Our brain never stops and is responsible for countless functions: thoughts, movement, breathing, heartbeat … It works 24 hours, seven days a week, without pauses, even while we sleep. This means that in order to function well, you need a lot of “fuel” and good quality. This fuel comes from our food. Simply put, what we eat directly affects the structure and functioning of our brain, as well as our mood. That is why it is so important to adopt a healthy, varied and balanced diet that provides you with all the nutrients – amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals – that you need to function well and ensure mental and cognitive iron health.
What is a brain-friendly diet?
The Mediterranean Diet has proven its health benefits, and our brain does not escape its positive effects. Some of the principles on which the Mediterranean Diet is based are:
- A generous intake of fruit and vegetables (at least 9 servings daily) and whole grains;
- Introduce legumes in the dish;
- Preference for healthy sources of fat, such as dried fruits (more or less a handful a day), seeds and olive oil (two to three tablespoons per day, especially extra virgin olive oil);
- Low to moderate intake of dairy products, fish (two to three times a week) and poultry meat;
- Very little red meat;
- Eggs up to 4 times a week;
- Low to moderate amounts of red wine (up to one glass a day for women, two for men).
On the other hand, you should avoid a diet rich in processed foods and added sugars, which increases the risk of developing anxiety and depression, among other problems.
What does the brain have to gain from healthy eating?
The saying “we are what we eat” makes more and more sense, as more studies are being done to prove the beneficial effects that our food can have on mental health and the normal functioning of the brain. Here are some of them:
1. Get us in a good mood
What we eat has the "power" to influence how we feel and can even improve our mood and leave us with more energy. The frequency with which we eat also plays an important role. This is because if our blood sugar levels are low, we may feel tired, irritable and depressed. Choose to eat several times a day and prefer foods that release energy more gradually, keeping blood sugar levels more stable, such as whole grains, nuts and seeds.
2. Prevents anxiety and depression
There are already several studies that have shown a link between our diet and depression. The Mediterranean Diet can help not only prevent but also treat this mental health problem. Foods that are part of it, such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin B (including folic acid) and zinc that are important in dealing with depression. Eating protein sources can also be helpful, as they contain tryptophan which can help fight depression. You can get this nutrient from meat, fish (bet on fatty foods, rich in omega-3s, such as salmon and sardines), legumes, dairy products. The very moment of the meal, when we interact with each other, helps to minimize feelings of loneliness, isolation and stress.
3. Improves concentration and reasoning
Adequate water intake also plays an important role in improving our cognitive functioning, increasing the capacity for attention, memory and concentration. This means that if you do not take the recommended daily amount, you may find it difficult to concentrate and think clearly. Our ability to concentrate also depends on the adequate supply of energy – that is, blood sugar levels – to our brain, which consumes 20% of all the energy that our body needs. Blood sugar comes from eating carbohydrates – a nutrient present, for example, in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products.
4. Reduces the risk of stroke
The Mediterranean Diet can help reduce the risk of stroke, especially in women, demonstrated a study published in the scientific journal Stroke. On the other hand, an unhealthy diet can increase the risk of having this health problem, as it can lead to increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
5. Helps our brain to age well
According to a study published in the medical journal Neurology, of the American Academy of Neurology, following the Mediterranean Diet reduced participants' risk of having reasoning or memory problems by 19%. This protective effect is especially important considering that there are few effective treatments for cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Food is, therefore, the best weapon we have to postpone all these health problems as much as we can. Another study found that older people who followed this type of diet had better brain function. In addition, the intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can also be a great ally in the preservation of our memory. Unsaturated fats are present, for example, in olive oil, preferably extra virgin. In fact, it is believed that many of the health benefits attributed to the Mediterranean Diet are associated with olive oil, the fat of choice that is present in almost all dishes – whether it is to season cold salads or even to flavor soups. There are countless studies that have shown that its consumption is associated with greater longevity, but also with the decrease in cognitive decline, so associated with aging.
Olive oil: healthy fat
It is considered a healthy fat, as it brings several health benefits, and for this reason, Gallo bets on its quality and diversity. In 2018, the Portuguese brand, which already has 100 years of history, launched its first 100% organic olive oil. This year, Bio Sabor Suave joins the range, giving consumers a choice of flavor choice. Two organic and sustainable products, which adapt to different dishes (and palates):
– Fruity Flavor Bio: fruity and slightly spicy, ideal for seasoning grilled salads or vegetables and restoring energy after a yoga session.
– Bio Sabor Suave: launched this year, it is slightly sweet and was designed to be used in all kinds of hot dishes, which comfort us after a day at work.
Discover all other Gallo oils at https://www.galloportugal.com.
In addition, extra virgin olive oil increases good cholesterol and therefore reduces cardiovascular disease. A review of several studies published in the scientific journal Nutrition, also demonstrated that extra virgin olive oil has in its composition certain compounds (such as phenolics and tocopherols, both types of vitamin E) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These effects are important, as chronic or recurrent inflammation can favor the development of non-communicable diseases (also known as chronic diseases).
The choice for organic products
In addition to consumers looking to eat healthy, there are also consumers looking for products that are not only healthy, but also more sustainable. That is, they look for organic products. In recent times, care with food has increased the demand for this type of products. Attentive to the needs and options of consumers, Gallo launched a new organic olive oil, thus creating the Gallo Bio Azeite range. A range designed for everyone looking for their choices to support more sustainable production practices that promote balance with nature and soil protection. But it did more: it wanted to respond to the taste of all olive oil consumers and, therefore, in the same way that the brand already worked on different flavors in its “traditional” range, it also wanted to give consumers the option of choosing their olive oil. biological. And so, this year, to its first 100% organic oil, Gallo Bio Sabor Frutado, Bio Sabor Suave was added. Both made from carefully selected oils, of course.