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A Diet for Body and Brain

Nutritional Guidelines for Effective Athletes

© 2014 Kelly Smith; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Organic coconut oil

Conventional weight-loss diets are usually base on some gimmick. Some of them really do work. The South Shore and the Atkins diets are two good examples that are of the low-carbohydrate variety. The problem that most people encounter is that after they lose the weight it all comes back because they can’t stick to the lifestyle. Typical human behavior.

But what we are concerned with are athletes, specifically runners. Should runners diet? No, they should not diet in the conventional sense but they should follow a diet that not only promotes athletic performance but keeps the brain in top shape as well.

Unfortunately, the word diet has two meanings and they should not be confused. The tabloid definition is usually a calorie-restriction regimen that may or may not have a fitness component. The other definition is the one that we are concerned with. Its focus is on nutrition, not calorie-counting, regardless of whether weight-loss is part of the goal or not.

Nutritional Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

Here are the basic things to focus on. Always try to eat organic whenever possible.

  • A variety of vegetables. Pick different colors to ensure a spectrum of nutrients.
  • Healthy fats. Fat gets a bad rap but the truth is that the body and brain needs it. Incorporate avocados, nuts, and fish like salmon into your diet. With fish, go for wild-caught rather than farm raised. Did you know that some farm-raised salmon fillets are actually died orange to look like the real thing?
  • Dairy, meat and eggs. For meat, grass-fed beef and bison are good choices. Free-range chicken eggs are more nutritious than their industrial cousins.
  • Grains and legumes that are low on the glycemic index. This makes for long-lasting, slow-burning energy.
  • NO processed food if you can avoid it. They have too much sodium and mystery additives.
  • NO sugar if you can avoid it. Read the label. Avoid high fructose corn syrup. If you want to sweeten your coffee or tea, try stevia.

Nutrition for Your Body and Brain

There is an abundance of information today about nutritional foods for your body. Really, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some. But the sweet spot is where foods benefit both the body and brain. Consider these:

  • Coconut oil. It is hard to miss this one; it is the latest superfood and it seems to be good for everything from a hair conditioner to resistance to both viruses and bacteria. But not often mentioned is the possibility that it can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Omega-3. We know how good Omega-3 is for the heart but it also appears to reduce the effect of aging on the brain. It helps you to retain learned knowledge and specific facts.
  • Blueberries. These are not only tasty but are full of antioxidants that reduce inflammation and encourage circulation.
  • Dark chocolate (85% cocoa minimum). The flavanols are strong antioxidants. It helps the brain by protecting and supporting the dentate gyrus.
  • Eggs. This is a great source of choline, a necessary precursor for acetylcholine, a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other cells.
  • Walnuts. These nuts have been called an “anti-Alzheimer’s” food because of an abundance of vitamins B and E plus Omega-3.

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