Food can boost your mental and physical powers.
If you were asked whether diet affected your heart, your risk of getting cancer or type 2 diabetes, I have little doubt your answer would be “yes”. But what about your mental health?
It turns out that what you eat has a significant impact on many brain functions.
Consider iodine, an often overlooked nutrient. We only need trace amounts of this key mineral, but having a deficit greatly affects brain development in the womb and can lead to lower intelligence. Iodine deficiency is often thought to be a Third World problem, but it is increasingly diagnosed in developed, seemingly well-fed countries.
In adults, iodine deficiency affects thyroid hormones and can lead to goitre or hypothyroidism. Although it is mainly considered in regard to body weight conditions, having insufficient iodine also compromises brain function. For example, the World Health Organization estimates that iodine-deficient adults may have an IQ 15 points lower than their potential.
Seafood, seaweed and iodised salt are the most common sources of dietary iodine. However, the (quite correct) advice to lower salt intake and a move towards fancier salts, such as pink or Himalayan salt, has reduced the use of plain old iodised table salt and led to a lower average intake of iodine. And, admittedly, few of us eat enough fish.