How Diet Influences the Brain

light-brain_132796_4We know the old expression: You are what you eat. Now, a fascinating report from BrainFacts.org clarifies that, most certainly, our brains are what we eat: “You may have witnessed the short-term effects of food on your brain: a sugar rush after too much candy or a mental fog from hunger. But what we eat also affects us in the long term. Starting in the womb and continuing into old age, our diets don’t just shape our bodies, but our brains as well.”

The piece continues: “Poor diets lead to a host of medical issues: obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. But diet also influences the brain and can increase the risk for mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers are uncovering the details of how the foods we consume affect our cravings, our moods, and even our memories.”

Perhaps most interestingly, scientific reports are showing how “overall diet — particularly its effect on weight — continues to influence the brain into old age.” For example:

  • “Some studies have found a link between body weight and the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for learning and memory.”
  • “Other research in humans suggests that obese people score lower on memory tests, but losing weight through bariatric surgery can improve scores.”
  • Other tests suggest that “chronic inflammation wears down the brain, leading to memory problems.”

More information on was reported by the New York Times here: “How Fat May Hurt the Brain, and How Exercise May Help.”

The BrainFacts.org conclusion: “Our brains are sculpted by what we eat. If it’s too much fat, too much sugar, or just too much, there may be permanent consequences for our brain function. Keeping our brains in shape is one more reason to clean up our diets.”