NEUROGENETIC chia pudding? I know I'm coming onto the trend a bit late, but lately I cannot get enough of chia pudding! It is SO easy and has so many health benefits. Lately, I've been interested in learning about neurogenesis -- the process during which your brain actually creates new brain cells. Isn't that amazing? Remember how not more than a few years ago, the consensus was that you had a finite number of brain cells and when you lost them, they were gone forever, hailing in a slow degeneration... Well, it is now known that the brain is plastic and highly responsive to its environment. And yes, that means FOOD! I feel amazing knowing I make an effort to fuel my body with the best food out there. Plants, plants, plants. No nasty animal products of chemically-processed food.
Since I found out about this amazing process, I became obsessed with trying to learn everything I can. I highly recommend you check out some books, videos and podcasts about neurogenesis. For the sake of this article, there are a few specific things you can do to actually generate new brain cells, some of which are exercise related (such as performing endurance exercise), which increases the growth of neurons in the hippocampus -- the part of your brain responsible for memory retention and the organization of information. This recipe contains many of the foods that stimulate neurogenesis.
Cocoa flavanols can improve memory by effecting a part of the brain called the dentate gyrus.
Cacao is also one of the most concentrated sources of magnesium, the "relaxer mineral". Magnesium down regulates (deactivate) 36 genes involved in inflammation - a cause of neurodegeneration. It neutralizes toxins, calms sensitivity to pain, and activates 24 genes related to glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. It affects over 300 metabolic reactions, actually entering our cells' nucleus and impacting the functioning of our DNA! How amazing is that? And yet, over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium, which
NOTE: These benefits are not accessible via standard, processed cocoa or chocolate. It's very important, for the sake of neurogenesis, to use raw, unprocessed, organic cacao or cacao nibs, which you can buy at a discount using my link here!
2) Chia Seeds
Hello Omega-3 fatty acids! Omega is kind of a buzz word. I always heard it was important for brain health but never really knew why. Rich in Omega, chia seeds help the brain guard itself from anxiety, improve memory and promote neurogenesis. Buy them discounted here!
Blueberries contain flavonoids, antioxidant-rich phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals and counteract the effects of oxidative damage, which is associated with cognitive decline in neural plasticity. Not all flavonoids are able to pass through the blood brain barrier (BBB), but the anthocyanin in blueberries, which give them their color, are. They have also been linked to increased stem cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Diets high in blueberries have shown to be able to halt and even reverse oxidative damage and hippocampal degeneration. They improve cognitive flexibility and impact the brain's ability to store and organize information. Having these supplementary boosts in hippocampal neurogenesis is super important because, starting in the late twenties, the hippocampal region starts to decrease by about 1% each year. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and flavonoids helps to keep the brain healthy and active, thereby better positioning you against neural degeneration.
Freeze-dried blueberry powder contains all the benefits above, but in a more concentrated and potent form. Bonus points for making your food look BEAUTIFUL in color, too! You can get your hands on some here.
Carob, often used as a caffeine-free replacement for cacao/cocoa, also contains magnesium (though less than cacao), as well as calcium, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, potassium and polyphenols.
On the other hand, there are neurotoxins
These actually stimulate the destruction of brain cells. The list is long, but present on it is dairy, which is linked to Alzheimers, as well as other age related degenerative diseases due to its alteration of the oxidative balance in the brain and by its serving as a vehicle for environmental neurotoxins. In this recipe, we use organic almond milk instead. You can buy it in bulk at a discounted price using this link.
With that, let's get started!
This pudding is naturally-sweetened, paleo, plant based and gluten free. Not to mention that RAW food contains live enzymes, which are incredibly beneficial for digestion. You can blend the pudding for a mousse-like texture, or leave as is.
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/3 cup cacao powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla powder / extract
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup carob syrup or powder
- 1.5 cups organic almond milk (use vanilla flavored in place of vanilla powder/extract)
- Pinch sea salt
- Optional -- 1 tsp coffee powder (make sure to use fair trade, organic coffee, as conventional coffee is one of the cruelest trades in the world)
Combine all ingredients and mix. Taste and adjust -- adding more sweetener or cacao as desired.
For a smooth pudding, blend ingredients in a nutribullet or high powered blender. Otherwise, leave as is for a textured treat. Cover and leave in fridge for 4+ hours. Serve cold with fruit (and maybe some coconut cream).