The data is not encouraging: today all over the world there are over 46 million people with dementia, and it is estimated that they will reach 132 million by 2050. But there is also good news.
For starters, several studies have shown that those who follow the Mediterranean diet preserve their brain capacities better. We are therefore already having an advantage over, for example, the British, Germans and Americans. Not only. It has also been shown that cognitive impairment (which has recent memory loss as its first symptom) it is not inevitably linked to the genetic heritage that we inherited from our parents, but it mainly depends on what we bring to the table.
Now let's go into more detail with the help of a super expert on the subject: Lisa Mosconi, Florentine by birth, neuroscientist with a degree in integrated nutrition, founder of the Nutrition & Brain Fitness Lab at New York University and author of the very interesting book Feeding the brain (Mondadori, € 19).
CHANGE MENU IMMEDIATELY
"While the other cells of our body are renewed day by day, most neurons remain active throughout life and is therefore more vulnerable to the passage of time, ”says Professor Mosconi. “The medical community has not yet gotten to setting any guidelines for preventing brain aging and dementia, as it did, for example, for tumors, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes ».
But the question can no longer be postponed. "The brain is the organ that is most easily damaged by poor nutrition. In fact, the only way it receives nourishment is through our diet », points out our expert. "The proteins from fish, meat, eggs, legumes they are broken down into amino acids necessary to repair cell damage and build the neurotransmitters that are needed to keep our cognitive abilities at the top. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains they provide glucose (a "good" carbohydrate which is the only source of energy for the mind) and vitamins and minerals essential to be able to use it to the fullest. THE healthy fats from fish, nuts and oil seeds they are broken down into Omega 3 and Omega 6, which make our neurons flexible and strengthen the immune system. In short, our brain is literally what we eat ». And first we give him what he needs, we better help him stay young in spite of advancing age.
BET ON ORGANIC PRODUCTS
"There is one thing that all foods to be included in the diet for the brain must have in common: their biological origin and the least possible industrial transformation»Suggests Lisa Mosconi. "Plants grown without resorting to pesticides, animals raised outdoors by administering pharmacological treatments only when strictly necessary are safer and they have a better nutritional profile, because their growth (be it plants, fish or poultry) is not forced. As for industrial products (including the simplest ones), they are rarely consumed and choosing those without additives as dyes, emulsifiers and preservatives that harm neurons more than other cells ».
DO NOT MISS THE NUTRIENTS OK
“To be at its best the brain needs over 45 different nutrients», Specifies the expert. “The most important of all is water. It is now proven that dehydration accelerates brain shrinkage which occurs over the years. It has been calculated that even one minimal fluid deficiency instantly causes a variety of ailments including fatigue, mental confusion, low energy, headaches and mood swings. While it was seen that drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day it can increase brain performance by 30% ». But water can also be supplied through fruit and vegetables, smoothies, herbal teas, teas (preferably green because it is richer in antioxidants than the black one).
«Other nutrients to pay due attention to are lipids. "The only ones that the brain is unable to produce on its own (and of which it is hungrier) are the Pufa: Omega 3 and Omega 6 polyunsaturated essential fatty acids», Professor Mosconi continues. «Pufa are the most abundant fats in the membranes of neurons. They should be included in the diet daily (giving preference to Omega 3 from fatty fish, walnuts, linseed oil, chia seeds). A significant number of epidemiological studies have identified Omega 3 as the # 1 nutrient for fighting dementia and age-related cognitive decline. In particular, a research conducted involving 6000 people aged 65 and over has shown that the risk of developing Alzheimer's it was 70% higher in those who consumed less than 1 g of Omega 3 per day, while those who daily exceeded 2 g (provided for example by 90 g of wild Alaskan salmon) hardly encountered these disorders. Finally, still speaking of fats, some research has shown that the intake of monounsaturated fats (in extra virgin olive oil, avocado and olives) is associated with a better cognitive function».
In third place in the ranking of the most healthy nutrients for the brain there are proteins. “They are made up of smaller units, amino acids, than they are used to build neurotransmitters, those chemical messengers (such as serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine) which are in charge of transmitting information from one cell to another », explains Professor Mosconi. “The continuous, incessant influx of neurotransmitters is what gives birth to our thoughts, memories and words. The activity of the human brain depends on the well-orchestrated action of over 100 chemical messengers that come from a single source: what we eat».
FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
To help you feed your brain in the right way, our expert suggests you a simple weekly menu to vary according to your needs. You just have to respect the type of food (for example cereals + vegetables) and then decide what to opt for (brown rice or buckwheat, spinach or carrots ... choosing according to your tastes).
