Better brain health : We Are What We Eat

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  • Food has rarely been under so much scientific scrutiny. The West is convulsed by an ‘obesity epidemic’ blamed on sugar and oily snacks. At the same time, much of the developing world is being robbed of its best farmland to grow cash-crops for Western consumers. Yet one aspect that seems to be immune from criticism is the quality of expert food advice.

    Chocolate reduces stress. Fish stimulates the brain. Is there any truth to such popular beliefs? The findings of researchers around the world say yes: It appears we really are what we eat.

    A study in a British prison found that inmates who took vitamin supplements were less prone to violent behavior. And in Germany, a psychologist at the University of Lübeck has shown that social behavior is influenced by the ingredients consumed at breakfast. But what really happens in the brain when we opt for honey instead of jam, and fish rather than sausage? Scientists around the world are trying to find out. Neuro-nutrition is the name of an interdisciplinary research field that investigates the impact of nutrition on brain health.

    Experiments on rats and flies offer new insight into the effects of our eating habits. When laboratory rats are fed a diet of junk food, the result is not just obesity. The menu also has a direct influence on their memory performance. The role of the intestinal flora has been known for some time, but scientists are currently discovering other relationships. So-called “brain food” for example: The Mediterranean diet that’s based on vegetables and fish is said to provide the best nutrition for small grey cells.

    Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, for example, protect the nerve cells and are indispensable for the development of the brain – because the brain is also what it eats!

    Better Brain Health: We Are What We Eat presents an in-depth view of a growing field of research that continues to uncover new possibilities and conclusions. Along the way, we understand the importance of nutrition and learn how we might be capable of retraining our brains to seek out healthier alternatives.

    Directed by: Raphaël Hitier


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