It is said that “you are what you eat.” Moreover, the food we eat has a significant effect on our bodies. But may specific diets also improve our mental health?
It turns out that some meals may aid cognitive processes such as memory and focus.
“Over the years, several diets have been advised for optimum brain health, and we have excellent evidence for some of them,” says memory and brain health expert Dr Babak Tousi.
Particularly as we age, our brains undergo alterations. Dr Tousi emphasises that the white matter in our brains undergoes changes, which may alter how our brains transmit information to the rest of our bodies. In addition, grey matter, the portion of the brain that regulates the processing and thought, decreases with age.
Fortunately, certain diets and nutrients have been discovered to halt brain degradation and reduce the chance of disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Can certain diets improve brain health?
Several diets have been found to have several health advantages. It is well-known that the Mediterranean diet, which emphasises vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, is heart-healthy. But it may also be beneficial for the brain by limiting alterations in white and grey matter.
According to Dr Tousi, the Mediterranean diet has also been proven to reduce white matter alterations. It enhanced the thickness of grey matter in the cortex of the brain, where the cognitive process occurs.
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which was created to reduce blood pressure. The MIND diet emphasises brain-enhancing foods such as fish and berries while excluding red meat, fried meals, sweets, and fast food.
Eliminating pro-inflammatory and high-sugar diets may improve cognitive function and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Dr Tousi states, “Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet may enhance your brain’s overall volume.”
Even if you’re not ready to adopt a whole new diet, including specific items in your meals may still provide several health advantages.
Here are some meals that will bring a grin to your brain:
It turns out that the “chicken of the sea” is not only a nutritious meat substitute but also a fantastic source of brain food. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are excellent for learning and memory.
According to Dr Tousi, there is substantial evidence that fish may help slow the deterioration of the brain. It may also assist the elderly with memory loss.
Your brain’s grey matter, which aids in-memory processing, normally diminishes with age. The glad tidings? The omega-3 fatty acids in fish may enhance the amount of grey matter in the brain.
Include the following fish and seafood items in your diet:
“Add colour to your dish,” Dr Tousi suggests. Including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your meals is a smart method to provide a nutritional balance for your body and brain. Due to their vitamin, mineral, and fibre content, berries are on the MIND diet’s list of suggested fruits to include in your diet.
Multiple studies have shown that berry fruits have a beneficial effect on neurological illnesses associated with ageing. While further research is necessary, a 2014 study indicates that eating berries may boost memory. A dish of strawberries has never sounded so appealing.
These are some excellent berries to add to your diet:
The replacement of refined carbs with whole grains may also have a good effect on brain function. Because of how they are metabolised in the body, whole grains may have a good effect on brain function in addition to their other health advantages.
Whole grains, unlike the refined carbohydrates in white bread, are complex carbohydrates that break down more slowly in the body and release their sugars gradually, which is a positive thing.
“As soon as you consume white bread, it swiftly decomposes into sugar,” says Dr Tousi. “Whole wheat bread is not. Try to avoid meals that rapidly release sugar into the bloodstream. Complex carbs, such as whole grains, are metabolised more slowly, so sugar is released gradually, enabling your body to work more effectively.”
Dr Tousi notes that high consumption of sugar is also associated with a rapid deterioration in brain function. Even something as healthy-sounding as quick, prepackaged oatmeal is not as healthful as steel-cut oats.
Try substituting simple carbohydrates with whole-grain alternatives such as:
- Uncooked brown rice.
- Whole wheat bread.
- Whole wheat pasta.
Overall, eating mindfully has various health advantages for the whole body, including the brain and memory. Even little adjustments may have a significant impact. Explore alternative cuisines or substitute particular items in your normal diet to increase your intake of brain-boosting nutrients.