Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harmony through a Healthy Diet

In traditional Chinese medicine, “chi” is essential for good health. It represents a perfect balance, a state of equilibrium within your body, mind and soul. Within all of us there is the potential for perfect harmony, though we sometimes ignore the obvious relation between our body parts and especially the effect of diet on our brain. It’s this connection, which exists between our mind and our diet that we all need to recognize.

Nutrition for Your Brain

Imagine streams of synapses making electrochemical connections, enabling us to complete everyday tasks or make complex decisions. The food that we ingest is the fuel that provides the energy for those connections to exist. Everything we consume acts as a pharmaceutical compound that affects your brain negatively or positively. We’ve all witnessed (or personally experienced) of how some recreational drugs impair your cognitive functions. The reverse is true for proper nutrition. Every aspect of how we react, sense and process complicated tasks are directly related to what we place in our gullet.

Essential Fatty Acids

Not all of us can control when, where and what we eat. Our daily lives are busy, with tight schedules and precious little time to reflect on our intake. The adage, “you are what you eat” holds true as many of us find the convenience of fast food irresistible. It’s the oils and additives that are used in the manufacturing of fast foods that are the most harmful to your body and your brain. That’s where nutritional supplements come in handy. Your brain is rich in two essential fatty acids, both of which provide a vital role in contributing to the “chi” factor mentioned earlier. One form is omega-3 fatty acids which are found in flax, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and some cold water fish like salmon and tuna. The other kind of fat needed for healthy brain cells is omega 6 fatty acids found in oils, like sunflower, corn, sesame and safflower. The later can be harmful if taken in excess, e.g. diets rich in hydrogenated fats and fried foods.


No, they’re not acronyms for federal regulatory bodies, but they are indispensable in regulating your brain. When your body lacks the essential fatty acids it needs, it will build replacement fatty acids which are similar though not at all healthy. So, it’s important to use DHA and EPA supplements if your diet doesn’t include foods rich in these two essential fatty acids. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids are obtained by food and quality dietary supplements. Once eaten, the body coverts these acids to DHA and EPA, which are readily used by the brain.

All Natural is Better

Foods that contain these nutrients are available in most food stores. Though shopping for the freshest and safest product can be time-consuming and not very practical. Most "Big Box" food store employees don’t have the nutritional expertise to offer reliable advice. On the other hand, Natural food stores that sell organic products generally have a broad understanding of the nutritional products they sell. Mother Earth Storehouses in the Hudson Valley New York with three stores in Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Saugerties ( and is one of the areas oldest health food store with a knowledgeable staff that is well-versed on the latest in nutritional news. In addition to popular name brand supplements, they sell a complete line of their own supplements and vitamins. Along with their all natural organic supplements, they carry many DHA-fortified dairy products like milk and yogurt and algae-derived DHA vegetarian food products and supplements.

Harmony can be found, though you need to eat well, exercise and give your body all the nutrition it needs for healthy “chi”.

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