Eating More Plants Improves Brain Function
The more we research plant-based eating, the more benefits we find for our bodies. From helping us achieve smaller waistlines to improving our cardiovascular health, it seems like there is no end in sight when it comes to what plants can do to improve our health. Now, the scientific community is taking a closer look at how plants improve brain function, and the results are promising. Here is what we know so far about how food affects the brain, and what you should do to improve your health.
How Plants Help the Brain
Plant-based diets, like vegetarian and vegan options, work wonders for our brains. Nutrient-dense leafy greens, for example (like spinach and kale), are rich in magnesium which prevents memory loss. Other common plant-based staples like broccoli and cauliflower help the brain produce new cells. Even carrots and peppers, which are high in luteolin, combat inflammation.
Plant-based foods are also rich in countless other nutrients, which allow our brains to perform basic daily functions and fight cognitive decline. Some fruits and vegetables even prevent or lower our risk for disease, like the antioxidant-rich blueberry, which wards off the effects of oxidative stress (a possible cause of diseases like Alzheimer’s).
These nutrients don’t just help with brain development and function either, they also provide much-needed stress relief. Folate in particular (a major nutrient found in spinach) helps our body produce dopamine and serotonin – important neurotransmitters that stabilize mood and fight depression. Even common herbs like oregano and basil have positive mental effects.
But Meat Has Nutrients Too…
You might be thinking plant-based foods are high in nutrients, but aren’t they missing B12 and protein (which our brain cannot function without)? While meat does provide us with necessary nutrients, it does not come without consequences (just look at your recent cholesterol screening, if you are a frequent meat eater). In fact, those who eat meat have higher risks and rates of heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
While we need more research about the effects of meat on the brain, current studies suggest that eating it often may put the brain in danger. This is because meat, which is high in iron (sometimes higher than we need) can cause oxidant damage, possibly increasing one’s risk for neurodegenerative disease.
Combine this information with all the other well-known risks of a meat-based diet, like a shorter lifespan and negative impact on the environment, and plant-based diets are clearly the winner when it comes to our body and mind. What little supplementation one might need on a plant-based diet is a better alternative than a diet heavy in meat.
Should You Go Plant-Based?
For most people, the thought of moving to a plant-based diet is daunting. But, despite common misconceptions, plant-based diets have all the nutrients you need for optimal brain health. While you will have to be more aware of what you are eating to get the right amounts of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, those particularly worried about any deficiency simply need to consult with local health screening services. Poct laboratory testing can identify any potential gaps in nutrition.
Eating plant-based gives you the benefit of a well-balanced brain-healthy diet without the risk to your health from meat. Not only will you get a full range of nutrients that boost brain productivity, your mental health will be supercharged too! Everyone, including your doctor, community health education programs, and health and wellness services have been boasting about the effects of a plant-based diet. We all know what it can do for your body, now see what it can do for your mind!