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*Before we dive in, we wanted to let you know that this is the first post in a series designed to help raise the health consciousness of our beautiful community.  Food 4 Fuel is a healthy food prep company, but we really aim to provide so much more. We want to help you understand all of the activities that can be chosen on a daily basis to help you increase happiness and motivation and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.   This post will explore that in depth and serve both an educational role and an introductory role to content we’ll be sharing in the weeks to come. We hope that you’ll continue to engage with us as we go on this journey! 

Jolene Park is a world renowned functional nutritionist.  She founded an organization called “Healthy Discoveries” in 2001 and a coaching program for individuals dealing with substance abuse called “Craving Brain.”  She also has a famous TedTalk presentation called “Gray Area Drinking” that has helped to spread her ideas about nourishing ourselves so we can live our most happy and healthy lives.  

She spends a lot of her time discussing the nervous system.  She educates individuals about specific neurotransmitters in the brain and how they impact our lives in the most important ways:

  • GABA – Anti-anxiety neurotransmitter. Low GABA can promote feelings of anxiety and put our mind into a state of worry, rumination, and/or obsession
  • Serotonin – Anti-depression neurotransmitter. Low serotonin can promote feelings of depression, unhappiness and can make us crave things like carbs and alcohol and it can affect our sleeping patterns
  • Dopamine – Neurotransmitter that regulates focus and motivation. Low dopamine makes it hard for us to stay on track with our goals and routines

N.O.U.R.I.S.H. Your Nervous System

The good news is that she developed a comprehensive and consistent way for individuals to replenish neurotransmitters and nourish the nervous system.  She explains that “It turns out there are actually specific foods, movements, and lifestyle practices that, while they’re great wellness tips for everybody, they have very direct and immediate roles in boosting all of our neurotransmitters.”  She breaks this process down into the “N.O.U.R.I.S.H.” system:

Notice Nature

Observe Your Breath

Unite With Others

Replenish With Food

Initiate Movement

Sit In Stillness

Harness Creativity

Taking time to Notice Nature means spending time in a density of trees or next to a body of water.  Research has found that just 20 minutes of this kind of activity can increase your levels of all three of these important neurotransmitters.

You can Observe your Breath by practicing breathing exercises or simply just taking deep breaths with intention.  You regulate these three neurotransmitters by regulating your breath.

To Unite with Others is to spend time with other people.  When you develop close social bonds and a connection with a community, you can make a direct positive impact on your nervous system.  Touch is especially important and you can get it many different ways. Hug your family and loved ones, hug your pets, go for a massage, give a high five to a friend or coworker.  These opportunities for touch boost all three neurotransmitters.

Food 4 Fuel has a mission to help people properly Replenish with Food.  Protein breaks down into amino acids which replenish all three neurotransmitters.  Healthy fats, specifically omega-3 fats, are the building blocks of our neurotransmitters.  Carbs in the form of vegetables, specifically leafy green vegetables, break down into B vitamins, which make serotonin.

Find opportunities to Initiate Movement on a daily basis.  Any exercise will boost your neurotransmitters.  Specific research on yoga found that 60 minutes of it can have a massive impact on your GABA.  Anyone who has gone for a jog, or completed a specific workout in the gym, has experienced the “runner’s high.” You can even get that feeling from going for a walk.  This is specifically how it feels to boost your neurotransmitters. Move more, live more. Tony Robbins famously says “Motion creates emotion.”  Nothing is more true.

Our hectic lives don’t allow us a lot of opportunities to Sit in Stillness, but this practice can pay huge dividends if you take time to fit it in.  This will allow your nervous system to respond and adapt in our on-the-go world.  This can be done through meditation, prayer, and reading, among other things. This replenishes our neurotransmitters.

Harness your Creativity through positive activities that end in ING.  Things like painting, gardening, or fishing. Dopamine especially loves the creative flow.  Just make sure you avoid the “ING” activities like smoking or drinking.

Replenish Your Physical & Mental Health  

Dedicate time to nourish and replenish your nervous system.  Your emotional health and productivity depend on it. Go for a walk in Rock Cut State Park or next to the Rock River.  Find a quiet place in your house for reflection and prayer. Replace wasteful carbs and alcohol with protein, healthy fats, and veggies.  Spend time with people you care about and find opportunities for physical touch. Your physical and mental health will thank you.

As mentioned above, this is the first post in a series to help build more health consciousness in our community.  We’re going to give you some great ways to engage in later posts, but we wanted to make you aware of a few communities that you can engage with now.  Food 4 Fuel currently has a walking group (more information here) and an all-inclusive wellness challenge called the 21 Day Sprint to Confidence (more information here).  We will also be launching a running community in the near future, so keep your eye out for that! 

Food 4 Fuel has a wide selection of healthy prepared foods to help replenish and nourish your nervous system.  We make it easy and convenient for you to treat your body with care. Take a look at our meal options here.