Diet has a direct influence on mood, as anyone who occasionally feels a slight state of aggression due to hunger. But foods also have longer-term effects on brain health. In her new book, The Healthy Brain, Aileen Burford-Mason, former Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, explains how diet affects sleep, productivity, and mood, and can additionally prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Here are five lessons learned from his enlightening guide to brain nutrition.
- More than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
The idea that adults need five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is a myth – enough for kids ages four to eight. They need 10 servings (a ball-sized fruit, half a cup of chopped vegetables or a cup of leafy vegetables). A 12-year UK study found that vegetables provide up to four times the protection of fruit against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and brain and degenerative diseases. It’s not that complicated, writes Aileen Burford-Mason. Any daily intake beyond five servings a day increases the health benefits.
- Magnesium is an ally
Many people have a diet that does not provide enough magnesium, essential for stress management. It has been observed that deficiency of this mineral increases the level of anxiety. At least 40% of young adults in the country and nearly 70% of seniors have an inadequate intake of magnesium. It also works with calcium to ensure proper muscle function. A low level of magnesium causes our muscles to contract and feel tense. With an adequate rate, we feel relaxed. If an Epsom salt bath provides well-being, it is because this salt is magnesium sulphate. In stressful situations, the body stretches because the
stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, deplete our magnesium reserves. The brain sends a signal to the body to stay on alert, triggering the famous fight or flight response. Some of the best dietary sources of magnesium are spinach, pumpkin seeds, salmon, and whole grains, such as cereals containing bran.
stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, deplete our magnesium reserves. The brain sends a signal to the body to stay on alert, triggering the famous fight or flight response. Some of the best dietary sources of magnesium are spinach, pumpkin seeds, salmon, and whole grains, such as cereals containing bran. Among the high omega-3 foods are eggs, soy beans, tofu , linseed oil, walnuts and oily fish, such as salmon, trout and mackerel. On the omega-6 side, nuts, seeds, soybeans, corn, sunflower oil, meat, poultry, fish and eggs are among the foods that are well-endowed.