Does what we eat really impact our brain? 🧠

The nasty “D” word: Diet

Popular culture has fueled this fantasy of the “quick and easy” way to lose weight and be healthy. Over the last century, the media have pushed all sorts of weird and wacky diets, including everything from the baby food diet to the tapeworm diet (neither of which is recommended!). 

The reality is, there is no single magic bullet (we aren’t talking about the blender) when it comes to what you eat. Everyone has a different genetic makeup that scientists have discovered impacts how our bodies handle different types of nutrients, including how fast we metabolize coffee. The key is to not follow the diet most commonly found in the Western world – eat whatever you want, whenever you want it, and in as much quantity as you want.


Cracking the health code

One nutrition expert, Dr. Peter Attia, analyzed modern diets and found they all pull on three factors

1) DR – Dietary Restrictions for “what you eat” (ie. plant-based or keto); 

2) TR – Time Restrictions for “when you eat” (ie. fasting); 

3) CR – Calorie Restriction for “how much you eat” (ie. portion controlling). 

Attia explains that you should always pull on one of these factors, often pull on two, and occasionally pull on all three. An example of this could be a plant-based eater (DR) who reduces their calorie intake when they are in an off week cycle at the gym (CR) while occasionally doing a 12-36hr fast once every 6-8 weeks (TR). There’s no “right way” to pull the three levers but we urge you to adopt at least one, if you aren’t already.


“You are what you eat”: mind and body

This saying refers to more than just our body image. Modern science is helping us realize the impact that our diet has on how our brain works. Put simply, the fuel you put in your body feeds your brain.

In recent years, we have discovered that our gut and brain are connected via a 24/7 direct line of biochemical communication, called the gut-brain axis. Our gut hosts trillions of bacteria known as our gut microbiome that, among many things, creates neuroactive compounds, including 90% of our neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates our emotions. Studies have shown that people living with Alzheimer’s disease have a unique, and less diverse, community of gut microorganisms that is now being explored to reduce brain deterioration. 


The documentary creating a lot of dietary debate 

Game Changers, a new Netflix documentary, explores the plant-based diet in elite sports. It aims to debunk the long-held belief that athletes need a heavy meat-based protein diet to perform at their best. Joe Rogan and cardiologist Dr. Joel Khan debate the topic, which was followed up by a heated response from Dr. Khana.