What are the wrong foods? Well, they can be the usual culprits such as refined carbohydrates, and the wrong fats, but they can also be anything your body is sensitive to, even though that food might be healthy for someone else. It could be corn or eggs or tilapia or limes, for example. I recently had a client who ate a pristine home cooked diet, including an abundance of home grown organic vegetables and herbs. He was also a competitive athlete and got lots of exercise but he suffered from brain fog and lack of focus, which was affecting his marriage and his work. It was discovered that eggs were the culprit. Since he didn’t have any other symptoms when he ate eggs, he had never made the connection, and he regularly consumed eggs. If you are sensitive to a particular food, this causes inflammation and that inflammation then affects the brain. There is a saying – “gut on fire = brain on fire”. The two are linked directly through a huge nerve – the Vagus nerve.
It also turns out that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain. The Mediterranean Diet – when consumed in the traditional manner with an emphasis on vegetables, legumes, nuts, olives and fruits – not pizza, is the healthiest for both. There is a new variation on the Mediterranean diet called the MIND diet, developed by Martha Claire Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center. The diet is designed to slow cognitive decline and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and early research indicates that it is effective. It emphasizes leafy greens and berry consumption, two elements of the Mediterranean diet known to impact brain health. Another connection between cardiovascular health and brain health is that the brain requires good circulation in order to receive sufficient oxygen. If oxygen is low, the brain cannot make the needed neurotransmitters. We all know that there is a connection between diet and the health of our arteries and veins. One indicator of the health of your vascular system is your blood pressure. There is also a connection through a naturally occurring metabolite – homocysteine. When it gets too high in the blood, it is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease and homocysteine also attacks memory and cognition. A study of 1,140 people found that higher homocysteine levels were associated with poorer function across a broad range of cognitive functions. Supplementing your diet with a mix of B6, B12 and folate can lower homocysteine. This can take time, but Oxford researchers found that supplementing with this vitamin mix over a two-year period lowered homocysteine and cognitive testing scores jumped by up to 70%.
A good resource for getting started with a Mediterranean Diet is the Oldways organization which provides information on traditional diets. From the website you can download recipes and purchase menu plans.
Another good resource for recipes and Mediterranean diet meal planning is:
If you are struggling with mood symptoms, fogginess or any other physiological symptoms, it’s worth a look at your diet and a consultation with a nutritionist who understands the connection with food and our brains.