Protect your brain

Do you know what neurological conditions (such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis) and psychiatric conditions (such as depression or schizophrenia) share, apart from the colossal distress they cause? They have in common very high (and long-lasting) levels of neuronal micro-inflammation with the potential to damage brain tissue.

No, your brain does not need sugar. Quite the opposite.

Food is not the only source of brain inflammation (exposure to toxins, lack of sleep and chronic stress contribute substantially), but it is a factor that exerts a considerable influence that you CAN control.

There are two types of ‘edible substances’ that carry a huge inflammatory potential and are unfortunately abundant in processed foods. On the one hand, refined vegetable oils: they are packed with trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids, and therefore become easily oxidized (i.e. soybean oil, corn oil, and any oil extracted from something that is not fatty in its natural state, but that owes its existence to ‘industrial magic’); and, on the other hand, sugar and refined carbohydrates (regardless of them being whole-grain).

Apart from its proven inflammatory effect, a recurrently high consumption of those substances contributes to increasing insulin resistance (the Pandora’s box of chronic diseases). Yes, also in the brain. This translates into chronically inflamed hungry neurons that, in spite of being surrounded by glucose, gradually lose their ability to access their main fuel and end up throwing in the towel.

Far from being unavoidable and unforgiving conditions, brain disorders can really benefit from a diet rich in healthy fats and micronutrients, and low in refined carbohydrates and processed foods. So I humbly recommend that you take a minute to consider your beloved neurons the next time you happen to face a pre-cooked lasagna or a croissant made of who knows what.

And may your shrewd ‘future you’ always wonder if it was your diet that prevented the decline of your brain.