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At some point in our lives, most of us have tried to eat better. But while we regularly change what we eat for our physical health, such as losing weight, reducing our risk of diabetes or high blood pressure, we rarely pay attention to how our food choices affect the health of our the most complex organ in the body: the brain.

A growing body of Science in the field of cognitive nutrition shows that this food-brain connection is in fact one of the most powerful drivers of our overall well-being. What we eat is important not only for our physical health, but also for our cognitive and mental health, affecting our risk of anxiety and depression. The science is clear: we can eat our way to better brain health, with both short and long term benefits. Like Uma Naidoo, author of It’s your brain on the foodwrites: “The most powerful medicine for mental health could be in your pantry.”

This food-brain connection is at the heart of Thrive’s new Nourish Your Body and Mind cognitive nutrition program, filled with the latest scientific advances and microsteps we can take to fine-tune our focus, reduce anxiety and reconnect with the pleasure of eating. Once we know the fundamentals of cognitive nutrition, it becomes much easier to create and stick to habits that lead to better brain health. If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, you know that when it comes to making better food choices and create lasting habits, willpower is not enough. A recent to study from the UK found that around two-thirds of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions – many of which are food-related – within a month.

Nearly two years into the pandemic, as many of us continue to struggle with the “pandemic brain,” we have the opportunity to improve our focus, productivity, and righteous decision-making. by making small changes to our diet. As the pandemic continues, these changes are making our bodies and minds more resilient – ​​and same help boost our immunity to the virus itself. And over time, our food choices can affect everything from our risk of dementia to our ability to live longer.

We all know that eating better isn’t just about food. It’s about our environment and the mindsets we bring in every day. That’s why our Nourish Your Body and Mind program, which is already resonating with Thrive’s corporate clients, is grounded in truth. that our relationship with food goes far beyond just food. It is about our history with food, our family and cultural traditions and our daily rituals. What we eat is deeply linked to all aspects of our lives: our sleepour emotions, how much we move, how we react to stress and anxiety and our ability to concentrate, to be productive and connect with others. And if we live breathless, frantic, always-on lives, our eating habits inevitably deteriorate.

For example, if we lack sleep, we enter a vicious circle: we are more likely to craving for sweet foods and other refined carbohydrates, which in turn drains our energy and makes it harder to get the sleep we need. And when it comes to our relationship with technology, nearly 9 out of 10 of us are “zombie eaters” eating while watching TV or scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, which can lead to mindless snacking and overeating. But when we practice what experts call “mindful eating” — which is simply avoiding distractions and being mindful of our food while we eat it — we experience increased feelings of fullness and reduced levels of cortisol, stress hormone.

Essential to Nourish Your Body and Mind is the fact that it’s a judgment-free zone. For many of us, our feelings about food are tied to guilt and judgment — coming not only from outside but also from ourselves. We can hear the voice I call the “obnoxious roommate living in our head” telling us that we are bad or weak at making the choices we make, that we should be ashamed of ourselves.

That’s why our approach is to take microsteps, which are really too small to fail. For example, you may know that chronic inflammation is bad for our bodies. But you might not know that it’s also linked to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. It is also recognized as the underlying basis of a number of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. (Researchers sometimes call it “inflammation-aging”.) When we reduce inflammation, we set ourselves up for better mental health over time. And what we eat is a key factor. One Microstep adds just one fiber-rich food to your meal. Foods like spinach, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, avocados, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds can help calm our body’s inflammatory response and our brain.

And if you like to season your food with a variety of flavors, good news: many herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, sage, rosemary, oregano — they’re all great for your brain! And studies show that turmeric not only suppresses inflammation, but can also improve cognition, attention and memory.

Likewise, small changes in your diet can have major benefits in relieving stress in your gut. and your brain, since the gut-brain connection affects our digestion, mood and overall health. It comes down to the fact that your gut and your brain communicate much more closely than we think. Foods rich in probiotics, for example, contain good bacteria that help keep the intestinal lining intact and promote healthy digestion. And since the good bacteria are also responsible for making many neurotransmitters, probiotics also improve our cognitive functioning. They are found in fermented foods, including yogurt, miso soup, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, kefir, and sauerkraut. So a great Microstep is to add just one of these foods to one meal per day.

Here are some of the themes at the heart of our course, along with microsteps you can take to nurture your body and mind:

Sleep and nutrition are fundamentally linked.

For example, sleep deprivation fuels the production of neurotransmitters associated with excessive hunger and a craving for sweets and other sugary foods.

Microstep: After dinner, brush your teeth. You’ll send yourself a signal that you’re done eating for the day, so you don’t snack between dinner and bedtime, which can affect your ability to get your best night’s sleep.

Our energy levels are deeply tied to the foods we eat, but also how we move our bodies.

When we move and exercise, it actually affects our food choices, and from there, our energy levels and overall well-being. Studies Pin up that movement and exercise can reduce our cravings for unhealthy foods. And that doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym.

Microstep: Take a one-minute break to stretch whenever you can throughout the day. Frequent movement fuels your body and mind. Get up, change your position, walk around the room – anything to get your blood pumping. Better yet, walk outside, as sun exposure is a great way to get an energizing dose of vitamin D.

Our eating habits significantly affect our mental health.

Small changes in our diet can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression, and even help us feel happier and improve our daily mood.

Microstep: Find a snack you like that isn’t over-processed or full of sugar — like pistachios with berries or carrot sticks with almond butter — and make sure you’ve stocked it regularly.

The not-so-hidden link between food and burnout.

We’ve all had days where exhaustion is fueled by sugary, salty, and highly processed drinks or snacks, which can contribute to serious health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. But we can make small changes to meals that provide us with sustained energy and focus, without the jittery highs and lows of 2 p.m.

Microstep: Slice veggies and make healthy dips every Sunday and leave them in front of your fridge. This will make healthy snacks easily accessible throughout the week.

Our relationship to technology is closely linked to our relationship to food.

When we eat in front of a screen or when we’re distracted, we’re much more likely to overeat and less likely to connect with others.

Microstep: Put your phone away during meals. Whether it’s dinner at home with your kids or an outing with friends, putting your phone down allows you to be fully present in the moment and connect with others in a meaningful way.

Eating is not just a matter of necessity, convenience or health.

If we only thought of it in these terms, we would be miserable. Because we would miss a fundamental element of what food gives us: joy. Even small moments of connection around food can be powerful. And in these disconnected times, finding ways to do that is more important than ever.

Microstep: Invite a colleague you don’t connect with often to lunch or coffee, or even a “virtual coffee break.” Research shows that bonding with co-workers can make us happier and more connected, and even increase our productivity.

So if you think eating well means sacrificing joy, think again! Reconnecting with the pleasure of eating is a fundamental element in nourishing our body and mind. When we change our mindset, we can view nutrition as much more than an endless test of our willpower. Instead, we can see it as a daily opportunity to improve our focus, energy, creativity, mood, and joy — all the things we want more of in our work and lives.

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