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Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish and olive oil! That’s all the goodness that’s good for you…plus some lean protein (chicken/meat) once in awhile if you so desire. And oh…sometimes a sip of red wine pairs perfectly with it all…

This is the basis of the Mediterranean diet which (although thousands of years old) made the news headlines a few years back.

So whats the latest buzz about the Med diet? Researchers have studied groups of individuals, particularly those who live in Mediterranean areas (ie. Spain) and consumed a Mediterranean type diet. Not only has this diet shown to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but more recently researchers have found this type of diet to have a correlation to protecting the brain. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital  (and professor at Harvard) believes, “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” because regular ingesting of the primary foods in this diet can help to improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. All of these markers ultimately affect brain health.

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Moreover, a diet high in antioxidant rich foods, such as fruits and veggies, helps to combat oxidation stress–that’s the damage our cells undergo by free radicals. The antioxidants in the foods help repair the cells and prevent further damage.

The Omega 3 and 6’s found in fish, olive oil, nuts and some veggies work to boost your immunity and optimize your neural network (ie. more improved brain health)! Researchers are now beginning to believe that many of these foods can shave off age-related memory loss.

So if you haven’t yet added the Mediterranean diet to your own personal daily regime, it’s probably time to start. At least give it a try. Here’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, made with the anti-aging goodness of the Mediterranean in mind:

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garlicky quinoa

    Garlicky Quinoa and Garbanzo Bean Salad (with appreciation and credit to Allrecipes.com)

    This dish will get you moving “Mediterranean style” with broccoli, whole grain (quinoa), legumes (garbanzo beans), zesty herbs, lemon and not-to-miss olive oil! Notice how all of these ingredients are healthy, hearty and mixed to be especially tasty. If you prefer to add some extra (non vegan) protein, add cubed roasted chicken breast or roasted salmon for a lovely flair!

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    Ingredients

    1/2 cup uncooked quinoa                          3/4 cup chopped broccoli                         1 TSP dried tarragon

    1 cup water                                                 1 clove minced garlic                              3 TSPs coarse-grained mustard

    1 can drained garbanzo beans                   1 TBSP fresh lemon juice                       3 TBSPs  extra virgin olive oil

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    Directions

    1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender–about 15-20 minutes.
    2. Put cooked quinoa in mixing bowl and add garbanzo beans, broccoli, garlic, lemon juice, tarragon, mustard and olive oil. Stir well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

    This recipe is fairly quick and easy to prepare (10 min plus an additional 15 min of cooking time)! Voila, you can have yourself a healthy heart and BRAIN meal in under half an hour. Just what your body needs–and it works perfectly into your schedule after a long day at work or at home with the family!

    Now let it be said, that even the Mediterraneans know that just eating healthy food won’t alone necessarily optimize their health. Sprinkle in daily exercise, laughter, generosity, kindness, family time and community…and now you begin to develop an entire culture of well being and healthier lifestyle. Nothing can truly survive in a  vacuum. It all has to work in tandem: Diet-Movement-Outlook-Self Care- Gratitude-and of course your own set of beautiful genetics!

    So who is “in” for a trip to the Mediterranean with me? Salty warm ocean waters, sandy beaches or daring cliffs, sunshine, warmhearted souls, healthy food, and the best brain trip you can imagine!

    Featured photo credit: Miguel Discart via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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