In ancient Greece they used to say ‘’ Νους υγιής εν σώματι υγιεί’’ while in Rome they used to say ‘’ mens sana in corpore sano’’ both meaning ‘’a healthy mind in a healthy body’’. This was their way of living and we all know that diet means a way of living. These and other nations in the Mediterranean region believed deeply in the motto above and at the same time followed the Mediterranean diet as their way of living.
A diet for a healthy brain:
This ancient saying/axiom reminds us, once more, that it is not enough for the human brain to function properly neither is for the human body. To the contrary, we have all noticed and witnessed, one way or another that both of these ‘elements’ should work in harmony and complement each other. This is particularly important nowadays and in particular for young people that their body and brain are undergoing growth and final formation.
It should be clear that in order to keep the body and the brain healthy we should feed them with the right foods, foods that will enable them to grow properly be healthy during our entire life. It is also obvious and off course practical that we cannot have a Brain diet and a body diet. We should have a balanced diet that will nourish both the body and the brain. We should have a diet that will prevent diseases and sickness rather than curing them. This diet is not something to be invented or a diet to be devised. It is the diet that exists for many thousands of years, it is the Mediterranean diet, med diet in short.
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a diet followed by many nations in the Mediterranean Sea region. Med diet consists of fresh foods; the basis is the daily consumption of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains and legumes. It also includes frequent to medium consumption of nuts, low-fat products, like white-cheese and yogurt, olive oil and fish while for less frequent consumption recommends white meat. Red meat should be taken rarely and red wine should be consumed in moderation, usually it is recommended to have one glass daily.
Mediterranean diet for the Brain
Like any other parts of the body, the brain needs the necessary fuel to function properly and this fuel comes from our nutrition. Several studies done independently and with different scope have shown that the brain needs a balanced diet. The brain is an energy-demanding organ and a balanced diet will keep it functioning optimally. It needs a diet that will consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, nuts, low-fat dairy products like yogurt and fish that provides the omega-3 fatty acids. All of these are the basic components of the Mediterranean diet we have described earlier. Med diet also consists of antioxidants that protect the brain from damages caused from fatty acids. It is well accepted that prevention is better than curing and thus the important reason to provide the brain with all the necessary nutrition to prevent any brain damage that may result to memory problems and strokes.
It is well documented in several studies that with age comes a cognitive decline to certain extend and degree, which gradually may turn to Alzheimer’s for a certain group of people. Following the Mediterranean diet slows down the cognitive decline. Another find shows that people who have taken daily, vegetables, olive oil, fish, cereal and a glass of red wine had a slower rate of cognitive decline. In addition, people who adopted the Med diet way of living had fewer incidents of Parkinson’s and had a lower risk of depression.
Why the Mediterranean Diet is so good for the Brain?
Scientists and researchers have proven that the high consumption of fruits and vegetables in combination to the high use of olive oil in the Mediterranean foods, along with the consumption of fish, positions the Mediterranean diet uniquely as the perfect Brain diet. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants like the vitamins, A, C and E. These vitamins prevent the damage of the brain. Omeag-3 fatty acid that come from olive oil and fish can reduce inflammation in the brain.
Physical Exercise and the Brain
Physical exercise is a basic component and an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and a vital source of the Brain health. The brain needs oxygenation to function and this comes from the blood flow. It is well known that the brain uses 25 percent of the bodyís blood flow to get its nutritional needs. Physical exercise along with the med diet keep our blood vessels healthy, which in its turn means improved blood flow to the brain, resulting to better oxygenation.
Physical exercise, through the revitalization of neurons, helps to the increase of cognitive and brain functions, boosts memory and reduces the chances for neuro-degenerative diseases.
A well-functioning brain in a healthy body enables us to have the best quality of life. It is up to us to keep our body and mind healthy but the path and route for this exists and it is nothing else than the adoption of the Mediterranean diet.
Guest post by Chris. Chris is fanatic follower of healthy eating and living and the Mediterranean diet is the best you can get for a fit body and mind.
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