Tag Archives: Brain function

Health or Consequences

HealthConsequencesJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Two very important aspects of a healthy lifestyle are a nutritious diet and regular exercise.  A nutritious diet is defined as one that is balanced, but what does this mean exactly? While we might think of a balanced diet as one that includes a variety of foods, a balanced diet is meant to provide the appropriate amount of caloric energy needed to maintain the body’s energy balance. Energy balance means that daily caloric intake is equal to the calories utilized by the body to maintain proper function. A balanced diet should be high in essential nutrients found in whole foods, including fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, and low in undesirable high sodium processed foods, unhealthy fats, junk foods, and sugar.

Why is a balanced diet so important for health?

While occasional indulgence of low-nutrient foods may not be problematic, even a short term unhealthy diet can have negative health consequences. Unhealthy eating means consuming excess calories, consuming empty calorie foods that have little or no nutritive value, and consuming foods known to be hazardous to health, such as fried foods, sugary drinks, and low fiber highly processed foods. While a balanced diet includes foods that provide the most nourishment for the calories they contain, an imbalanced diet may result in nutritional deficiencies, weight gain, and a compromised immune system. Without proper nutrition, the body is prone to infection, fatigue, disease and poor performance. The core of a balanced diet includes foods that are low in unnecessary sugars and refined carbohydrates and high in whole food nutrients.

Short-term effects of an unhealthy diet:

Brain function – The brain requires sufficient nutrients, such as glucose, healthy fats and antioxidants, for nourishment and normal functioning. A diet lacking in proper nutrients can result in reduced alertness, as well as poor memory and concentration. While vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and phytonutrients may protect memory and slow age-related cognitive decline, a diet high in processed foods and sugars is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress and accelerated cognitive decline.

Energy – A balanced diet keeps energy levels steady, while sugary and refined foods provide a burst of energy followed by an energy slump. Poor diets are often deficient in nutrients and enzymes that support mitochondrial energy production and oxygen transport, such as B vitamins, CoQ10 and iron. Inadequate nutrients can result in poor muscle strength, endurance, and coordination, as well as physical weakness.

Mood – A healthy diet can support memory, balance brain chemistry, and stabilize blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes and crashes are associated with mood swings, crankiness and depression. Good nutrition is necessary for the production and proper function of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, that promote positive mood and regulate sleep.

Sleep – Good nutrition aids the production of neurotransmitters necessary for adequate sleep and provides the nutrients that build amino acids also involved in sleep. Studies show that eating less fiber and more unhealthy fats and sugars during the day may result in interrupted less restorative sleep. Poor sleep patterns are linked to higher rates of obesity and metabolic diseases, while good nutrient choices can optimize circadian rhythm and keep all bodily functions running on schedule.

Skin health – We may not think about feeding our skin, but those who want healthy, glowing skin should optimize their nutrition and hydration. Nutrient dense foods supply the vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed to build the collagen and elastin that keep skin strong and supple. Sufficient protein is essential for repair and replacement of new, healthy skin cells. Foods high in antioxidants help protect cells from sun damage and fight free radicals that break down collagen over time. A diet rich in vitamins, A, D, C and E as well as phytonutrients appears to have a beneficial effect on promoting and protecting skin health.

Digestive discomfort – Digestive distress can be a sign of a low dietary fiber intake. Whole foods rich in soluble and insoluble fiber keep the digestive system running smoothly and support balanced healthy microflora. Poor digestion can wreak havoc on the body, mood and sense of wellbeing. Elimination of chemical laden, highly processed foods and sugars can help keep gut microflora healthy and well-balanced, thereby reducing discomfort and improving nutrient absorption.

In the long term, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise and maintaining a proper weight can add healthy years to your life and reduce the risk of certain diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity. In the short-term it can also make you feel and look your best, give you more energy, improve sleep and digestion, and help maintain a healthy weight.

Professional Supplement Center carries many high quality products in support of good nutrition and overall wellness:

CoQ10 100 mgCoQ10 100 mg by Professional Supplement Center: This product supplies highly bioavailable CoQ10, an important antioxidant that aids carbohydrate metabolism, oxygen utilization and cellular energy production. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

DFH Complete Multi...DFH Complete Multi™ with Copper (Iron-Free) by Designs for Health®: This full-spectrum multivitamin with Albion chelated minerals provides highly absorbable bioavailable nutrients in support of optimal wellness.

 

Enzyme Nutrition...Enzyme Nutrition™ Multi-vitamin for Men by Enzymedica: Designed to meet the unique needs of men, this whole food multi contains Enzyme Activated Nutrients™ plus Thera-blend™ enzymes that enhance the utilization of the nutrients. The formula also includes certified organic superfoods and botanicals as well as guaranteed potency probiotics. Gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, preservative and artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO formulation. Also available: Enzyme Nutrition™ Multi-Vitamin for Women.

 

Digestive Enzymes...Digestive Enzymes Ultra by Pure Encapsulations®: This high-strength mixture of vegetarian enzymes supports enhanced protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, and dairy digestion, and promotes optimal nutrient bioavailability and absorption. Gluten free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic vegetarian formulation.

References:
A healthy, balanced diet.   https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/healthydiet/healthybalanceddiet.html
Short-Term Effects of Bad Eating Habits. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/short-term-effects-bad-eating-habits-2579.html
Short-Term Effects of Good Eating. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/shortterm-effects-good-eating-11400.html
What is the Difference Between a Balanced Diet & an Unbalanced Diet?  http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/differencee-between-balanced-diet-unbalanced-diet-10916.html
Balanced Diet. https://www.healthline.com/health/balanced-diet#Overview1
Eating to boost energy. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/eating-to-boost-energy
Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
How What You Eat Affects Your Sleep. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/how-what-you-eat-affects-how-you-sleep-ncna805256

 

Are You Getting Enough Potassium?

PotassiumJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

One very important key to wellness is potassium sufficiency. Essential for good health at the most basic level, potassium is critical for the proper functioning of all cells, tissues and organs. Potassium is not stored in the body and must be obtained through a healthy diet of potassium-rich foods and supplementation as needed. Although the Institute of Medicine and the USDA recommend 4700 mg of potassium per day, and the World Health Organization recommends an even lower amount of 3600 mg per day, the typical American falls far short with an average intake of 2640 mg per day, about half of what is needed to support overall heath and avoid potassium deficiency.

Unfortunately, one of the many problems with the standard American diet (SAD) is that only a very small percentage of the population actually consumes the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables daily to ensure proper amounts of potassium. The SAD diet tends to include fast foods, processed foods and restaurant foods, that unfortunately are high in sodium and very low in potassium and other essential nutrients. Excessive sodium intake negatively affects fluid homeostasis and puts extra strain on the kidneys, which must filter the blood and control fluid levels. A quality diet rich in potassium helps to offset the negative hypertensive effects of processed salt.

Electrolyte balance – As an electrolyte, potassium helps to conduct electrical charges within the body and maintains the balance between the electrical and chemical processes that support vital functions. Along with sodium and other electrolytes, potassium helps to regulate the balance of body fluids, which affects nerve signaling and muscle contraction and impacts the cardiovascular system.

Stroke prevention – Research shows that potassium-rich diets reduce stroke risk for both men and for women, who are particularly at risk of dying from stroke. Potassium acts as a vasodilator, which helps blood vessels to relax and allows blood to flow more freely, thereby reducing the risk of clotting that can cause stroke.

Brain function – High levels of potassium allow more oxygen to reach the brain, supporting cognitive function and stimulating neural activity. Potassium plays a key role in maintaining electrical conductivity of the brain, and helps to moderate and regulate electrical transmissions throughout the body.

Cardiovascular health – Low potassium levels can cause heart rhythm disturbances and muscle weakness. Research has shown that those who are at the greatest risk of developing cardiovascular disease are those whose diets are both high in sodium and low in potassium. Those who consume too much salt and too little potassium are more than twice as likely to succumb to a heart attack.

Blood pressure support – Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by helping the body to secrete sodium, balancing out the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure. Potassium is a crucial mineral for regulating and supporting healthy blood pressure, as studies have shown that low potassium intake is linked to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. To reduce high blood pressure, lower sodium intake while increasing potassium consumption.

Bone Health – Existing evidence suggests that a potassium-rich diet positively affects bone-mineral density, especially in older women. Studies show that when potassium intake increases, urinary calcium excretion decreases, leading to improved bone mineralization.

Muscle Function – Sufficient potassium is required for normal muscle contraction and relaxation. Potassium helps to maintain optimal nerve and muscle function and supports natural reflexes by stimulating neural connectivity of the muscles and the brain. Low potassium levels are linked to muscle spasm and leg cramps. Sufficient potassium intake make help prevent cramping and painful spasms.

Potassium deficiency may be an underlying side effect of a medical condition. If you are taking medications or have a medical condition, please consult a healthcare practitioner before supplementing. Individuals taking ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers or potassium-sparing diuretics may require monitoring of potassium levels.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support overall wellness:

Potassium (citrate)Potassium (Citrate) by Pure Encapsulations – This product supplies 200 mg of potassium citrate, along with vitamin C, in support of numerous physiological functions, nutrient metabolism, muscle function, and cardiovascular health. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.

 

PotassiumPotassium by Nutritional Frontiers – This combination formula provides 99 mg of potassium aspartate, along with niacin and vitamin B6, in support of optimal utilization and absorption for proper nerve and cardio functions. Gluten free vegetarian formulation.

 

Potassium-HP (With...Potassium-HP™ (with magnesium) – This high potency powdered formula provides 1200 mg of potassium citrate and 120 mg of magnesium citrate. It is intended for use solely under the advice and guidance of a healthcare practitioner. Gluten and dairy free formulation.

 

Potassium Citrate 99...Potassium Citrate by Now Foods – This well absorbed and highly bioavailable formula provides 99 mg of potassium citrate in support of electrolyte mineral balance and nervous system function. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.

 

Potassium Citrate...Potassium Citrate 400 by Biospec Naturals – This formula provides a clinical dose of potassium citrate along with citric acid in support of critical bodily functions, proper metabolism, cardiac function and energy production. Suitable for vegetarians.

 

References:
Health Benefits of Potassium. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/minerals/health-benefits-of-potassium.html
The #1 Nutrient You Need To Avoid A Stroke. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-1-nutrient-you-need-to-avoid-a-stroke_us_57b74acfe4b0b51733a34ff8?section=&
Minerals of life – sodium and potassium. http://guardian.ng/features/natural-health/minerals-of-life-sodium-and-potassium/
5 Minerals for Better Health: Minerals. http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/vitamin-e-and-health-five-minerals-for-the-body.aspx?PageId=3#ArticleContent
Potassium & Heart Health. http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3840/IFIC_PotassimFactSheet_FINAL%20(2).pdf
What Are the Benefits of Getting Enough Potassium? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-getting-enough-potassium-2035.html