It is not only our body that thrives on what we eat. Our mind does too. That’s why when we don’t follow the healthy and balanced diet recommended by the doctor, it can influence our brain activity. Proteins, vitamins and fatty acids all improve mental agility. However, the reverse is also true: if our diet lacks any of these components, our intellectual performance will be inferior. Studies such as the one carried out by Alexandra Richardson at Oxford University stating that food is key to our brain’s performance, demonstrate this. Furthermore, as it is the organ which governs the rest of the body, looking after it is just as important as staying hydrated or doing sports.
That’s why watching your diet is fundamental not only for getting rid of a few extra kilos and looking and feeling better, but also for keeping your brain from deteriorating. Because everything that makes us feel better about ourselves also helps prevent our brain from aging. Omega-3 fatty acids are proof of this, designated for maintaining cell membrane flexibility, among many other benefits. As we discussed in the article `Tips for healthy living’, the World Health Organization recommends having three or four servings of fish a week. By following this routine, you will be protecting your brain as the fatty components of omega-3 participate in brain growth and development and make up a significant share of the fatty acids in the brain, both in its structure and function. Moreover, fish are a good source of phosphorus, a mineral that helps strengthen the brain and improve memory power. Another good reason to not leave fish out of our diet.
Olive oil, tomatoes and green vegetables
To maintain a healthy diet and look after ourselves in the way we warrant, we must also make sure to include a vital ingredient: olive oil. The same antioxidant effect that protects tissue and guards against free radical damage, also keeps the brain young. It helps all the cells in our body, including of course the neurons, to function correctly. One of the many studies which demonstrate this is one published in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, in which research conducted with mice found that it protects against cognitive impairment.
Similarly, leafy green vegetables are great allies of brain wellbeing, as they improve memory power and cognitive capacity. As a study from Rush University in Chicago, which divided participants in its research into two groups, showed, one portion of greens a day can rejuvenate the brain: the group that practiced this scored better on memory and thinking skills tests than the people who rarely or never ate them. The study results also found that older adults who ate at least one serving of leafy green vegetables per day showed the equivalence of being 11 years younger cognitively.
For that reason, lettuce, broccoli or spinach should be included in our daily diet. The same is true of tomatoes as they contain lycopene and have great antioxidant properties, which have proven to be very useful in protecting our brain against deterioration. All these foods form part of the Mediterranean diet, the most recommended, according to the medical community, to improve your health and quality of life.
If you would like to know more about healthy eating habits, download our ebook about nutrition and beauty: