Makes me smarter just to eat fish

Right nutrition - Brain food: can you really eat smart?

They call themselves brain food, “eat yourself smart!” Has become a popular (advertising) slogan: there are plenty of guides, snacks and dietary supplements that make promises about mental fitness.

But is it really possible to feed yourself intelligence? The sobering news first: No, we can't really eat any smarter than that. Brainfood is a deceptive advertising term that is not precisely defined, says Birgit Brendel, a consultant for food and nutrition at the consumer center in Saxony. But - the good news follows directly: "There are certainly foods that are good for the brain," says the agricultural scientist. So what is possible is to get the most out of your brain through balanced eating.

Vitamin B 12: helps the brain on the jumps

And that is not rocket science: "Those who eat a balanced diet also provide the brain with sufficient nutrients," says the expert. Dietary supplements should only be considered if there is a risk of a deficit - for example, with long-term diets or with a vegan diet that may be deficient in vitamin B 12.

Vitamin B 12 is one of many nutrients that help the brain on its way. “And you don't need a miracle cure for that,” says Gunter Eckert, Professor of Nutrition in Prevention and Therapy at the University of Giessen. A balanced diet that is rich in whole grain products is particularly important.

Because they provide the body with long-term carbohydrates in the form of glucose. "Glucose is our brain's fuel," says Eckert. According to Eckert, the brain consumes almost a fifth of the daily energy requirement - that is about as much as it costs the body to run continuously.

also read: Vitamins: This is why they are so important for the body

Simply ingesting glucose, for example in the form of glucose, doesn't necessarily help. Blood sugar rises quickly, but also falls again quickly. The result: we get tired. Instead, Eckert recommends complex carbohydrates that contain long-chain polysaccharides, such as those found in cereal products, potatoes and legumes: The body gradually uses this - and thus receives long-term energy.

Sufficient fluids: Boosts brain performance

If you want to stay mentally fit, you should also make sure to consume enough proteins and fats. "The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are an important building block for the brain, are particularly important," says Eckert. They are found in fatty sea fish such as salmon or mackerel. So-called micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals, are also important for the functioning of the brain. This also includes vitamin B 12: If there is a lack of it, it could express itself in a similar way to dementia.

“The most important thing is to drink enough,” says Brigit Brendel. There is a very simple principle behind this: "The blood supplies the brain with both oxygen and glucose and all the other nutrients," says Brendel.

also read: Study: Vitamins from pills are hardly beneficial for health

Those who drink too little, on the other hand, not only get headaches quickly - the brain's performance also slows down: "The blood thickens and the brain has a poorer supply of oxygen," warns Brendel. She therefore recommends drinking at least 1.5 to two liters of water a day.

In addition to a balanced diet and sufficient fluids, exercise is also an important factor for good brain performance. "If you work a lot mentally, you should exercise moderately," says Gunter Eckert. Those who don't have to worry about sports don't have to worry: "Moderate" doesn't mean a high-performance sports program. Even 30 minutes of exercise a day, which makes the pulse rise slightly, or 75 minutes of exercise a week are sufficient.

Mediterranean diet: good for your brain and health

Basically, with a view to the brain and its health, it is less about what someone eats or not eats - but more about nutrition as a whole. Eckert recommends the Mediterranean variant. Specifically, this means: “A lot of fruit and vegetables, little meat, a lot of dairy products and only moderate alcohol. There are also nuts and olive oil in particular. ”Such a diet could possibly even help in the fight against diseases such as Alzheimer's: It has already shown success in large clinical studies.

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Monique Breteler also knows of indications that diet can influence diseases such as Alzheimer's. She headed the Rhineland Study - a large population study that has been researching factors for healthy aging since March 2016. “In previous studies, the focus was on the effects of individual food components,” says Breteler. The Rhineland study is now more broadly based. It is therefore quite possible that researchers will actually find a connection between nutrition and dementia in the future - that would then be brain food in the truest sense of the word.

By RND / Nikita Vahid-Moghtada