Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist and bestselling author, knows that holistic eating has many benefits to the brain and the whole body. The brain is command central and if it does not receive quality nutrition, how can it perform its many functions? Dr. Daniel Amen educates people about how nutrition plays a role in psychiatric conditions and how it can be used as part of a treatment plan.
Cognitive function refers to the activities in the brain that are involved with knowledge. This includes memory, learning, language, attention and judgment. A poor diet will negatively impact all these functions. Here are some of the benefits of holistic eating to the brain.
Protein and Dopamine
Eating lean protein throughout the day allows the production of dopamine by the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps with a person’s attention span and helps them concentrate. It also helps elevate the mood and makes a person feel good. Some foods that provide high quality protein are: salmon, chicken, turkey, lean pork, lean beef, eggs, low-fat dairy products, beans and walnuts.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Most of the brain consists of DHA, which is a form of omega-3 fatty acids. The synapses and neurons in the brain are mainly DHA, so omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the brain to work properly. These healthy fats help reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. They help lower blood pressure, are heart-healthy, and can help with depression. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in: avocados, extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, salmon, nuts and nut butters.
One reason people are advised to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables is the antioxidants they provide. Antioxidants control the formation of free radicals. Too many free radicals in the body cause the brain to age and its functions to slow down. They damage the immune system and contribute to cancer and Alzheimer’s, among other diseases. Vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene are powerful antioxidants. Some of the best fruits and vegetables to eat are: all berries, avocados, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cherries, oranges, kiwis, oranges, plums, red grapes, spinach, and red bell peppers.
Almost one third of the calories that are consumed are used by the brain so those calories need to contain the proper ingredients that will improve cognitive function. Processed foods with white flour, white sugar, unhealthy fats, salt and artificial ingredients will not help the brain perform at a high level nor will it help a person look good and feel good.