Neurology and Diet
Have you ever imagined how much your brain works to keep things running like clockwork? Although it takes up only 2% of a human adult’s weight, it uses up almost 20% of the body’s energy output. This energy is drawn from the food we eat; hence our diets play an important part in how our brains perform.
Food is the “fuel” that provides the right nutrition for brain health and cognitive performance. It’s what drives the brain to perform all your daily tasks. That’s why it’s so important that you choose what you eat carefully since what you eat, directly affects your brain functions.
Research has found out that diet, along with exercise, has been a key factor in structuring the evolution of the brain and its cognitive capacity for thousands of years. For example, diets high in Omega-3 fatty acids are found to positively affect cognitive processing of the brain whereas diets high in saturated fats have been found to negatively affect the cognitive processing of the brain.
Have you ever wondered what controls your sleep and appetite or your sensations to pain? Why is it that consuming some food elevates your mood or helps you in fighting depression. It’s the work of a neurotransmitter called “Serotonin” and how it impacts the brain’s neural chemistry.
Around 95% of Serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract which, along with neurons, contributes to your emotions. These neurons and Serotonin are affected by good bacteria that can be found in your intestines which help in protecting the intestinal layer by driving bad bacteria out. So if you choose a diet that promotes Serotonin production, then it helps in keeping your anxiety, stress, and mental balance. For example, studies have found out that the risk of depression is about 25%-35% lower in the case of traditional diet options such as the Mediterranean diet which promotes Serotonin production as compared to other Western diets.
Essential Food Groups of a Brain Healthy Diet
Neurology and diet are integrally linked, so choosing the right diet is extremely important for enhancing your brain health. Studies have found out that a balanced diet plays an important role in improving heart and brain health and reducing the chances of neurological problems and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Diabetes.
A balanced diet consists of brain food i.e. food which is good for nerves and muscles.
The elements that make up a balanced brain-healthy diet are:
Popular Brain Healthy Diets
There are several brain diet which helps in relieving neurological pain and enhancing brain health. Below, we will be discussing two of the best diets for brain health as recommended by experts.
The Mediterranean Diet originated in the 1960s and is one of the best diets for mental health. Research has discovered that this diet is adopted in countries such as Greece and Italy and plays a vital role in decreasing the number of deaths from strokes and heart attacks as compared to the American countries.
A Mediterranean Diet is a traditional cuisine from countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This diet is high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.
The basic components in a Mediterranean diet are:
Here’s a detailed classification of what a Mediterranean diet includes:
Unhealthy Foods to Avoid
Beverages to consume
Now that you know what foods to indulge and avoid in a Mediterranean diet, let’s look at a sample diet plan:
The Mind Diet is one of the ideal diets to improve brain health since it’s designed to prevent reduced brain functioning and dementia. It’s a combination of a Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). It stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
It’s considered to be a good diet for brain health since researchers have discovered that it can reduce the chances of heart diseases and lower the blood pressure. Following a combination of both diets helps to make the diet suggestions more specific. For example, fruits, in general, are found to have an impact on brain function, however, berries are known to be the most beneficial. So, the diet focuses on recommending berries rather than fruits in general.
As per the MIND diet, there are 10 healthy foods to eat and 5 unhealthy foods to avoid. Here they are:
Unhealthy Foods to Avoid
Diet is vital for your brain health in more ways than one. What you choose to eat ultimately affects your mental health. Opting for any of the diets mentioned above will help you in improving your brain’s cognitive performance, prevent neurodegenerative diseases and help reduce your overall stress levels and anxiety.
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