The Food Factor, Part 3: Energy & The Educated Eater
As professionals, when our physical energy and emotional resilience become compromised or depleted, we tend to have a pretty good idea of whom or what to attribute it to. Career-derived stress and overwhelm are shown to be major factors, and unfortunately, are difficult to address without an office-wide shift in policy or mindset. However, one energy-related aspect of your daily being that you can be in control of has scientifically proven itself to be among the most powerful of all resilience builders. It’s called nutrition. You read correctly. Simply eating the right foods, and avoiding the wrong ones, can do more than keep your figure slim and your organs healthy. When you take charge of your diet in an educated manner, you’ll experience optimum resilience.
In my recent article Adjusting Your Diet Mindset, I exposed some myths on fats and starches which proved that an energizing diet doesn’t need to be boring. Hopefully it inspired you to get more adventurous with your healthy eating. In this installment, I’m offering more advice on specific foods that promote physical and mental resilience. I’ve even included an alarming diet concern that we should all pay more attention to. Dig in, and ponder the possibilities of a renewed food mindset.
It’s undeniable: Kale is all the rage. For a leafy green that wasn’t even on most people’s radar a generation ago, it’s pretty impressive how Kale has taken over as the go-to green for health-conscious folks.
If you’ve always wanted to like kale, but just can’t find it appetizing, I have three important reasons for you to keep trying. For one, kale is among the world’s healthiest foods. It’s spilling over with essential vitamins, fiber, potassium, calcium, omega-3’s, and even protein! Secondly, kale is on the short list of the most important “brain foods”, keeping that famous grey-mattered organ in tip-top cognitive condition, and staving off mental deterioration in your later years. And the final reason is my Kale recipe, which transforms this healthy green into a delicious, nutrient-filled salad that you can consume anywhere. And the fact that the kale remains raw means it holds onto all that nutrition.
Food For Thought
As I’ve been hinting at, you can choose your foods intentionally, not just to nourish your body, but to feed your brain! Mental resilience, AKA the stuff we professionals are paid for, can be boosted by the consumption of specific brain foods. Properties such as antioxidants and good fats are the magic components in these foods that control stress-related inflammation and prompt the brain to stay focused and resilient. They include salmon, avocados, walnuts, leafy greens, beets, celery, broccoli, blueberries, dark chocolate (75% cacao or higher), extra-virgin olive oil, and in the herbs & spices department: turmeric and rosemary. Keep a moderate flow of these foods in your diet, and don’t be surprised if you literally notice a cognitive difference.
A Word On Sugar
I promised to expose a diet concern, and this one’s a doozie. In the United States, we are sugar-addicted. The average person consumes more than 126 grams of sugar per day, which is slightly more than three 12-ounce cans of soda. That’s more than twice the average sugar intake per person than in of all the 54 countries observed by the market research firm Euromonitor. That aforementioned soda, which has zero nutritional benefits, is actually one of the main contributors to this massive sugar intake.
When you consider how harmful sugar is to the body, causing the liver to push harmful fats into our bloodstream and boosting our risk of heart disease, this intake level should be considered a crisis. My advice is to cut soda out of your diet completely, and then begin to monitor your additional sugar consumption going forward. A little reframing might be in order, but this lifestyle change is within your capability. Just imagine the physical energy and resilience possibilities when you cease to become a statistic.
Next, we’re headed straight to the brain, as we take a look at a most precious resource: our mental energy.