Eating healthy and exercise has been proven to help prevent diabetes, heart disease, obesity and many forms of cancer. It’s also key to memory, focus and preventing disease as we age, to remember that your brain is a muscle.
“The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.” -Carl Sagan
Focus on the brain as a muscle demands maintenance through healthy fuel and fitness. This healthy attitude requires you to integrate its’ maintenance with the focus you attend to your body. Rebecca Katz, the author of The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big Flavor Recipes To Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity attributes brain fog and depression as proof of the brain-body connection. She believes “the kitchen and the gym may hold the keys to clear thinking.“
An emerging study has been investigating the connection of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet with its blend of olive oils, whole grains, vegetables and lean meats and brain health. Health.usnews.com reports, The MIND diet, which stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published online February 2015.
Morris’ team followed the food intake of 923 Chicago-area seniors. Over 4.5 years, 144 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease. The longer people had followed the MIND diet patterns, the less risk they appeared to have. Even people who made “modest” changes to their diets – who wouldn’t have fit the criteria for DASH or Mediterranean – had less risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The study found the MIND diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35 percent for people who followed it moderately well and up to 53 percent for those who adhered to it rigorously.
- Every day, you eat at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and another vegetable.
- The MIND diet recommends drinking a glass of wine. (While a little alcohol consumption seems to be better for the brain than none at all, you could skip the wine since it’s not necessary to follow the guidelines to the letter to benefit.)
- On most days you snack on nuts, and every other day you eat half a cup of beans.
- You eat fish weekly, and poultry at least once per week.
- A half-cup serving of berries (blueberries are best) are recommended and olive oil is preferred.
The brain connection with exercise is not completely understood, but it’s accepted that exercise changes your brain chemistry.
Also, that “exercise helps the brain factor that helps new brain cells to form, while keeping existing neurons young.” (CookingLight.com).
The research on the MIND diet continues and there is support for its healthy diet recommendations for brain health.