Brain Fitness Starts In the Kitchen

human_brain_picture_165499We have all been told by doctors, scientist and researchers, the key to healthily living is diet and exercise.  But recent research suggests exercise, not necessarily intensive exercise and eliminating processed foods can increase your life by 7 years!

 

The MIND Diet

We have all heard about the heart benefits of the Mediterranean diet, however research by, Martha Clare Morris, ScD,  who is the Director of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, Section of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology at Rush Medical College has shown the MIND diet (derived from the Mediterranean diet) significantly slows cognitive declines such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Morris’ tested more than 1,000 volunteers in the Memory and Aging Project.  She found those who adhered to the MIND diet showed brain skills to be about 7.5 years younger than those who didn’t participate in the MIND diet. She suggests by following the MIND diet, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s could be reduced by 54%.

Foods good for your brain

beansThe MIND diet focuses on “brain-beneficial foods,” such as;

  • Green leafy vegetables – at least one serving daily
  • Other vegetables – at least one serving daily
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Beans – at least every other day
  • Whole grains – three servings DAILY
  • Fish – twice a week, but not fried
  • Poultry – twice a week, not fried
  • Olive oil
  • Wine – one glass daily

 

Exercise is needed for a sharp brain

Most people would agree, a effort of even the most minimal exercise is beneficial for your body and mind.  Our forefathers constantly were moving and working, whether in fields, chopping wood or tending to livestock.  Movement helps produce a protein in our brains to keep our neurons young.  What type of exercise is best to stimulate your brain power?  Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules suggests:

  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week
  • Walk fast enough, that you cannot sing
  • When you need a little extra brain power, work out first

 

 

 

Correlation between the kitchen and your brain

What you eat can influence your memory, mood and cognition in a variety of ways.  In your digestive system you have a “second brain,” says Rebecca Katz, author of The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity.  Katz says if your stomach is unhappy, then your mind is unhappy.  If you have chronic bad bacteria in your digestive system, it could lead to systemic inflammation throughout your body, which in turn will affect the brain.  Research has linked “brain fog,” and depression as symptoms of autoimmune disorders, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes and dementia.  She recommends eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi to reduce the bad bacteria in your stomach and control body inflammation.

Research continues to prove eating healthy, non-processed foods and getting a good walk in several times a week can lead to better body and mind.

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