The gut is the second brain.This is so because there are almost 600 million neurons in the Enteric Nervous System, that starts from the esophagus to the anus, that allows it to operate independently of the brain and the spinal cord; unlike any other organ in the body. Note, this is where everything we put in our mouth goes through. While there’s alot of focus on nutrition and the physical well-being, nutrition is also directly related to the mental well-being of all individuals. Fun Fact; 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut, the chemical responsible for happiness and well-being. Nutrition therefore has a significant impact on our mental health as it also impacts on memory and function. Nutrition therefore not only impacts on how we feel; the lack thereof predisposes us to mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Interventions for Neurodegenerative Delay), or if this sounds easier for you, brain food, is a diet specifically designed to preserve the well-being of our brains. Mind blowing right? This diet focuses on 15 foods;10 that are encouraged (Green leafy vegetables, All other vegetables, Berries, Olive oil, Fish, Poultry, Nuts, Wholegrains, Beans and Wine;not more than a glass a day) and 5 that we could limit (Butter/Margarine, Red meat, Cheese, Fried food and Sweets).
Research shows that the MIND diet;
- Significantly lowers the likelihood of developing neurodegenrative disorders like Alzheimer’s. This is because these foods aid in reducing the death of neurons, and the development of beta Amyloid, a protein greatly involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Greatly impacts on memory and functioning.
- Has some physiological benefits like working against hypertension from the integration of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
- Works to stabilize blood sugar hence helps in preventing cravings.
- And finally, Promotes the maturity of our tastebuds, allowing one to enjoy the flavors found in whole foods.
Talk about killing multiple birds with one stone.
Food is important, more so healthy food. The simplest and most natural way that we can use to boost our mental well-being, is to be intentional in what we eat and, the MIND diet would be a great addition in your transition to a healthier lifestyle. Whether you are the type to dive right into it, or adopt a slow but sure approach, just remember to be consistent.
By: Pendo G.N Ochola
Psychologist- Digital Department.