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Brain Health And The Keto Diet

diet-and-lifestyle-affecting-your-brain
“<i>Health and fitness are a lifestyle!</i>” Heard that before? We’re sure you have. People that make healthy habits a part of their lives know that it’s much more than just exercising and dieting. In the end, it becomes a lifestyle―something you can’t live without. Going back to feeling sluggish and sick feels pretty undesirable once you have experienced feeling vibrant, energized, and lean. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/">**Transforming your body**</a> is one benefit from a healthy diet and regular exercise, but there are so many more. Take, for example, your brain health. Maybe improved cognitive function is not the first thing you think about when it comes to eating well or moving more–but it’s a proven benefit <sup>1</sup>. In this article, we’re tackling a few big questions: <i>How does brain health improve with diet and exercise? and Can the ketogenic diet (and Warrior Made lifestyle) make my brain healthier, too?</i> <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Does Diet Affect Brain Health?</p></h4> Remember that old saying “<i>You are what you eat</i>”? Well, they weren’t just talking about your waistline. Sure, a poor diet can lead to obesity and diseases like cancer or diabetes<sup>2</sup><sup>,</sup><sup>3</sup>. But it can also affect the vital organ between your ears: the brain. Research shows that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish may result in larger total brain volume, and therefore, improved long-term brain health<sup>4</sup>. <i>What does that mean?</i> Basically, healthy dieting delays the process of degeneration in brain cells as you age. Eating wholesome foods keeps your brain functioning optimally now, while also helping to prevent things like dementia down the road. Science even links a healthy diet for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. A few <a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/15-simple-diet-tweaks-cut-alzheimers-risk/art-20342112">**simple tweaks to your diet**</a> (many of which are keto-approved) may help decrease the risk of disease. <h5><p style="color: #000000">Can Diet Affect My Memory?</p></h5> Are there other brain health-related functions impacted by diet? There sure are. In fact, there’s a lot of research linking improved diet to better memory and delaying dementia later in life<sup>5</sup>. Again, they recommend a diet full of veggies, fish, healthy oils, and fruits. <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img class="img-fluid" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/gut+bacteria+brain+health.jpeg" alt="gut+bacteria+brain+health"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> <p>We’re obviously starting to see some patterns here. What goes in your mouth contributes to how your brain functions and the science suggests that an array of these foods can have a positive impact on your memory and more.</p> <p>Of the eleven foods <a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods"><b>Healthline recommends</b></a> for improved memory, their number one suggestion is fatty fish packed with omega-3s.</p> </div> </div> Actually, understanding the relationship between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may help you better understand diet, brain function, and memory<sup>6</sup>. The main difference is that omega-6 fatty acids consumed too liberally can lead to negative things like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/can-ketosis-reduce-inflammation/">**inflammation**</a>. Omega-3s, on the other hand, support heart, brain, and liver health and can even promote weight loss. They can be consumed liberally by eating fatty fish like salmon or supplementing with fish oil. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Gut Bacteria and Brain Health</p></h4> Over the past twenty years, science has increasingly looked to the gut for answers about our health. The main reason is that early studies suggested that healthy gut bacteria may be the missing piece to solving a lot of the world’s current health epidemics like cancer and obesity. One of the most researched areas of gut health, surprisingly, is its relationship with brain function and mental health<sup>7</sup>. Early research suggested a link between things like autism spectrum disorder and depression, among others. But how exactly are the two linked? <h5><p style="color: #000000">Gut Bacteria and the Brain: How Are They Related?</p></h5> The brain has a direct effect on the gut and intestines<sup>8</sup>. An example all of us can relate to is when we begin feeling hungry. When we experience hunger sensations, the brain actually stimulates the release of stomach acids to be used for digestion before the food ever gets to the stomach. And that link works both ways, too. The stomach can <i>also</i> send signals of distress to the brain. This is why things like anxiety and stress sometimes lead to digestive issues, or over the long-term, the development of stress-induced ulcers. What’s even more important to consider is the link between a poor diet and brain health. A diet composed of inflammatory foods (think processed and sugary) has also been linked to anxiety and depression due to an imbalance of gut bacteria<sup>9</sup>. While we don’t always consider the word <i>bacteria</i> to be a favorable one, the good kind in our gut is responsible for much of our body’s health. It’s crucial that we keep them happy, balanced with quality foods if we want to be healthy. <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img class="img-fluid" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/science+brain+health.jpeg" alt="science+brain+health"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Science Pause!</p></h4> <p>Props to you if you’re still with us because this is a science-heavy article. You should celebrate the fact that you’re cruising your way through it and learning more about your body.</p> <p>To recap, we’ve covered how diet and gut bacteria are linked to brain function and mental health.</p> </div> </div> Now, we’re about to tackle blood sugar, the keto diet, and lifestyle choices like exercise. If you need a break, now might be a good time to pause and check out some exercises you can do at home with no weights on our <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZjFDJI4B4l16uujibduMFA">**YouTube channel**</a>. Or, we can keep trucking along. