I don’t care how rich, thin, or wrinkle-free you are. If your brain’s not firing on all four cylinders, none of it counts for squat.
My patients obviously know this. They ask me about it on a regular basis. So I’m always happy to share the news that maintaining a functional mind isn’t rocket science.
What’s more, the rules of this game will definitely sound familiar. Why? Because protecting your cognitive function starts the same way as protecting the rest of your body: with food.
So today, I’d like to address a few “problem areas”… starting with the low fat diet myth.
I can’t stress enough how dangerous this absurd approach is—especially for your brain. Our brains are 80 percent fat. Eliminate it from your diet, and you’re going to hasten your mental decline.
It’s absolutely essential that you eat plenty of fat. But not just any fat.
Monounsaturated fats—like macadamia nut oil and avocado—are the very best kinds you can eat. Research has shown they can protect against cognitive decline. As can DHA, the brain-boosting omega-3 fat you’ll find in fish oil. That’s one reason why I recommend taking 3,000 mg of EPA/DHA per day.
And it’s not just adults who can benefit from this regimen. In fact, I always ask parents to load their kids up on DHA as a brain “buffer” before vaccination. And increased intake can also help everyday issues, like ADD and behavioral problems.
But you know what else can help? Avoiding processed junk.
Honestly, has anyone ever stopped to wonder why our kids are such a wreck these days? Well I can give you at least one good reason. Diets packed with chips, candy, pizza, and soda can lead to significant declines in mental health among teenagers. It’s a scientifically proven fact.
And the trouble can (and usually will) start way sooner than that. Other studies have linked a steady stream of junk food in the first five years of life—even before birth—with behavior problems in children. We’re talking everything from aggression, hyperactivity, and tantrums to worrying, depression, and anxiety.
Needless to say, adults run the same risks when they eat too much heavily processed food. Probably because it strips so many nutrients away. And gives nothing but empty calories and toxic chemicals back in return.
Will tossing the garbage from your diet and filling up on good fats improve your mental function? Without a doubt. So why does the medical community still find this news so shocking?
It’s certainly not shocking to you or me. And I somehow doubt it would be shocking to our grandparents, either. Back then, you didn’t have to distinguish between junk food and real food. Because for the most part, it was all real food.
But somewhere along the line, medicine took a wrong turn down the yellow brick road. And here we are. Trying to fix every problem with pills, when we really just need to start paying more attention to what we’re putting in our refrigerators.
You want more specifics? Well I’ve got them for you. But I’ve run right out of space here, so they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Stay tuned.
“Culinary Culprits: Foods That May Harm the Brain.” Medscape. Jan 30, 2014.