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Mind What You Eat - It Matters!


Your Brain on Food

We hear a lot in the news today about all of the ways one can injure his or her brain – from sports-related concussions and car accidents to drug use and overconsumption of alcohol. You see, the brain is the hub of the human body’s entire nervous system – it’s powerful and important. As a society, we talk a great deal about nutrition and the role it plays in keeping our hearts and other organs healthy – but what about our brains? The brain accounts for only two percent of overall body weight but it uses more than 20 percent of the body’s daily energy intake. It’s a demanding organ. For this reason, the foods we eat significantly impact how the brain functions, especially over time. Would it surprise you to know that there are foods you can eat that might boost your brain function? And conversely, what are some of the ways we can sabotage that function by making less-than-healthy food choices? Let’s explore together.

Fishy Facts

You may have heard about the countless health benefits of eating fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. From heart health to cholesterol regulation, these fats are essential for our bodies to function efficiently. They also deliver some major brain-health needs. Studies have suggested that Omega 3 fatty acids help provide the structure necessary to maintain brain cells. Additionally, they are crucial for the smooth delivery of information between those cells. On the other hand, foods that are devoid of nutrition, like those high in sugar and saturated fats, have been found to actually damage brain cell membranes.

When possible, it’s best to consume Omega 3 fatty acids in food-form rather than supplements. Some of the highest concentrations can be found in these fishy friends: wild-caught salmon, anchovies, tuna, lake trout, sardines, herring, mackerel and sturgeon.

Even better news is that it isn’t just fish that can provide that Omega-3 fatty acid boost in your diet. This versatile compound is also found in walnuts and flax seeds.

Feeling Spicy?

An ancient herb historically used in Indian cooking, turmeric is a plant member of the ginger family. It has become more main stream in recent years as a cooking agent in many curry-based culinary dishes. Scientifically, studies have observed this versatile spice for health benefits from reduction of arthritis inflammation to a treatment for intestinal upset. But turmeric is also been praised for positively affecting molecules in the brain that support cognitive function.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more of the turmeric spice into your brain-healthy diet, check out these tasty-looking and healthy recipes from Eating Well:

The Oh-So Obvious

While it should go without saying that a healthy diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables is critical for brain and overall health – it bears repeating. As the Western diet has industrialized and become far more convenient, we’re seeing a significantly increased negative impact on brain function as a result.

In fact, one Australian study found that just five days of eating junk food could impair memory function, attention, speed and mood. The suspicion is that poor diet leads to inflammation in the brain which can damage its structures – affecting both hunger cues and body weight. Basically – a diet consisting of highly-processed foods messes with your brain in a bad way.

While it may be true that you’ve got the highest number of brain cells you’ll ever have when you’re born, it doesn’t mean that it’s all downhill from there. In fact, your brain is constantly generating new cells and adapts to your lifestyle as you age. There are plenty of external factors that can affect your brain which are out of your control – an accidental fall or traumatic injury for example – but there is so much you CAN do to keep your brain healthy. Eating well is one way and the great news is that a healthy diet is multi-purpose – positively affecting every organ system in your body, including your brain. Now that’s some food for thought.