A Vegetable Based Diet, Helps The Brain?
In this months Psychology Today Author Kirsi Goldynia talks about brain health maintenance in her article. ‘The Roots of Mental Longevity’. This article is about how we used to be hunters and gatherers, eating plants and berries and nuts and having to do A LOT of work in order to have a successful hunt to be able to eat meat. The author surmises, that you might think that because of natural selection, these really healthy foods would have shaped our diet, it has not. One would think that genetically, what would be passed on as the survival of the fittest, are food preferences that would provide the best outcome for fuelling the mind and body.
However, that is not the case. Since we have moved from hunters and gatherers to be industrialized, we have produced a wide array of foods to choose from. Since we have domesticated animals for food consumption, we have created full industries with the soul purpose of producing food for easy consumption. There has been researched evidence that plant based diets can evert such diseases as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer. Also plant based diets have been indicated as neurologically protective.
Oxidative stress and the build up of metabolic waste suppress the function of the brain which in turn leads to cognitive decline. In order to keep the aging brain youthful, and protect against Alzheimer's, dementia, and psychological distress, antioxidants are needed to combat that oxidative stress. Antioxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans.
So how does this work?
So, the goal to a healthier life style may be in shifting food consumption towards eating plants in a more balanced way with meat maybe the healthiest lifestyle.
So lets compare plant and animal proteins.
Tofu has 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. Whereas a chicken breast has 18 grams of protein per 100 grams. Peanut butter has 7 grams of protein for 2 tbsp compared to 1 hard boiled egg which has 6 grams of protein for a large egg. Chickpeas have 41 grams of protein per cup. Parmesan cheese has 18 grams of protein per cup. Almonds have 21 grams of protein per 100 grams compared to lean ground beef that has 17 grams of protein per 100 grams.
So lets add this up based on carbohydrates.
The chicken breast, hard boiled egg, parmesan cheese, tofu, and ground beef basically add up to zero. And on the other hand the peanut butter, chickpeas, and almonds, add up to… well the chickpeas alone has 121grams of carbohydrates per cup.
There isn’t any research that can say specifically why plant based proteins are better for cognition. Instead, researchers point to the fact that the brain may do better through cardiovascular effects in regards to weight maintenance by the avoidance of obesity and the healthy maintenance of blood pressure.
The truth is, that only animal based foods give us every source of nutrient that we need. It is interesting that it is the veggie burgers, tofu bacon, and smart dogs that are mock renditions of meat, which maintain a link to animal protein for those that just eat plants. Vegetarians lack in nutrients such as B12 vitamins found in meat, D3 found in fish, as well as DHA omega-3. Tofu has been noted as having estrogen like properties which may skew hormone levels and interfere with sexual performance for men.
People often define themselves by what they eat and what they don't eat, which is linked to identity, which in turn is how people define themselves. How would you like to define yourself?
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