The foods we eat will do one of two things to the human brain: help it or kill it.
Dr. Ann Kulze, a physician and motivational speaker specializing in nutrition and wellness, opened her Tulsa Town Hall presentation Friday morning at the Tulsa PAC with that sobering dichotomy.
Fortunately for the audience that filled the Chapman Music Hall, Kulze offered some insights into what she called “The Happiness Diet,” which means consuming foods that will lead to optimal brain health.
“The brain is our most vital, precious physical possession,” Kulze said. “And diet is the most powerful lever we have for keeping the brain healthy. If you eat for optimal brain health, then the rest of the body will be taken care of.”
The brain requires a great deal of fuel and nutrients, as well as robust blood flow, to operate at its best. Because of the brain’s high fat content (“We’re all fatheads,” Kulze said, much to the crowd’s amusement), it is also highly susceptible to oxidation, which in turn leads to the inflammations that cause a wide range of neurological and physical disorders.
Kulze discouraged people eating what she terms “The Great White Hazards” — products made with white flour, white rice, potatoes and sugar — as well as all processed meat products, and limiting consumption of beef, lamb and pork to no more than a few ounces a week.
Instead, Kulze said, “We should eat more food made from plants, not made in plants.”
That means focusing more on dark leafy greens, whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits and nuts, which the body digests slowly, are loaded with nutrients, and contain fiber, which is what feeds the good bacteria — or microbiome — in one’s digestive system.
“The microbiome and the brain are linked,” Kulze said. “Your gut is your brain’s most valuable partner in health and happiness.”
She said when it comes to fats, it’s best to use monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive or canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocado, and to get the much-needed omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish — salmon, herring, sardines, mackeral — rather than from supplements, because fish contains additional beneficial nutrients.
And just in case the audience was thinking that happiness was going to have to be something that involved kale and tofu, Kulze revealed that dark chocolate, made of at least 70 percent cocoa, contains “the most potent antioxidents found in nature.”
“The Happiness Diet is as much about pleasure and abundance as it is about health,” Kulze said. Those wishing to learn more could visit her website, drannwellness.com.