Brain regeneration Part 2, the diet that protects the mind
The brain is able to reorganize, to regenerate and modify itself in response to trauma, experiences or diseases. In order to exploit its maximum potential and guarantee its plasticity, it is necessary to take care of the brain as well as any other part of the body. Today we see how dietary choices can be beneficial for brain regeneration..
For a long time, it was believed that the brain could not regenerate itself and that it was static. When a connection between neurons died it could no longer be replaced. However, in recent years and thanks to scientific research, this belief has been completely changed. It is now known that the brain is dynamic, it adapts, reorganizes itself and can be regenerated, not only for the first few years of life but for the whole duration of our life (Fuchs et al, Neural Plast, 2014 - Tobin et al, Cell Stem Cell, 2019). This brain ability is called neuroplasticity. But for the brain to reach its maximum plasticity this must be kept in training. In the previous article we saw how physical activity contributes to protecting neuroplasticity. Today, we see the role of diet.
Even what we eat can help maintain the function of brain synapses, that is, the connections between neurons, and neuroplasticity (Gomez Pinilla et al, Nat Rev Neurosci, 2008). In particular, a protective action is carried out by foods rich in omega 3, such as flax seeds, krill, chia seeds, kiwi fruits and walnuts, while foods that supply large quantities of saturated fats, such as coconut oil, palm oil, lard and meat can even increase the risk of neurological dysfunction. Turmeric, thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to slow down cognitive impairment in case of Alzheimer's disease but also in case of brain trauma. The flavonoids contained in green tea, cocoa, dark chocolate and citrus fruits have shown, when combined with physical activity, to increase cognitive function also in the elderly. And don’t also forget the neuroprotective role of vitamins. Vitamin B6, B12 and folate have been shown to improve memory, vitamin D, which is found in oily fish such as salmon, mushrooms and foods supplemented with this vitamin, is important for preserving cognitive function in the elderly, Vitamin E, which is found in asparagus, avocados, walnuts, peanuts, olives, spinach and wheat germ, reduces cognitive impairment in the old people. The polyphenols of berries should also be included in the diet, as they have proven to be able to increase the neuroplasticity of the hippocampus, memory and learning ability. Finally, a neuroprotective action on the brain is also carried out by extra virgin olive oil (Sangiovanni et al, Neural Plast, 2017).