Your weekly brain-changing content in under 3 minutes:
Ti prendi cura del tuo cervello? Think Italian for brain health.
Mental health: it’s all about that microbiome. #gutlife
This week’s content is slightly shorter, based on feedback from hundreds of you - so thanks for taking the time, we do listen, and we try to improve as we go, it’s appreciated!
We’ve cut down to 2 stories, let us know if it’s a little more manageable for you.
We are not artificial intelligence but we are always learning.
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
1. TOMATOES AND OLIVE OIL, IT'S AN ALL-BRAINER
TL;DR: Carotenoid-rich tomatoes provide all-star brain protection.
Rich in two carotenoids, beta-carotene and lycopene; tomatoes are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body from inflammation caused by free radicals, which your brain, being full of omega 3 fats, is especially prone to.
Tomatometer: 99%, Audience Score: 73%... must try harder.
Ok, these carotenoids up the ante in a host of other ways too.
Due to its role in regulating genes that control inflammation and cell growth, lycopene aids in the prevention of mild cognitive disorders and Alzheimer’s, as well as protecting against several cancers.
Not to be outdone, beta-carotene helps protect against heart disease - which has a strong connection to our brain and mental health.
Compromised blood flow from a weak heart is a major player in mental difficulties, and sufferers of heart disease are more prone to clinical depression. So, protecting against one, will protect against the other.
Ahh, new Audience Score: 91%. Much better.
No More Rotten Tomatoes
I bang on a lot about the benefits of olive oil (you may recall me telling you that I go through a full litre every week).
In this case, it supercharges the tomatoes by dissolving carotenoids to make them more easily absorbed (it has a similar effect with pretty much every other veg, but we’re all about the tomatoes today).
Try it in this quick-and-delish pasta.
Feelin’ good from my head to - ma - toes
When it comes to choosing tomatoes, the deeper the colour on the skin, the better.
That’s where all the good stuff is, so it’s also better to go with little ones to get the most nutritional value. Organic is a solid investment too, as tomatoes have got themselves a spot on the “dirty dozen” list.
Or, cut out the middleman and plant some, which (bonus!) is also good for your mental health, and offers optimal smugness when you invite me to your next dinner party, cos, I'll be honest, I'm not going to be planting any myself...
FOR THE NERDY: Everybody say tomato. [source: Psychology Today]
2. FEELING ANXIOUS? IT'S A GUT REACTION
TL;DR: Yoghurt could be the new treatment for depression - stay with me here.
These mice were depressed.
Nearly 7% of all people in the UK suffer from anxiety and depression - and as a former sufferer who struggled to cope with and talk about it myself, I understand that what you’re about to read is going to sound absurd, but I am living proof having eaten my way out of it too…
Side Note: Depression in the US is around 7% (well actually 6.7% but there’s more of them), so we can’t even blame Brexit.
Actually, we can blame everything on Brexit, but I digress, this is about a study on mice.
Didn’t you mention something about yoghurt too?
Right, sorry, here’s the good bit. Researchers at The University of Virginiareversed depression symptoms in mice by feeding them lactobacillus, a common strain of probiotic bacteria found in live-cultured yoghurt.
The amount of lactobacillus in the gut affects kynurenine, a metabolite found in the blood which has been shown to drive depression. When lactobacillus levels went down, kynurenine levels rose – and depression symptoms set in.
Turns out all those women in yoghurt commercials are happy for a reason.
It’s worth clicking on that link, my search history credibility just took a serious hit.
Anyway, although human tests haven’t been done yet, we have the same biological systems that lactobacillus uses to affect mood as mice, which suggests results would be the same.
So, eating probiotic yoghurt could be a simple and cost-effective way to deal with depression with little to no side-effects.
Not all yoghurt is created equal
If you want to get into yoghurt for your mental and gut health, make sure to look for live-cultured and probiotic on the label to get the most benefit.
Organic, unsweetened, natural versions are best too, regardless of what the yoghurt ladies tell you.
FOR THE NERDY: Whiskered lid-lickers get a mood-lift with yoghurt.[source: neurosciencenews.com]
WHAT WE LOVE THIS WEEK
Watch: Here’s 5 psychological ways to trick yourself into being better with money. One of them involves using cash… do they even still make that? (Spoiler alert: it’s pretty much all they accept in Japan. Not as hyper-modern as they claim after all!) [Youtube]
Listen: A compelling listen from BBC Radio 4 that looks into the anti-vaccination movement to delve into why people get on board with medical conspiracies. [BBC Sounds]
Read: The exercise bike: from clothes rack to status symbol. How the Peloton phenomenon took it from spinning to full-service boutique fitness, without needing to leave your living room. [Medium]
If you want to know more about how learning about nutrition for the brain improved my mental health after 9 months of crippling anxiety and sleeping 2 hours a night, which led me to starting Dawn, let me know.
It’s a bank holiday weekend - and I’ve got all the time for you.
Especially if you are struggling, but just like me, hugely sceptical that it can be anything other than your surroundings and life circumstances - I’m all ears, and have set aside my Sunday to respond to as many of you as possible.
Just tweet or DM on insta: @danmurrayserter
In the meantime - douse yourself in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and eat some yoghurt, seriously.