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Eat Like Your Brain Depends On It

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” - attributed to Hippocrates.

Since the pioneering work of nutritionists at several academic centers beginning about twenty years ago, it has been increasingly evidenced that brain healthy nutrition can greatly reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and contribute to healthy aging and wellbeing. Dr. Bendheim’s pioneering book, The Brain Training Revolution, summarized the evidence and introduced a step-by-step guide for healthy eating based on the Mediterranean diet. About 10 years later the Harvard Guide to Cognitive Fitness included this: “Is there a diet to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s? Yes—by as much as 50%!”

Now Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist and director of nutritional & lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, has published. “This Is Your Brain on Food.” Her primary area of research is the impact on brain and mental health from metabolic processes and brain inflammation influenced by the interactions of gut bacteria with the foods we eat. Not surprisingly, she writes that a nutritious plant-based diet - vegetables, fruits, and grains; the backbone of the Mediterranean diet - provides brain benefits. Conversely, too much added sugar, fried foods, alcohol and nitrates (found in processed meats) are detrimental to your brain. Dr. Naidoo’s major focus is on psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, schizophrenia with an entire chapter about dementia. Her work joins an increasingly long bibliography of evidence-based findings documenting what brain-healthy nutrition comprises.

The bottom line: healthy brain and body nutrition is simple. As Dr. Bendheim wrote:

"Go back to natural foods in their native states. Unprocessed is better than processed. Slightly processed is better than highly processed. The more it looks like what you see growing in the fields and orchards, and the more it resembles the stuff for sale at the farmers’ market, the better it is for you.”


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