The healthy brain diet

If you want to keep your brain in top condition, are there food types you should avoid, and others that you should eat more of? The answer seems to be a clear yes, and today let’s look at a recent research study that points to some answers.

What we eat is a mix of three food types: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and we can optimize the percentages of each to maximize the benefits for good brain health and cognitive strength.

As presented in the October issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, lead author Dr. Rosebud Roberts and associates (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA) studied the relationship of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the diet with the likelihood of developing dementia. The researchers studied only individuals above age 59, but the results should apply to all of us, no matter our age.

They started out by analyzing the mental health of 1230 people, and from that group they selected 940 people, none of whom showed any signs of cognitive problems. The researchers then evaluated each individual’s mental capacity over the next few years.

After four years, 200 out of the 940 were showing signs of “mild cognitive impairment”—not dementia or Alzheimer’s, but subtle problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment; greater than expected age-related changes.

They also analyzed the diets of the participants, and found a correlation between diet and cognitive problems. The people who ate the most carbohydrates were nearly twice as likely to develop “mild cognitive impairment” as the individuals who consumed carbohydrates at the lowest levels. When looking at only one carbohydrate—sugar—those with the highest intake were 1.5 times more likely to show brain impairment as the people who consumed little sugar.

It may be surprising, but what seemed to protect the brainfrom cognitive problems was eating more protein and especially, eating more fats! Those with diets highest in fats were 42 percent less likely to show problems, and those with the highest protein consumption were 21 percent less likely. The researchers thought the reason was that a high carbohydrate diet adversely affects glucose and insulin metabolism, an issue we have presented here…

In summary, it seems that keeping carbohydrate consumption low, and emphasizing protein and especially fats is the way to go if you want to keep your brain functioning as well as possible.

That does not mean you should load up on just any fats, or any proteins. Choose healthy (unsaturated and especially mono-saturated) fats, like you find in nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon; and healthy proteins such as poultry, low-fat yogurt, egg whites, and again…fish!

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)