Raise your hand if you started following @IAmTabithaBrown during quarantine. If you did not, go do it. She is known as “the world’s favorite mom” because of her heart warming life advice and healthy fun vegan recipes that I can trick my own parents into eating. I have learned so much from her and I want to share with you what she has to say about eating purple food. We know eating a balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruits is good for us, but did you know that eating healthy is actually great for your mind? There are some wildly colored foods that support our brain health.
Momma Tab, (that’s what I call her, Momma Tab), she says to eat black cherries to help calm the mind.
The anthocyanins in cherries are thought to boost cognitive function, prevent memory loss and protect against Alzheimer's Disease. The polyphenols in cherries help us process new information effectively and improve communication between our brain and the rest of our body.
Momma Tab says to eat blueberries because they contain flavonoids and antioxidants that can help calm our anxiety.
Blueberries can help maintain brain function and improve memory. Oxidative stress can accelerate your brain's aging process, negatively affecting brain function. According to animal studies, the antioxidants in blueberries may affect areas of your brain that are essential for intelligence.
She suggests adding those really dark purple (Concord) Grapes to your diet as well.
Daily consumption of Concord grape juice (CGJ) over 3–4 mo has been shown to improve memory function in adults with mild cognitive impairment and reduce blood pressure in hypertensive adults. These benefits likely result from the high concentration of polyphenols in Concord Grape Juice.
The vitamin & mineral content of eggplants is quite extensive. They’re a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, fiber, folic acid, potassium, and like other purple foods, packed in natural chemicals called phytonutrients, which have been known to improve mental health. Studies show that improved cognition is a result of increased blood flow throughout the body and into the brain. By delivering more blood to the brain, phytonutrients help boost memory by stimulating your neural pathways to develop.
In Indian medicine (Ayurveda) eggplant is recommended for curing insomnia and other sleep disorders. Not getting enough sleep can make us feel foggy and irritable in the short term. The long term effects of sleep deprivation can result in memory loss and increases your risk for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. I think we all know the importance of catching some zzz’s so why not assist your body with the food you choose?
There are so many foods that are great for the brain but here one of my (and the entire Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community’s) favorite…
Like in other purple berries, the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is abundant in acai berries, may lower oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting brain health. Anthocyanins also have been shown to enhance and improve memory. A sharp memory is vital for people with high intensity careers, athletes, competitors, and apparently those practicing BJJ. Now we know why it is at every major Jiu Jitsu competition.
Whether you are trying to limit your response to stress, dealing with anxiety, tired, or just trying to get ahead of aging - adding purple food to your diet is a must. Pick your favorite one or mix it up because, in the words of Tabitha Brown, baby… that’s your business.
Studies have shown that physical activity reduces cognitive decline. It is fair to say that moving helps us to age gracefully and can improve our memory. Movement doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow (enough to break a sweat) is a key lifestyle habit that no human should take for granted.
One of my favorite ways to break a sweat is through yoga poses that are as challenging as they are simple. I am so not talking about hot yoga or pinning your legs behind your head. Quite the opposite actually.
I practice and teach a style of yoga called Yoga Tune Up® that focuses on functional movement originating from a strong core and building an authentic deep internal heat. Yoga Tune Up® includes massage and movements to help break up and release muscle adhesions that limit good movement and range of motion. Practicing yoga in this manner can make you drip sweat even though you are essentially still. Yoga can increase cognitive ability by combining abstract thought, emotion, and physical activity.
My other favorite activity that incorporates deep and abstract thinking with physical activity is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ. BJJ is a self-defense martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting and submission holds. It is quite literally the yang to yoga’s yin. Practicing the two simultaneously has been the best way for me to find balance in my own body, mind, and spirit. Jiu Jitsu and many martial arts can be effective tools to keep your mind sharp and your body moving while giving you the tools that could save your own life.
Those are my two favorite ways of getting exercise but If you are new to cardiovascular exercises I have a couple of other suggestions to get you going. Like I said, movement doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It just needs to be consistent and challenging to YOUR level.
After I had my son I was never able to get to a class, and I definitely did not feel comfortable exercising in front of anyone. So I made cleaning my house my workout. I am dead serious. I would put on my workout playlist, turn it up loud, and clean/dance for an hour or two. The time went by, the house was clean, endorphins were flowing, and I didn’t have to go to the gym to sweat my butt off. Breaking a sweat from cleaning helped me build stamina and made me feel twice as productive than choring or workout alone. Dance-Cleaning is actually the only way I clean now. If you hear Aretha Franklin blaring from my house, just know my floors are clean and I’m probably a sweaty mess. Stay back.
