You might think that the only way your diet could have an effect on your mental well-being is what is in your food, but it turns out, the texture may have just as much to do with keeping your mind healthy.
Previously, the healthcare industry had recommended a variety of foods that help prevent certain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's. These included leafy greens, whole grains, berries, and spices like cinnamon, sage, turmeric, and cumin.
They also warned against toxins that would have a negative impact on your brains ability to function. The usual suspects of caffeine, sugar, drugs and alcohol, and of course, stress, were all clear factors contributing to an unhealthy mind.
Dementia is a blanket term for when an individual's ability to think begins to break down, with an apparent loss of cognitive ability or intelligence being key symptoms. Common flags for dementia include memory loss, indecision in basic tasks, and finding it hard to identify close family members and friends. This syndrome has done a lot of damage to families, and researchers are desperately looking for ways in which to find a cure and prevent it from happening in the first place.
In a recent study, scientists have found that it is the process of chewing that could have a significant effect, due to the nature of our traditional eating habits.
Whereas most people throughout history have been eating a diet based on raw foods, now-a-days we find ourselves sustained by overly processed meals that are made to be easily consumed. This is especially an issue as people get older and their teeth begin to decay or fall out.
So how does eating tougher foods actually prevent dementia and other brain maladies?
A study done several years ago found that a loss of teeth raised the risk of dementia. What they discovered was the act of chewing make more blood flow through the brain, so therefore people with less teeth do less chewing, and their brains are less active.
It began with them noticing that seniors who say they have difficulties chewing hard foods had a larger risk of developing dementia. Before they could say for certain however, they put together another study which used mice in a laboratory setting.
As it turns out, mice that were fed powdered chow (as opposed to solid foods) were much less likely to recall events that had happened 24 hours later. They finally had proof that long-term memory was affected by one's diet!
So what should you be eating in order to keep your mind and body healthy?
As the scientists in the study revealed, it is our present day society that has more cases of Alzheimer's and dementia than our ancestors. They trace this back to the raw diets that have existed until only recently in human civilization.
Since chewing is the basis for a healthy mind, many unprocessed foods can play a role in keeping the blood flow present and your thoughts active and alert!
Try partially-cooked vegetables!
Not only does eating vegetables in a more raw form make you chew more, but it keeps more of those healthy nutrients from breaking down, so you feel better too!
As we find ourselves in autumn, there are a ton of harvest veggies that are available now more than ever! Try getting your hands on some pumpkins, butternut squash, and asparagus before it gets too cold. Also, keep your eye out for root vegetable like carrots, beets, parsnips, and potatoes, which are naturally tougher and more fibrous!
When steaming, roasting or broiling these, try taking them out 5-10 minutes sooner than usually. That way, you know they are cooked all the way through but they still have a crunchy quality to them!
Or thicker pieces of meat?
No matter if you enjoy chicken more than pork, or lamb more than beef, there are a few ways you can ensure you are taking care of your mind while you chow down.
First, you should try cooking your meats a little longer. While this is a no-brainer for chicken and pork, if you enjoy your steak more on the rare side, maybe consider going for a medium sear, or getting that chicken a little extra crispy!
By cutting your meats into larger pieces, you will also force yourself to chew for longer periods of time. This should just be done for yourself though, make sure you only give children small pieces!
Nuts have long been held by nutritionists as super-foods for preventing mental decay, and as long as you are not allergic, you can feel good about indulging in a delicious snack that will keep you happy and healthy!
Some good choices are almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, and pecans for their high levels of omega-3s, magnesium, folate, vitamin E and many others.