Eating to benefit your brain health may seem like a novel approach to health but what if it’s backed by science?
Leading a healthy lifestyle involves regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. Different people have different nutritional requirements and as such, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ diet. This is especially true for people who have pre-existing conditions that may put emphasis on certain nutrients over others.
People with diabetes are often asked to lower their sugar intake whereas people with hypertension, should cut down on their salt intake. However, what about people who may want to beef up their brain function and fight off degenerative brain disorders?
The brain is one of the most important organs in our body and doesn’t rest even when you sleep. It is the control centre of your whole body and governs actions such as walking, talking, swallowing, breathing, tasting, heartbeat and more. Degenerative disorders that involve the brain include Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and these diseases are also strongly linked to the ageing process.
Dr. Takuji Shirasawa has written a healthy cook book called ‘Food for the Brain’ specifically for readers in Malaysia and Singapore with recipes tailor-made to fit local tastes. Dr. Shirasawa is the Professor of Ageing Control Medicine at Dokkyo Medical University, Department of Physiology; and Visiting Professor of Neurology at the Medical School of the University of Michigan. He has been researching molecular pathology and the molecular genetics of gerontology for the past 20 years and is also the Director of the Japan Anti-Ageing Association, Japan Biogerontology and Biorehabilitation Association.
‘Food for the Brain’ aims to highlight the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids and MCTs in reducing the risk of dementia, diabetes, stroke and excessive weight gain in the form of delicious recipes for the Malaysian public.
Dr. Shirasawa’s book is divided into two sections; the first of which focuses on information around his research.
Dr. Shirasawa’s research hones in on the effects of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) and Omega 3, present in coconut and fatty fish. When consumed daily, these can help to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The information and research section of the book is presented in a simple manner, which makes it easy for readers to understand. Additionally, the book is printed in larger font so the content is more accessible for older readers.
The second half of the book features 40 healthy recipes. Each of the recipes is accompanied with an image of the dish or beverage plus a nutritional analysis of calories.
Additional tips such as benefits of the ingredients and amount of MCT or Omega 3 in the dish are also provided. The recipes are divided into food and drinks such as Breakfast, On-the-Go and Snacks, Main Meals and Sides, along with Drinks and Desserts so it’s easy for readers to flip to the sections that are of interest.
Dr. Shirasawa says that it’s never too early to start choosing healthy foods and we should begin eating this way from childhood. He hopes that this cookbook will provide Malaysian readers with solid scientific facts and figures along with healthy and delicious food that will benefit the brain. Everyone, from senior citizens and their caregivers to young people who want to make a positive change in their long term health can benefit from this recipe book.
It is important to note that a diet rich in healthy fats isn’t a cure for a degenerative brain disease but, under laboratory settings, they may help improve overall health and possibly delay the onset of these diseases. As with any new diet regime, please do check with your health provider before you begin in order to prevent any unwanted side effects that may occur.