Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eat The Right Food For A Healthy Mind And A Healthy Body.

"Man is what he eats"
Ludwig Feuerbach

That we are what we eat is a true dictum. Food is medicine. Thus eating the right food at the right time is important for our health. Unfortunately, many of my patients don't eat breakfast and have barely enough time to eat lunch. Thus they rely on their dinner for most of their nourishment and fill their whole day with high calorie drinks, snacks and junk food. When this happens they perform poorly at work because the brain needs food to be able to function well. It also has impact on their health as their unhealthy eating habits take their toll on them eventually. The following is an article culled from the New Scientist about the importance of healthy eating.

Many studies have shown that skipping breakfast reduces people's performance at school and at work since the brain needs a steady supply of glucose. According to research published in 1993, children eating breakfast made up of fizzy drinks and sugary snacks performed at the level of an average 70-year-old in tests of memory and attention.

Beans on toasts are a far better combination as researchers from the University of Ulster, United Kingdom discovered. Toast alone boosted children's scores on a variety of tests. However, when the tests got tougher, the breakfast with the high protein beans worked best. Beans are also good source of fiber. Researchers have shown a link between a high fiber diet and improved ability to process facts with the brain.

A smart choice for lunch is omelet and salad. Eggs are rich in choline, which your body uses to produce the chemical in the brain called acetylcholine. This is a chemical that transmits information between the nerve cells. Researchers at Boston University found that when healthy young adults were given the drug scopolamine which blocks acetylcholine receptors in the brain, it reduced their ability to remember word pairs. Low dose of acetylcholine is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies suggest that boosting dietary intake may slow age-related memory loss.

A salad packed with antioxidants, including beta carotene and vitamins C and E, should help keep an aging brain in good condition by helping to remove damaging free radicals. Dwight Tapp and colleagues form the University of California at Irvine found that a diet high in antioxidants improved the thinking skills of 39 aging beagles.

Yogurt is a good desert after lunch. It will make you alert and ready to face the afternoon stresses. This is because yogurt contains the amino acid tyrosine that is needed for the production of neurotransmitters dopamine and adrenaline, among others. Studies in the US military indicate that tyrosine becomes depleted when we are under stress and that supplementing your intake can improve alertness and memory.

Have a snack in mid afternoon to maintain your glucose levels. However avoid junk foods and especially highly processed foods such as cakes which contain tans-fatty acids. These pile on the fat and have been implicated in many mental disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) to autism. Researchers at a neuroscience meeting in 2005 in San Diego, California reported that rats and mice raised on the rodent equivalent of junk food struggled to find their way around a maze and took longer to remember solutions to problems they had already solved.

Triglycerides, cholesterol-like substance found in high levels in rodents fed on trans-fats might be the culprit. When the researchers gave these rats a drug to bring the triglycerides down, the animals did better on their memory tests.

Brains are about 60% fats. If trans-fats clog up the system. What should you eat to keep it well oiled? Evidence is mounting in favor of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA. Hence fish is the best food for the brain. It lubricates and feeds the developing brain and prevents dementia. Studies published in 2005 showed that older mice from a strain genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s had 70 per cent less of the amyloid plaques associated with the disease when fed on a high-DHA diet.

Finally, finish your evening meal with strawberries and blueberries. Rats fed on these fruits have shown improved coordination, concentration and short-term memory.


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