The true conductor of the human body, the brain must be treated with care. Discover 4 eating habits from an expert to nourish it correctly and maintain good brain health.
Regardless of age, diet plays a vital role in daily health. Moreover, numerous studies reveal that healthy nutrition could delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases and promote healthy brain aging. So, by learning a few tips and making small changes to your diet, you have the power to significantly improve your brain health.
Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist, shares 4 eating habits to nourish your brain properly.
1) Consume fiber in large quantities
First of all, Doctor Uma Naidoo reminds that to take care of your brain “the first step is to increase the amount of fiber in your diet because, despite recommendations, fiber intake is often insufficient on our plates“.
Indeed, according to a study published in 2021 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, “a high intake of dietary fiber is associated with a lower risk of developing depression“. “In your diet, the best way to get fiber is to eat plant-based foods: colorful vegetables, beans and other legumes, flax seeds and even whole grains,” comments the expert.
Fiber is a complex group of carbohydrates that cannot be completely broken down by the digestive system. Thus, at the end of digestion, part of the fiber reaches the large intestine and the bacteria of the microbiota take over by feeding on these fibrous residues. It is this fermentation which maintains the balance of the flora and which generates substances beneficial to health. A healthy intestinal microbiota will therefore have a positive impact on cognitive functions, and therefore on brain health.
2) Favor aromatic herbs and spices
According to health recommendations, an adult should consume no more than 5 g of salt per day. This corresponds to the equivalent of 2.4 g of sodium. The reason ? High salt consumption can increase the risk of hypertension and therefore the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Thus, the risks of stroke and dementia are more likely.
To replace salt while keeping the flavor of your dishes, the expert shares an often forgotten solution: “Add more spices and herbs to your diet”. She explains : “spices and certain types of fresh herbs are rich in plant polyphenols, antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.” All of these properties prove to be very beneficial for the brain.
So, the doctor suggests “spice up your meals with turmeric and a pinch of black pepper, mint, oregano, parsley, thyme, ginger or garlic”and explains that these condiments “perfumes your dishes and gives them flavor, whether you are preparing soup, roasted vegetables or salmon en papilotte”.
3) Focus on probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms with particularly positive effects on health. Dr. Uma Naidoo specifies: “Gut health is very important for our brains, and our guts love probiotics.”
Indeed, as the brain is directly connected to the intestine (thanks to the vagus nerve), the quality of the microbiota is directly linked to our neurological health. Thus, probiotics are very useful in regulating the functioning of the central nervous system. They would help strengthen mental well-being by fighting depression, stress and anxiety… provided they are consumed in sufficient proportions.
Where to find probiotics? The expert adds: “you can get more healthy bacteria from fermented foods“. She also recommends “find a fermented food you like, whether it’s kefir, kimchi, yogurt or kombucha.”
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4) Eat foods containing polyphenols
The expert also advises incorporating foods containing polyphenols into your diet. Indeed, these substances are excellent antioxidants which fight against cellular aging. Polyphenols would then protect against numerous cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases.
They are found in many fruits and vegetables. Dr. Naidoo recommends: “Try to eat more foods rich in polyphenols like carrots, blueberries, strawberries, walnuts and especially hazelnuts and pecans”. Indeed, she specifies that: “all of these are extremely important, as they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well as many micronutrients that our body needs.” In the brain, polyphenols therefore play a protective role, particularly against stress factors.