Many of us have been affected by family members, friends, or loved ones who suffer or have suffered from mental illness, learning or behavioral disorders, or memory loss. They take a toll on our happiness, can require a lot of time and money, and can be debilitating to our relationships. Without memory, without mental well-being, life just doesn’t seem to be as worthwhile as without it.
Diet is important not only to our physical health, but also to our mental health. Further, there is scientific evidence that a lot of these conditions may very well be preventable through diet. In my interview with Dr. Alan Logan—author of The Brain Diet: The Connection Between Nutrition, Mental Health, and Intelligence—on The Healthy Living Show, we discussed how diet correlates to brain function and health. According to Dr. Logan, leading health research clearly shows a direct link between the decline of healthy eating and the rise of mental disorders including ADHD, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more:
1. Depression: Studies show that individuals with low blood folate levels are more likely to have depression relapse. It is recommended that individuals who suffer from depression take 800 mcg of folic acid (as compared with 500 mcg for average adults) and 1.0 mg of Vitamin B12 in order to ward off and fight symptoms of depression. Additionally, plant-based foods rich in purple pigments have been shown to maintain levels of “mood-enhancing” hormones around for a longer period of time.
2. Behavioral Disorders: Research shows that hyperactivity can be reduced when we eliminate preservatives, dyes, and other artificial and synthetic ingredients from our diet and increase Gamma Lineoic Acids (GLAs) and Omega-3 EFAs. Even in children without ADHD, dyes, preservatives, and benzoates can provoke symptoms of hyperactivity and other behavioral issues. With ADHD, there is an increased need for GLAs (found in borage, black currant, and evening primrose) for their anti-inflammatory impacts and their ability to preserve the integrity of Omega-3s, which are important to the development of “brain scaffolding” or structure.
3. Learning and Cognitive Function: A well-balanced breakfast is important to our ability to function and maintain cognition throughout the day. An optimal “learning breakfast” is high in fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats. Dietary fiber keeps blood sugar and energy levels stable and balanced, which is important in reaching full learning and cognitive potential. A breakfast with these three components helps sustain energy and brain function levels throughout the day.
4. Aging: Deeper-colored and pigmented plant foods are most crucial to brain health. Researchers from Tufts University conducted a study in which they fed four different groups of animals various plant foods: blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and broccoli. Those who consumed blueberries showed the highest level of prevention of many symptoms of aging, such as loss of memory, balance, and cognitive skills.
5. Extra Weight: Extra abdominal weight and fat are the worst enemies of optimal brain health. They contain bioactive tissue that enhances the secretion of inflammatory chemicals at the brain level. The greater the amount of midlife abdominal fat, the greater potential for brain decline later in life.
6. Organics: If you aren’t already convinced of the benefits of buying organics, you may have yet another reason to reconsider. Studies have shown that the more we consume pesticides and herbicides, the more likely we’ll have cognitive and neurological issues as we get older.
I highly recommend that you consider purchasing The Brain Diet: The Connection Between Nutrition, Mental Health, and Intelligence. What we discussed on the show didn’t even scratch the surface of all of the good information Dr. Logan shares in his book.
How do you keep your brain healthy?
Originally published on SheerBalance.com