Grow your brain with food

Kiwi fruit, strawberries and other fruits

As a police officer, you know the value of maintaining a strong body. Most of the time, the outlet to achieve this is through exercise. 

When training to get into the force, we bet you did the beep test, commander-style circuits and long, long runs.

And while fitness is important, there’s one part of police health that’s often overlooked – diet. 

Eating healthy while on duty isn’t easy. Let’s all agree on this first.

The nature of shift work means you often miss meal times at home. It’s tempting to grab something on the go, when you get hungry driving around.

And because police often get discounts at fast food restaurants, fast meals become a great temptation. 

It’s a double-edged sword. You don’t have time but you need good food in your body to keep you sustained during those long shifts.

You never know when you have to drop everything and, say, break up a fight or direct traffic after at a major car accident. 

You need to be on the ball. 

Keep your brain sharp through a healthy diet 

One article explores how eating consciously is the critical element for a healthy brain.

The University of Adelaide’s Dr Fiona Kerr talks about the fascinating way people can ‘grow new brain’.

“One of the things I look at [in my work] is how to keep your brain healthy, how to grow new brain [neurogenesis] and how to think more nimbly,” she said.

“With neurogenesis, I look at the five ways you build brain and one of them is diet, so it’s really quite critical as it feeds our microbiome.”

Neurotransmitters, neurotrophins and chemicals like serotonin created in the gut affect how your brain works, now and in the long-term.

Research shows that healthy foods improve levels of brain plasticity and neurogenesis.

This means both its power to adapt, ‘rewire’ and develop new brain cells.

The size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls learning and memory, can also increase as a result of a good diet.

Yep, you read right. You can, in fact, grow your brain just through the foods you consume.

What should I be eating?

Here are Kerr’s go-to tips:

She suggests starting each morning with a warm glass of lemon water, with the fermented milk drink kefir straight after.

Fibre, fermented foods omega 3s, and plant sources rich in polyphenols are wonderful for acting as antioxidants – instead of filling your body with ‘empty’ junk food.

Eat fresh vegetables and different-coloured fruit, a variety of grains, good fats (avocado, grapeseed and olive oil), fish, and probiotics.

All these foods will help nurture your brain.

And best of all, if your diet is high in these foods, your body will be in a better state to handle junk food.

“If you eat polyphenols and you eat good food, then when you eat junk it doesn’t damage your brain or your body or your gut as much, because it can actually mitigate some of the really bad effects of junk food.”

As a society, we think about diet for physical health. But this research proves that it goes beyond what we see, and into healthy brain functions.

Once you get into the habit of eating well and feeling great, you’ll begin to look at food as fuel, like nature intended.

Police Health pays a benefit for Dietician consultations under our Rolling Extras and Gold Combined cover.

Waiting Periods and benefit limitations may apply.  

Please note

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