The bobcat stepped gingerly around the fallen tree trunk. A squirrel was hiding beneath it, and she was hungry. The tiny animal shivered in fear but refused to bolt, instinctively sensing she would be lunch if she did. The delicate ear tufts of the bobcat glinted in the sunlight as she crouched comfortably to wait out the squirrel. Suddenly, she felt the vibration of human footsteps and heard their voices. Slowly rising, she peered out from the hiding place and saw two people coming her way. She stepped back, unsure if she should run, stay put, or come out and boldly face them.

“This walk is clearing my head; thanks for dragging me out, sweetheart. Too much screen time is frying my brain, and look at this glorious day,” said Annie.

LJ slowed down and touched Annie’s elbow, as he nodded to the right. “Go slow, Annie; there’s a bobcat behind the fallen tree.”

The bobcat stepped away from the tree and directly into their path. She was so beautiful with her perfectly striped coat. She paused and showed her teeth to let them know they were getting too close. Annie and LJ slowed to give her space but did not stop to let her know they were not afraid.

“Let’s move to the other side of the road. I think we’re blocking her getaway.”

“Ok, I think you’re right,” said Annie as she looked both ways before starting across the road.

They crossed over and watched the bobcat wait until there was a distance between them before trotting back the way they had come.

“That was quite an encounter. How much do you think she weighed?

“I would guess not more than fifteen pounds,” mused LJ. I don’t know why we assume it’s a girl, but if it is, she’s probably around four or five years old. A bobcat’s lifespan is only about seven years. This reminds me that you may shorten your lifespan with the time you spend in front of your computer. Why the long hours?”

I’m trying to teach an extra online course, which takes up way more hours than I thought. I also wake up at night thinking about the curriculum and not feeling refreshed or rested in the morning.”

“It sounds like you’re not sleeping long enough for your brain to take out the trash, and that’s why you’re waking up, not feeling refreshed.”

Annie yawned. “What do you mean?”

“The glymphatic system is a waste management pathway in the brain that is responsible for clearing out toxins while also delivering growth factors, glucose, lipids, neuromodulators, amino acids, and other compounds.”

“The glymphatic system helps keep your brain refreshed, and you feel rested. This happens primarily during sleep, so getting enough sleep at night is the best way to support your brain’s ability to detox. The importance of the glymphatic system can’t be overstated; the accumulated waste it flushes also includes amyloid beta, one plaque that forms in the brain during Alzheimer’s. The right food and exercise support a healthy glymphatic system, so we’ll continue walking and exercising.”

“Thanks, sweetheart. Do you know which foods support the glymphatic system?”

“Yes, there’s quite a few, all plant-based, of course. Let’s start with breakfast; if you’re waking in the morning feeling tired, eating foods with choline, essential to producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital to brain function, learning, and memory, could help start your day. How does a Broccoli, Spinach, and Egg Omelet sound? All three are sources of choline. Add one hundred percent whole wheat toast for some additional choline, and you could set yourself on the path to continuous restful sleep in no time.”

“I understand caffeine plays a positive role in brain health. Is that true? Should I drink caffeine with breakfast to help my brain?”

“Well, it depends,” mused LJ. Caffeine in moderation can be beneficial, but it depends on what time of day you drink it and how much. Because caffeine positively affects cerebral spinal fluid production, a cup of coffee, green or black tea in the morning stimulates the central nervous system, acting as an energy booster. That’s when caffeine is good. It’s not so good if you drink several cups a day late into the day since it is also a stimulant. Research shows stopping caffeinated drinks at least six hours before sleep will help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.”

“Sounds delish. What about foods for like lunch or dinner?”

“Let’s see, seeds, sprouts, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are reliable sources of sulforaphane, a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane is shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Your brain and heart also benefit from its support.”

“So, maybe I need to increase the number of cruciferous veggies in my diet to help increase sleep time?”

“More veggies never hurt. You might include leafy greens like kale, spinach, mustard greens, and berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and Goji berries because they contain the phytochemicals, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect your brain and help stabilize cognition.”

“I’m in the mood for a spinach salad with salmon and blueberries,” said Annie. “All those ingredients support brain health, and they’re delicious.”

“Toss some walnuts on top, and you have a powerful Brain Power Salad. Salmon is a good idea. You might also consider other fatty fish like sardines and mackerel; each is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support mood, cognition, and brain health by boosting the glymphatic system’s effectiveness. That will help your brain rest at night, and you should feel energized and refreshed the next morning.”

“Thanks, sweetheart. I’m feeling better already and hungry. Let’s race each other home.”

“I’m not in the mood to run right now. Why can’t we just walk home?”

“Because the bobcat changed its mind and is coming for us!” Annie laughingly shouted as she sprinted away.

“I’m going to get you for that,” said LJ as he ran after her.



Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

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