If you want, you can try the recipes suggested in the gallery below or experiment with those reported on the lisamosconi site. com. where you can also find other tips for a top brain.
THE MENU NEURONS LIKE
Above all, it provides foods of plant origin: vegetables at lunch and dinner always (especially leafy or cruciferous), fresh fruit at least once a day (giving preference to the less sugary one), whole grains and / or legumes at least 4 times a week (preferably every day). Oil seeds and dried fruit at least 3 times a week, also added to soups and salads.
As toppings: linseed oil (only raw) and evo.
To drink: plenty of water and / or herbal teas (2 liters).
Browse the gallery and find out the scheme to follow.
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + whole grains and fruit (for example: whole grain oatmeal porridge with maple syrup, walnuts and blueberries)
Lunch: legumes and vegetables (see recipe)
Snack: natural plain yogurt and / or dried fruit (for example: nuts)
Price: fish and vegetables (such as: steamed Alaskan salmon and broccoli puree)
CARROT CREAM WITH CHICKPEAS
for 1 person
Chop 1 teaspoon of onion and brown it in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Combine 250 g of thinly sliced carrots, leave to flavor, then cover with 500 ml of water. When the vegetables are soft, transfer them to a blender and blend them by adding the amount of cooking liquid sufficient to obtain a soft cream. Season with a pinch of turmeric and, if possible, no salt. Decorate with a handful of chickpeas (which you will have boiled the night before) and aromatic herbs to taste.
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + yogurt and fresh fruit (see recipe)
Lunch: cereals + vegetables (brown rice with mushrooms)
Snack: salmon roe and rice crackers
Price: Sweet potatoes + vegetables (fresh spinach salad)
YOGURT WITH FRESH FRUIT
for 1 person
Transfer 250g of plain plain yogurt (no added sugar) to a small bowl. And combine 100 g of berries to taste.
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + cereals and fruit (buckwheat porridge with dried fruit and almond milk)
Lunch: legumes and vegetables (chickpea curry and brown rice)
Snack: yogurt and fresh fruit (50 g plums)
Price: fish and vegetables (sea bass fillet with miso and dandelion)
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + yogurt and fresh fruit (goat's milk yogurt with 100 g of raspberries)
Lunch: cereals and vegetables (spelled with pesto and zucchini)
Snack: crispy spelled bread with avocado
Price: poultry and vegetables (lemon baked chicken with Brussels sprouts)
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + cereals and fruit (homemade granola with whole grain oatmeal, raisins, apple, flaxseed and raw honey)
Lunch: legumes and vegetables (lentil and radicchio burgers)
Snack: yogurt and / or dried fruit (Brazilian nuts)
Price: cheese and vegetables (see recipe)
MEDITERRANEAN SALAD WITH FETA
for 1 person
Wash a few green radicchio leaves and 1 ripe tomato. Dry them, chop them and transfer them to a bowl or holster. Combine 4-5 sliced olives and 75 g of chopped feta. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of linseed oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. And nothing goes up.
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + eggs (1-2 scrambled with fresh tomato, olives, basil)
Lunch: cereals and vegetables (mix of carrots, red beets, broccoli, cabbage, quinoa, wild rice, almonds and sesame seeds)
Snack: apple and nut butter (organic almond butter)
Price: fish and vegetables (fresh tuna and mixed salad with raw spinach)
Breakfast: cup of coffee or herbal tea + cereals and fruit (toast with avocado)
Lunch: cereals and vegetables (minestrone with wholemeal pasta)
Snack: Sunday dessert (mango and chia pudding)
Price: eggs and vegetables (1 egg omelette with vegetables + green radicchio salad)
Foods to limit or (if you can) eliminate
↘ All fast food foods;
↘ white sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt;
↘ red meats, cured meats and other processed meats;
↘ cheeses, industrial ice creams, margarine, flavored milk;
↘ refined cereal products such as white rice, white bread, corn bread, corn flakes, snacks, biscuits, crackers;
↘ ketchup, mayonnaise & Co., ready-made salad dressings, soy sauce and all refined oils (especially safflower, sesame and sunflower);
↘ sugary drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices.
Studies show that those who eat often sweets, fried foods, industrial foods, meat and dairy products with a high fat content undergoes a greater reduction in brain mass, less satisfactory cognitive performance and a increased risk of Alzheimer's compared to those who eat healthily.
- READ ALSO: The 10 foods to be smarter