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Blood Sugar, Insulin Resistance, and Brain Function</p></h4> Anti-inflammatory diets (such as keto, which is described in the next section) contribute to our health in part because they help us lower our blood sugar. Blood sugar is glucose found in the blood as a result of the foods we eat. Highly processed and sugary foods lead to large blood sugar spikes that increase the likelihood of all the diseases we’ve mentioned to this point<sup>10</sup>. The truth is, sugar is how the body gets fuel―and the brain needs a lot of it<sup>11</sup>. Thinking, memory, and learning are all closely related to how much glucose we burn through. However, too much sugar is bad for the brain. Excess sugar leads to the deterioration of brain cells and can increase the chances of diabetes or cancer. Interestingly enough, blood sugar and brain function help us transition into our next section seamlessly. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">The Keto Diet and Brain Health</p></h4> The ketogenic diet, a low-carb, high-fat diet based on veggies, healthy oils, and quality proteins, can actually <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/ketosis-and-brain-function/">**promote brain health**</a>. You can read all about the benefits of keto by visiting <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/">**our blog**</a>. As you’ve learned, diet and brain health are closely related. With the exception of its limitation on fruit intake to only a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/what-are-superfoods-top-7-for-your-keto-diet/">**superfood**</a> like blueberries, your keto diet will be based around a lot of the foods doctors recommend for brain health and cognitive function. Gut bacteria also play a role in brain health. We said that the brain and gut are like a two-lane highway, sending signals back and forth that can impact one another. One negative example of this is chronic gut inflammation, which is linked to myriad negative health consequences. One of the main benefits of the ketogenic diet is that it helps reduce inflammation. In fact, before keto became a trendy diet, scientists concluded keto could even help prevent seizures owing to its impact on gut bacteria <sup>12</sup>. If you’re keeping score at home, so far, the keto diet is two for two. Finally, because your diet is based on lots of quality fats and proteins―and limited carbs and sugar―your blood sugar is also improved through the keto diet. Though the keto diet got famous for its ability to help people lose weight, there’s also clearly a host of benefits available to anyone looking to improve brain health. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Exercise and Brain Health</p></h4> Movement makes us smarter. In fact, studies show that exercise changes the way our brains work by improving memory and thinking skills<sup>13</sup>. <div class="row mb-4"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5 push-md-7 align-self-center"> <img class="img-fluid" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/running+brain+health.jpeg" alt="running+brain+health"> </div> <div class="col-12 col-md-7 pull-md-5"> <p>Exercise reduces insulin resistance and inflammation while also stimulating the release of chemicals that keep brain cells and blood vessels in the brain healthy.</p> <p>And because you’ve gotten such a heavy dose of science already, let’s keep this section simple. You just feel better when you exercise. It’s easier to sit and pay attention, study, or learn when you’ve moved your body that day. From recess as a kid to a run before work in adulthood, anyone that’s ever tried it knows this to be true.</p> </div> </div> So if you need a further incentive to exercise, keep this in mind: moving makes you smarter―and keeps your brain healthy. <h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Brain Health and the Warrior Made Lifestyle</p></h4> In the name of science and with empirical evidence about brain health, let’s wrap this article up the easy way. You know that diet and exercise are important for transforming your body. You’ve been told that they will keep you healthier. And you know that the ultimate goal is to make both a part of your lifestyle. One way to do that is to remember that a healthy diet (anti-inflammatory foods like veggies and fatty fish) and regular exercise improve both brain function and mental health. You can decrease your risk of a disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia and learn better when you eat well and move often. If brain health is one of your goals, the ketogenic diet, and our home-based fitness routines are a great way to achieve it. Join the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/">**Warrior Made community**</a> and start working towards your own body (and brain) transformation! <h5><p style="color: #000000">Resources</p></h5> 1. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110">Regular exercise changes the brain</a> 2. <a target="_blank" href="https://ncdalliance.org/unhealthy-diets-and-obesity">Unhealthy Diets and Obesity</a> 3. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.wcrf-uk.org/uk/preventing-cancer/what-can-increase-your-risk-cancer/poor-diet-and-cancer-risk">Poor diet and cancer risk</a> 4. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.neurologytimes.com/dementia/role-diet-brain-health">Poor diet and cancer risk</a> 5. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/boost-your-memory-by-eating-right">Boost your memory by eating right</a> 6. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-6-9-overview">Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids</a> 7. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4228144/">Gut Microbes and the Brain</a> 8. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection">The gut-brain connection</a> 9. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/">Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health</a> 10. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.livescience.com/62673-what-is-blood-sugar.html">What Is Blood Sugar?</a> 11. <a target="_blank" href="http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain">Sugar and the Brain</a> 12. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.livescience.com/62659-keto-diet-epilepsy-gut-bacteria.html">How the Keto Diet Helps Prevent Seizures</a> 13. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110">Regular exercise changes the brain</a>

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