Q: I understand that gut and brain has a huge connection. Can you suggest some foods that are good for the brain?

A: The gut microbiota plays a huge influence in regulating the functioning of brain cells. To dive deeper into the topic, it helps to look into a phenomenon known as brain ageing. Brain cells generally have a slower aging process than all other organs of the body as they have certain defence mechanisms. But, a process known as the epigenetic regulation happens to every cells including the brain cells wherein the DNA strands, specifically the chromosomes in the double stranded DNA, break. This process is known as X differentiation, after which the DNA strand reorganises itself. This process is known as aging.

Causes of brain cell aging include exposure to toxins, chronic inflammation, chronic stress, poor diet, and frequent intake of processed and ultra-processed foods.

Several studies have identified that a Mediterranean-like diet that contains more of plant-based foods that are rich in Vitamin B, folate, catechins and antioxidants can help in considerably slowing down the process in which the cell losses its identity. A Mediterranean-like diet also has beneficial effects on cognitive performance and memory.

Some foods that help maintain brain health are:

• Green leafy vegetables that are rich in B vitamins and folate

• Sprouts are very beneficial to boost the body’s defense against DNA damage

• Dark Chocolate. Rich in catechins. Serves as a protective component for mitochondria

• Matcha Green Tea has a potent antioxidant that helps in boosting production of mitochondria

• Avocado and other nuts and seeds which are rich in healthy fats

• Fermented prebiotic and probiotic foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut.

Most of the above mentioned foods are said to boost the levels of a protein called Brain-derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF). This growth factor is essential for the maintenance of existing nerve cells and the production of new nerve cells (neurogenesis).

Rashi Chowdhary is nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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