is optimal, we cannot expect to be mentally fine-tuned.
People ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter, and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs, and tears. Through it, in particular, we think, see, hear and distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, the bad from the good, the pleasant from the unpleasant. It is the same thing which makes us mad or delirious, inspires us with fear, brings sleeplessness, and aimless anxieties. In these ways, I hold that the brain is the most powerful organ in the human body.
Chronological age versus biological age
Your chronological age is the amount of time that has passed from your birth to the given date. It’s your age in terms of years, months, days, etc. This is the primary way people define their age.
It’s also a primary risk factor for chronic diseases, mortality, and any impairments to bodily functions, such as hearing and memory.
The basic idea behind biological age is that aging occurs as you gradually accumulate damage to various cells and tissues in the body.
Also known as physiological or functional age, biological age differs from chronological age because it takes into consideration a number of factors other than just the day you were born.
The actual number comes down to different biological and physiological development factors. Some of these include:
- Chronological age
- Genetics (for example, how quickly your body’s antioxidant defenses kick in)
- Lifestyle (stress, sleep, alcohol use, smoking, drug use, etc.)
- Nutrition (diet & supplements)
- Diseases and other conditions
Using these guidelines along with various mathematical models, medical professionals & researchers can figure out what age your body “acts” like it is. While chronological age is a factor of your “biological”, you may not end up having the same biological age as your chronological age.
For example, two people of the same age, say 55 years old, could be drastically different on a functional level. If for the previous 30 years, one person smoked, drank alcohol regularly, didn’t exercise, had a poor quality diet, and was under a lot of stress, they would appear to be older in all measures than someone who did the opposite.
If a series of tests were done: lung function test, stress test, exercise endurance, and various medical tests like insulin resistance, blood lipids (triglycerides, LDL & HDL cholesterol), blood pressure, blood level scans, immune cell function, liver health status tests, telomere length, etc, and the results were reviewed, the 55-year-old would have results that one would expect from someone 10 or more years younger.
The science of anti-aging, or as it’s sometimes referred to as, longevity medicine and nutrition, is all about leveraging the very tools that can help to slow down the aging process which aims to keep both the physical structure of your cells and tissues intact throughout life, as well as to ensure optimal cellular energy production, repair, and maintenance, and youthful functioning.
Other nutrition counseling
While the focus of my practice is on brain & mental health, and longevity nutrition, I still counsel people on general healthy eating, the nutritional management of other chronic diseases (diabetes, cholesterol/triglycerides, bone health, kidney/renal, oncology, anti-inflammatory nutrition, etc), eating for activity but not high-level sports nutrition. I DO NOT counsel on weight loss, that is best done by someone with appropriate counselling specifically for weight management.
Brace yourself though, you will not get the standard, unhelpful advice such as ‘all foods fit’, ‘variety, balance, & moderation’, or be told that ‘there’s not enough proof to try a new approach’ to your health concerns.
The theories, ideas, research and steps to healing found on this site will be new to most readers – both those seeking help and those in the health field. While there is a large and growing body of robust data and literature that challenges the status quo, it’s simply not ‘main stream’ – yet. I use an integrative & functional approach to nutritional therapy that focuses on identifying root causes and imbalances versus chasing symptoms in order to significantly improve health. The nutritional recommendations are evidence-informed, likely novel, and safe.
To be clear, you’re in the right place if you’re one of the countless people who have been unable to get help from traditional medical approaches. Join the revolution and discover how food, nutrition and targeted supplementation can heal and nourish your brain and improve your mood and mental well-being whether you have chronic mental illness, want to improve your brain function now, and into the future.
You’re also in the right place if you want to take the steering wheel and take control over how you age because you KNOW that your chronological age (years lived) DOES NOT necessarily reflect your biological age (robustness of underlying physical health).
To find out what nutritional coaching service is the right for you, click here
Doug Cook RDN, Integrative & Functional Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian