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Let’s face it; nutrition has become a new religion.
And if you choose to become a disciple of a particular religion there is of course a guru to follow to ensure you don’t deviate from your chosen path.

Having recently sat through another presentation by yet another nutrition guru telling us nirvana would only come from following his extremely limited regime, I wondered how we ended up with all this confusion and hype.

Because food doesn’t need to be complicated.
We’ve just made it that way.

As far as eating for a healthy body and brain goes, it’s time to go back to the basics. We all need a variety of foods to provide us with the essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates to stay fit and well.

Good brain health depends on healthy nutrition. Which foods you choose are of course personal choices, but you can’t go too far wrong by sticking to natural unprocessed foods that are in season or locally sourced.

Food fads come and go and there is no one optimum diet or super food that is the panacea. Look at what the Inuit eat compared to the Chinese, or South Americans, Africans, Europeans, or South East Asians. Across the world, we eat a huge variety of different foods.

The one diet not recommended is the one that unfortunately too many Westerners eat today because it includes a lot of sugar, trans fats and processed food. This is contributing to the increasing level of type two diabetes and obesity we are witnessing in society.

Both of these conditions put us at increased risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s, so it really does pay to take note of what you are eating and make some adjustments as needed.

The one diet that has attracted a lot of attention as far as brain health goes, only because it is the one that has been most closely studied, is the Mediterranean diet. Long-term studies have shown that people who adhere most closely to this style of eating keep their memory and cognition intact for longer. That sounds good to me! The components of the Mediterranean diet that are so good for us include leafy green vegetables, seafood, olive oil, seeds and nuts and whole grains.

To boost your thinking and keep those neurons zinging, let’s take a quick look to see which brain healthy foods you can include at each meal:

Eggs are great little power houses of high quality protein coupled with some vital extras including choline and xanthine.
Whole grains as a porridge or home made muesli
Add some deeply pigmented fruit: blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries
Now your brain is fuelled up to really kick start your day

Why not choose a sandwich, a wrap or a salad with a mix of different greens, a sprinkling of seeds and nuts.
Add some lean protein, such as fish as tuna, salmon or sardines. Or maybe some chicken or lean meat. That will keep your brain powered up to get you through your afternoon.

Healthy snacks include a small handful of nuts, a yoghurt or piece of fruit

Start with lots of veggies first for 2/3rds of your plate then add your choice of protein.
Finish with some fruit or yoghurt

…and maybe a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate and a glass of your favourite red. Yum.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated unless we make it so.

Good brain health starts with eating those foods that are predominantly plant based before adding in the extras.
Eating cold-water oily fish three to four times a week provides you with lots of omega-3 that your brain needs for optimal performance.

The bonus is, eating well not only makes you feel good, restores your vitality and boosts your energy, it makes you feel less tempted by those other foods that are less good for us but we can enjoy as an occasional treat.

Rather than zooming off to follow the next fad diet, designed to make you feel guilty and lighten your wallet, why not look to add one extra portion of fish to your diet each week, or a new vegetable you haven’t tried before.

What have you done to help keep to a healthy way of eating?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/50355823@N08/8593849532/”>RobertDennis</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a>

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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