The Brain-Boosting Tonic This Neurologist Drinks Every Morning
It may sound like hyperbole, but this morning juice recipe really did change my life. What we do first thing in the morning to feed our bodies can change the course of each day. If you start the day right, you will have more energy, improved motivation, a better sense of intention, and less sadness and anxiety. If you focus on proper nutrition in the long term, it's a huge step in the right direction for your overall health and risk of disease.
I make this juice every morning, and it has helped me through work stress, family drama, and various health challenges. It has propelled my energy to allow me to move my body each day, provided me vitamins and compounds to allow my body to heal, and balanced my neurotransmitters to keep me happy, focused, and sharp.
Drink this juice first thing in the morning after your body has fasted overnight (leaving a 12-hour window between dinner and breakfast the next day). At this point, the cells are hungry and receptive to nutrition. I juice all the ingredients because then my cells can simply absorb all the nutritional goodness without having to do much work in the form of digestion, metabolism, and utilization. Here are the six magical ingredients:
I always start with a whole lemon, juiced without the skin. Citrus fruits are high in vitamins, and a healthy dose of vitamin C can fight infection, reduce kidney stones, relieve indigestion, decrease headache pain, and help detoxify the body.
Cucumbers have important minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes to help maintain water balance in the body. They also contain erepsin, an important digestive enzyme to break down protein. Its plant sterols lower LDL, and its phytoestrogens helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
3. Fresh turmeric root.
Turmeric is a powerhouse anti-inflammatory and relieves arthritic pain, prevents atherosclerosis, and fights free radical damage to the brain. It can relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, reduces risks of stomach ulcers, and improves mood and feelings of depression.
4. Fresh ginger root.
Ginger is a wonder food that fights inflammation, eases nausea related to anything from indigestion to chemotherapy, and is great for healing and protecting the gut. It is also wonderful for reducing sinus and head discomfort from colds and flu.
5. Yellow or red beets.
Beets have incredible phytochemicals to stimulate production of glutathione, which aids and protects the liver and is a powerful antioxidant for improving nerve function. Beets also contain choline—an important B vitamin—making them important for supporting heart health and healthy blood sugar balance. Red beets have betacyanins, which are good for liver and brain health. Golden beets have vulgaxanthin, which boosts the immune system.
Pears are a low-allergy and a low-sugar fruit. Pears also soothe the nervous system with vitamin C, which triggers the production of norepinephrine and serotonin, the happy neurotransmitters. They are also a great source of potassium, an important electrolyte for our nerves, muscles, joints, and heart.
During cold and flu season, I like to add some goldenseal and elderberry extract to the mix. These are ingredients that have both been shown to support a health immune system and are available as herbal tinctures that you can just add in before drinking it down. In times of stress, I often add ashwagandha and astralagus, which are both adaptogens—a group of plant medicines known to help us adapt to stress and bring balance back to our bodies. Adaptogens are available in powdered or capsule form and also in herbal tinctures that you can add directly to your morning tonic. This juice is not only powerful in its medicinal qualities, but it also tastes great! It is truly a fabulous way to set your day. Enjoy!
Brain-Boosting Morning Tonic
- One whole lemon with peel cut off
- One whole cucumber with peel
- One 2-inch root of ginger (if you're not a fan of ginger, cut this amount in half)
- Two 3- to 4-inch roots of turmeric
- One whole pear
- One yellow or red beet
- extract of ashwagandha
- extract of astragalus
- extract of goldenseal
- extract of elderberry
- Place all ingredients in a juicer, and add extracts of ashwaghandha and astragalus (for further adaptogenic support) or goldenseal and elderberry during flu season.
- Serve immediately.
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Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified neurologist practicing integrative pediatric and adult neurology in Seattle. She is the owner and founder of the Center for Healing Neurology and is on the faculty of Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her holistic approach includes full neurological care with the addition of acupuncture, neurofeedback, and herbal and nutritional guidance. She received her M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed her neurology training at the University of Washington in Seattle. In addition to becoming a certified medical acupuncturist, she has also completed the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona. Her Ph.D. doctoral dissertation studied the effects of environmental toxins on our nation’s water systems.