When it comes to our physiology, the brain has essentially been ordained by psychiatrists and scientists in various disciplines as our last frontier. The oft-repeated saying goes, “We only use 20 percent of our brain.”
Knowing how only 20 percent of any organ works is certainly worthy of last-frontier status.
Given this vast unexplored territory, the effect of diet on our brains’ mental processes and, therefore, our mental health is still a work in progress. But, the learning curve has risen considerably over recent years, according to most medical communities and studies. Indeed, some of this increased knowledge of the diet’s effect on mental health stems from our increased knowledge about proteins, vitamins, enzymes, sugars, fats and the like.
This evolving science is evincing some gravitational pull, so to speak, toward some deductions about what we can verifiably call “brain food.”
The consensus in the medical field avers that we are what we eat when it comes to health: Our diet affects how our immune system works, how our genes work, and how our body responds to stress.
Nourishing foods provide the protein building blocks—the enzymes, brain tissue and neurotransmitters—that engage information transfer and signals from one part of the body to another.
Scientists have linked particular nutrients and dietary patterns to a brain protein that enhances connections between brain cells. The proverbial “brain food”—fish—produces one of these nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as zinc. Conversely, diets high in saturated fats and refined sugars poses deleterious impacts on these brain proteins.
If you read health and fitness journals, maintain a studious dietary or fitness routine, or even follow a health regimen such as those extolled by Isagenix, you may know that there are good and bad bacteria in the body. The good (probiotics) fend off the bad to ensure a functioning immune system. An example is how some bacteria battle inflammations spurred by bad bacteria. Particular intestinal bacteria even promote another brain food, the B vitamin complex.
It is also revealed in studies that the healthier intestinal environ—the “biome” in scientific jargon—is predicated on the presence of the good bacteria that control inflammations, which affect mood and cognition.
Though still inchoate, continuing studies are producing stronger hints that a high-sugar diet is detrimental to our biome, therefore our brain as well. Sugars could very possibly aggravate schizophrenia symptoms as well. The role of refined sugars in terms of health has indeed been extended to other mental disorders.
So, in all of these regards, it is safe to aver that a nutritious brain diet parallels the same diet that promotes fitness, muscle lean and weight loss—all the objectives that Isagenix supports through its products and packages.
Essentially, by limiting sugary and fat-intensive foods—i.e., processed in both cases—in favor of fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains, you are doing your noggin a big favor.
Let’s take a look at what research points to as brain food in these regards.
B Vitamins. Those with low B12 levels suffer more brain inflammation and higher rates of depression and dementia than normal. A shortage in folate, part of the B complex, has long been linked to mood disorders.
Iron. Studies have linked too little iron in the blood to higher incidences of depression.
Omega 3s. These healthy fatty acids—most exemplified from a diet rich in salmon and mackerel—have been linked to enhanced thinking and memory with a likelihood they affect mood as well.
Zinc. This little talked about element, derived from the intake of particular seafood, controls the body’s reaction to stress. Low levels of it are linked to depression. Looking for a quick and potent hero in this regard? Shuck an oyster or two. Better yet, have one shucked for you. One of these mollusks possesses five times the zinc your body needs but totes just 10 calories along with it. Brain-healthy selenium also comes by the grace of the aquatic world in the form of mussels.
Fermented food. Though oysters are the love ‘em or hate ‘em form of food in accordance to palate, the fermented foods are not too dissimilar when it comes to the joy of eating. However, they are prolific producers of good bacteria. So, bite the bullet. Eat your kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut. Yogurt is also a deliverer of good bacteria for the stomach.
Dark chocolate. The people’s favorite can’t be left off the list of most common foods rich in antioxidants that increase blood flow to the brain and thereby aid mood as well as memory. Be careful about eating it in excess, however, because of its high caloric content.
In all, a healthy brain diet generally parallels the healthy heart, lean-ratio and weight-control diet. Limit foods processed with high fat and sugar content. Use olive oil as much as possible and trade out butter for an avocado spread. Allow fibrous foods to dominate your diet: fresh fruits, veggies of all colors and whole grains.
If you need one succinct edict to start your journey to a healthier brain, it is this: Eat as many nutrients in as few calories as you can and exercise to keep burning those renegade calories that ultimately creep into our Western diets, no matter how hard we try to parry them off.