Book Review: Brain Food
The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power
THE SUDDEN JOLT of a sugar fix followed by brain fog is all it takes, for many of us, to recognize that a connection exists between our food choices and cognitive function. Do we really need an entire book to extrapolate on this concept?>span class="Apple-converted-space">
Of course we do. In Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power, author Dr. Lisa Mosconi takes the long view. The connection between food and brain function, particularly in regard to brain changes leading to dementia, is built over decades. That sugar rush? It’s just the opening chapter of a very complex story.
“Food is information,” writes Mosconi. “Dietary nutrients are nothing less than biological signals that, upon entering our systems, are ‘read’ by your cells.” The question for readers is how “legible” their diet is to their brain. Mosconi parses recent trends in diet and nutrition, from gluten-free and paleo diets to the infatuation with omega-3s and antioxidants, and explains exactly the impact each has on the brain. Brain Food offers no magic bullets or absolute evils, nor does it present DNA as destiny. (In fact, certain foods act as on/off switches for our genes.) The focus is neuro-nutrition, or the complex ways nutrients work in tandem with each human’s unique biochemistry to promote optimal brain function. (Not to mention lifestyle. The busy and overwhelmed will appreciate the easy recipes included.)
Mosconi is a huge fan of berries and olive oil, but emphasizes that it’s the complex interaction of nutrients within these items, perfected by years of evolution, that makes them so potent.
This book is as timely as it is eye-opening, in a period when life spans are increasing and awareness grows about the way brain chemistry is shaped by emotional history and environment in addition to food. That synchronicity gives this reader a bit of a rush.