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Generally speaking, after having a heavy meal rich in carbohydrate, we tend to feel lethargic, less attentive and unable to focus. Whereas, a meal rich in protein and fibres, we tend to feel alert, active and in a good mood. We must have noticed that binging on junk food, or refined food in large quantities tend to make us feel exhausted, anxious, depressed and less attentive. So, there is enough evidence to show the high impact of food on mental and brain health. Studies from the past and new emerging researches have given strong scientific evidence regarding the link between dietary pattern and mental health.
6 Relevant facts
1. Though the brain is 2% of the body weight, it utilises around 20% of the body’s energy resources daily. And most of this energy comes from the food we consume daily. Structurally, the brain is composed of mainly fat (about 60%) which are mostly omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Besides, playing an essential role in building the brain structures and development, these fatty acids act as messengers in the functions of brain neurotransmitters which signals neuronal impulses, and also helps in maturation of brain cells and the plasticity of brain cells. More on the sources of omega 3 fatty acids from my post https://wordpress.com/post/healthhappinesshealing.org/3844
2. Nutritionally, the rest of the brain structures are mainly protein, amino acids, glucose and micronutrients. Protein and amino acids are the building blocks of the brain cells. Antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables provide the essential micronutrients that fight the free radicals and enable the brain to remain alert and stable for a more extended period. Essential nutrients found in food like Vitamine B6 and 12, folic acid prevent the process of degenerative diseases in the brain. Trace minerals like sodium, copper and iron also play a role in the cognitive development of the brain.
3. Emerging studies in the past and present times have shown significant evidence to prove that healthy dietary habits have reduced the risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety and even cognitive impairment.
A meta-analysis of many studies showed with Modified Mediterranean diet: A diet which encourages large quantities of fruits, vegetable, legumes, olive oil, nuts and fishes with a moderate amount of meat and regular exercise and active lifestyle has shown to significantly improved the depression symptoms and level of depression rating measured by MADRD scale (Montogomery Asberg Depression Rating).
4. Studies have also shown that a healthy wholesome diet with many nutrients has substantial evidence to improve inflammation in the body and brain health and thereby improved the symptoms of depression which is linked to inflammation. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) level also increases with a healthy diet.
A healthy diet also changes and improve the gut microbiome in 3-4 weeks. And gut health is strongly linked with brain and mental health.
5. Food has a direct correlation with the blood glucose level in the body and brain health. Food with the high glycemic index, a carbohydrate-rich diet or maybe pasta or white bread releases glucose rapidly into the blood following which there is a dip in blood sugar which can affect our brain health like inability to focus, attention and mood. Inversely, after consuming food with a low glycemic index like oats, grains, legumes cause a slow, steady release of blood glucose which in turn help in a stable level of attentiveness and a good mood.
6. Finally, the variety of sources of food which boost brain and cognitive functions are fatty fishes, nuts, whole grains, legumes, turmeric, ashwagandha, dark chocolates apart from a wide range of vegetables and fruits.
Brain supplements are useful too but required to be used under clinical supervision.
Brain exercises like solving challenging problems, puzzles, memorising, physical body co-ordination exercises, yoga and meditation are useful for brain health.
Thanks for reading.
Blessings and much love for all 💐