Recently I, like many of you, learned the importance of a 20 min Walk. During the COVID-19 quarantine, those 20-minute walks helped me reset mentally and kept me from getting too soft physically. (I ate a lot of cookies in March y’all, but whatever, the world was ending.) I started taking walks by myself in the morning and with my family in the evening. I will tell you, I made myself walk even when I didn’t want to because of how great I felt with freshly oxygenated blood and an increased heart rate that wasn’t induced by watching the news or checking Facebook. Taking a brisk walk is a great way to practice cardio. Aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, biking, or running work your large muscles repetitively and pushes your heart and lungs to work hard. Over time, this makes your heart stronger and more efficient. Studies have found that strengthening your heart can also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Okay, this is my last one. But first I have a question for you. When was the last time you played? Like, played so hard you thought your legs were going to fall off or your heart might explode? For me it was last Thursday. My 9-year-old asked me to play laser tag with him at home. We turned off all the lights and ran around the house like crazy people. We were screaming, and laughing, and scaring each other. It was incredible. We were both sweating and out of breath. At the end he looked at me and said “Wow, mom. You keep me young. You’re just like a big kid.” Not only did that make me laugh so hard but it reminded me that just like kids, adults need to play too. We need to play so hard that we have to stop to catch our breath. Maybe chasing your grandkids around for 5 minutes is where you start. Maybe you go play paintball or start a game of tag with your boss. Who cares!? We have got to bring the joy back into movement. Try the monkey bars again. Check out the zipline at the Gathering Place. If I see you swinging on the kids playground I’ll join you. Don’t be embarrassed. Just play!
The sooner we stop moving the sooner we decline mentally and physically. Move to improve. Add these tips to your lifestyle to keep your mind sharp. Check out our Class Schedulesand make sure to follow us on Facebook for events and more fun exercises like these.
Mental health is not a new issue, but is only recently being recognized, and proactively destigmatized. Mental health disorders now affect 1 in 4 people in the world at some point in their lives. Think of that… a quarter of the world’s population has battled, or is currently battling, mental ailments. But the thought that's even scarier is how many are actually reaching out for help? How many actually feel safe enough to reach out when they know they need help?
How can we help to destigmatize mental health so people do not feel ashamed of what they are feeling? I believe that one of the first steps to helping others, and yourself, who are experiencing mental conditions such as anxiety and depression, is to simply talk about it. Speaking out loud about mental illness takes away the power, so we can begin to own our stories, and our feelings to live a more heart centered and compassionate life. Let’s talk about what we can do to help take the shame out of mental health.
Let’s start by talking about what stigma is. Stigma is viewing someone else, or maybe even yourself in a negative way because you deal with a mental health condition. Stigma feels like judgement. Stigma feels like shame. Stigma feels like guilt, and blame. Stigma says, “You are bad, there is something wrong with you?” Stigma does not feel good, and it isn’t like we aren’t already experiencing the sadness of depression, or the worry of anxiety, or the fear with Post Traumatic Stress. Darkness only has power in the shadows, so what we bring to light (talk about openly) cannot keep us down.
Now, let’s explore 3 ways to help destigmatize mental illness.
Some studies link depression with cognitive decline. This makes it even more important to seek help if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, and stress. When we talk about our experience with mental health, whether it is with a trusted friend, or therapist, or maybe we share an honest post about what we are going through on social media, we have taken the first step to stop the stigma. It might seem small to us, but the ripple effect it can have is profound. In 2015 I shared on facebook that I was struggling with depression and anxiety. I do remember it being scary at first to be that vulnerable, but because I shared my experience, it encouraged others to reach out to me, and to reach out to professionals to get the treatment they needed, but were afraid to ask for. It might seem like a small thing to do to speak out about mental health, but you never know who’s life you can help change forever because you spoke up. Not to mention, you are breaking the stigma each time you speak out about it.
As if the stigma around mental health wasn’t enough in the first place, now there has to be a stigma about treatment, too? I started in therapy in 2014, and I remember a family member would only refer to it as my doctor’s appointment. They didn’t want to admit that I was seeing a therapist because I needed help with my mental health. When you have the flu, there is no one there to shame you for going to see your primary care doctor, so when you are dealing with depression why is there shame about seeking help? We are losing lives because these stigmas exist. So, be honest about your treatment and what has helped you find some peace and relief. It could be a visit to therapy once a week, or a meditation class, a yoga practice, getting involved in a support group… Whatever it may be, share it with others, and be proud that you are owning your story and getting the help that you need to live a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.
I have seen the word compassion surfacing many places, and I must say, it does feel good to see, but how many of us actually practice compassion towards ourselves? I’d like to think that people are good at being compassionate for others who are hurting and struggling. It’s important to show people with mental illness compassion. They are fighting a battle so deep and wide, some days it can be hard to even do the basics of self care like shower, brush your teeth, feed yourself. If we can show them love, compassion, and that we care, that can go a longer way than you could imagine. When it comes to ourselves, however, we have a much more difficult time showing ourselves compassion. We are very quick to judge, shame, and condemn ourselves, instead of loving ourselves, and giving ourselves a break. Something that can help to kickstart your self compassion practice is putting everything to speak and think to yourself through the filter of “Would I say this to the person I care about most who could be going through the same thing?” In my case, about 99% of the time, there is NO WAY I would say the things to my dearest friends and family, that I say to myself - especially if they are going through a rough time with their mental health. It only causes harm, and for some reason, we have become comfortable with beating ourselves up when we are already down. Next time you are overwhelmed and in the throes of depression, hold your heart, close your eyes, and say, “I have compassion toward myself for all of the ways that this is hard.” Just say that out loud, and let your body and nervous system feel what that feels like, instead of something negative, unkind, or judgemental. It is so important to learn how to be there for ourselves, and extend kindness and compassion to ourselves for all of the ways this is difficult.
You are not alone in your battle against mental illness. There is much work to do to become stigma free, but it is my hope and my wish that in my lifetime, I will see a world where mental health is radically destigmatized. A world where people are able to speak about it, get the help they need in whatever capacity they need to heal, and to live enjoyable and fulfilling lives despite the struggles they may be facing.