If the founding father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said: “What’s good for the mind is good for the body”, he must have been on to something. As we launch ourselves into 2017 with a long list of often unattainable resolutions that tend to focus on the physical, it is easy to forget the importance of maintaining a healthy mind.
Stressing the need to get nutrition right for the brain in order to achieve optimum nutrition for the body, Patrick Holford has designed a brain-friendly diet and tips on relieving stress which will help you get 2017 off to the best start possible and make sticking to those New Year’s resolutions a little bit easier!
Follow these 10 golden rules to make sure you are eating to maximize your mental health:
- Eat whole foods – wholegrains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables – and avoid refined, white and overcooked foods.
- Avoid any form of sugar – in biscuits, cakes, confectionery and also foods with added sugar in the forms of syrups, dextrose and maltose.
- Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily – choose dark green, leafy and root vegetables such as watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans or peppers, all raw or lightly cooked. Choose fresh fruit such as apples, pears, berries, plums, melon or citrus. Have bananas, grapes and potatoes in moderation only (they contain a lot of natural sugar). Dilute fruit juices and only eat dried fruits infrequently in small quantities, preferably soaked.
- Eat four or more servings of wholegrains daily – such as rice, millet, rye, oats, whole wheat, corn or quinoa – as cereal, breads and pasta.
- Combine proteins with carbohydrates by eating wholegrain cereals and fruit with raw, unsalted nuts or seeds, and ensuring you eat starchy foods (potatoes, bread, pasta or rice) with protein-rich fish, lentils, beans, eggs or tofu. If eating animal protein, choose lean, white meat or preferably fish, organic whenever possible.
- Eat eggs – preferably free-range, organic and high in Omega-3s. Aim for about three to five a week.
- Eat cold-water carnivorous fish. A serving of herring, mackerel, salmon or trout two or three times a week provides a good source of Omega-3 fats and protein.
- Eat raw, unsalted seeds and nuts. The best seeds are flax (or linseed), hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame. You get more goodness out of them by grinding them first and sprinkling on cereal, soups and salads.
- Use cold-pressed seed oils. Choose an oil blend containing flaxseed oil or hemp oil for salad dressings and cold uses, such as drizzling on vegetables instead of butter. Don’t cook with these oils as their fats are easily damaged by heat.
- Minimise your intake of fried food, processed food and saturated fat from meat and dairy to prevent damage to brain fats.
In order to ensure we are naturally full of energy, free of pain, happy, alert and purposeful, Patrick believes it is essential to get the balance between our mind, body and environment right.