There are so many components to living our best life, to be being the best version of ourselves all our days on this Earth.
“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will tell you, I came to live out LOUD.” – Émile Zola
Being intentional, living with purpose, seeking balance, building relationships, staying physically and mentally fit – all of these and more are areas we might find ourselves focusing on (and struggling with) at different points in our lives in order to build the best version of ourselves.
Quick: Jot down 3 things you are doing that help you live a long and fulfilling life. Getting enough rest? Staying cognitively fit? Building your relationship network? Good!
Now, jot down three areas you need to work on. Maybe you need to focus on being positive, increasing your physical fitness, or maybe, like a lot of us, you need to improve your diet for optimal health.
Now, I didn’t say that you should GO on a diet to improve your health. This isn’t about jumping on the latest fad, drinking celery shakes or onion broth and watching your weight yo-yo back and forth while you essentially starve yourself for brief time periods. No. THAT is not your best life!
A diet is simply the food you put into your body, and to achieve optimal health, you should choose foods that will improve your brain health and potentially increase your lifespan. Recent studies show what some professionals in the medical field have said for years: As goes the brain, so goes the body. Ultimately, it all comes back to the brain.
Keeping your brain nourished – eating foods that will power the engine that helps regulate your every thought, action, and feeling – this is a vital step to creating your best, healthiest life. There is an abundance of evidence that we must eat strategically to support our brain health, which will, in turn, support our overall health and play a part in longevity. The old adage, “You are what you eat?” (need affiliate link) Turns out modern science and popular culture agree!
There are so many choices on how to best implement the diet that will give you optimal health, and I refer to this diet as Strategic Nutrition. I don’t believe that there is one absolute plan that is right for everyone, but that instead, you need to choose what’s best for you. Visit your doctor, nutritionist, or another qualified health professional and discuss your personal issues, goals, and health concerns to gain insight on what the best diet for you might look like. Crack open a book or two (or ten!) to help you choose a path for strategic nutrition for your body and your brain.
I personally have learned over decades of meeting with nutritionists, reading, listening to health shows, and trial and error that sugar is the silent killer. Sometimes I go through periods where I’m addicted to it, and really, it’s a constant battle I wage. I’ve also stopped digesting dairy products easily, so I’ve begun to take digestives and probiotics regularly. I find wheat products put me to sleep, so I prefer to eat quinoa and rice crackers or pumpernickel bread. Dietary adjustments may happen slowly over time, or there may be a health event that forces you to look at your food intake and make drastic changes overnight.
Just look at what your body is telling you – are you sluggish at 1pm or do you have plenty of energy from morning until night? Tweak your diet to find your ideal strategic nutrition, and listen to how your body responds. Eating strategically gives your brain the foods it needs, and this will pay you back in dividends for the rest of your life.
I’d like to be clear that strategic nutrition does not mean eating without taste, joy, or excitement. While I want to fuel my brain, I want to enjoy my food, too! To that end, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen cultivating recipes that fuel my brain and body, but are also delicious and flavorful. I’d love to share one of my favorite Brain Fit Recipes with you:
Quinoa Lentil Salad ala Alli
Recipe and photo
Alli Berman is a Brain Fitness expert and the Eye Brain Fitness Guru. She has been an artist, author, educator, creativity consultant, workshop leader, perceptual and sensory products and programs developer, and motivational speaker for the past 30+ years. Berman has served as an educational advisor to the American Academy for Anti-Aging Medicine for over 30 years, and she is the founder of The Art of Rehabilitation and Anti-Aging Art. She created the PuzzleArt Therapy System in collaboration with behavioral optometrist, Susan Fisher, OD, and through consultation with neuroscientists around the world. Berman uses the system herself on a daily basis to keep her own brain as healthy, engaged, and challenged as possible!