It takes intelligence – wholemeal pasta and bread, oily fish, coffee, fruit and vegetables, and even a glass of red wine. These are the foods which help to counteract brain ageing, helping it to stay healthy. This is what emerges from the “Feeding the Brain” convention, organized by the Lombardy Region and the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute within the scope of the activities in Palazzo Italia at Expo 2015. Food can be a medicine for the brain in the real sense of the word and the Mediterranean diet confirms its leading role in the prevention of brain pathologies such as Alzheimer’s.
What is the best diet for the brain? Without doubt the Mediterranean diet – and a glass of red wine with meals, alongside a good plate of pasta, can help prevent the loss of cognitive capacities which comes with ageing. Explaining the relationship between a healthy diet and the health of the brain in particular, was neurologist Giancarlo Logroscino, professor at the University of Bari Aldo Moro. “The brain,” he said, “is a machine of high energy consumption which needs certain types of ready-to-use fuels, such as glucose. Furthermore the brain is a highly vascularised organ, and one of the most important discoveries of the last 25 years is that risk factors for vascular damage are also risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases and Alzheimer’s”.
One of the factors linked to cardiovascular risk is the consumption of large quantities of red meat, butter and alcohol, which consequently may also favour the onset of neurodegenerative processes. “Vice versa”, the neurologist said, “the consumption of white meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, pulses and moderate quantities of red wine with meals, together with other lifestyle choices, such as physical exercise and weight control, can help to protect against cardio- and cerebrovascular risks”. Also in this case, prevention starts at the table and with correct eating habits such as in the Mediterranean diet, the cornerstones of which rest on the consumption of complex carbohydrates such as those found in pasta and cereals.
At the same time, it is good for the brain to stick to healthy eating habits: never skipping meals, starting with breakfast and keeping regular mealtimes can in fact reduce the onset of migraines.