@ Halal | January-February . 2022
Food for thought How halalan toyyiban diet affects the brain
FOOD AND DIET in the halalan toyyiban concept are not only about being permissible in Shari ’ ah , but they must also be good and beneficial to people . The toyyiban aspect of the diet ensures the quality and safety of food , thus emphasising mindful and healthy food consumption . Therefore , taking halal food without concerning the toyyib elements can have fatal consequences .
Exciting research done in Turkey demonstrated that a region in the brain responsible for decision making , called the ventromedial frontal cortex , increased its activity when halal food images were presented . The study proved that Muslims are concerned and sensitive about the halal status of food they eat . While this virtue may be sufficient to avoid the religious prohibition cautiously , the concern must also extend to ensuring the toyyib value of food by considering its effects on health .
Food consumption and eating behaviour directly affect the body ’ s health , including the brain , the most critical organ of the human body . The brain and the nervous system receive , interpret and send signals throughout the body , thus coordinating body movement and controlling body function . Every process that regulates the body , including thought , memory , emotion , touch , motor skills , vision , breathing , temperature , and even hunger , are controlled by this complex organ .
Toyyib and healthy diet is vital for the brain
The body cannot produce some nutrients , thus it must come from the diet . Food intake can affect the multiple processes of the brain and thus influence brain function . Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains , beans and vegetables provide excellent energy sources for the brain . At the same time , high-quality protein is the source of amino acid required to produce neurotransmitters for brain communication .
Scientific evidence on several specific dietary components such as omega-3 fatty acids , flavonoids , vitamins B , D , and E , and choline showed positive effects on cognition , possibly by improving the communication of brain cells . The cognitive function involves conscious intellectual activity , for example , thinking , remembering , and reasoning . Fatty fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D .
Brain cells require a considerable amount of oxygen to operate and are thus , exposed to oxidative stress . The waste after oxygen is used oxidative stress , which can cause harm to the brain cell . Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants , vitamins , and minerals that are crucial to nourishing and protecting the brain . ‘ Prophetic food ’ such as dates , honey , figs , and black seeds are also filled with this nutritious goodness .
A balanced diet must accompany healthy food consumption . A healthy eating pattern such as the Mediterranean diet , low in fat and refined carbohydrates but high in fruit , vegetables , and lean protein , has been proven to improve memory , cognition , and brain volume . This traditional diet is reported to decrease the risk of depression compared to the standard western diet .
Other high fruits , veggies , and whole
BY NUR IFFAH ISHAK AND
YUMI ZUHANIS HAS-YUN HASHIM
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HALAL RESEARCH AND TRAINING ( INHART ), INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
grains diets such as the Japanese diet and the dietary approaches to stop hypertension ( DASH ) diet are also suitable for brain health . The composition of bacteria in the gut , called the microbiome , indirectly affects a person ’ s mood . An unhealthy microbiome sends signals to the brain and causes anxiety and depression . However , a healthy microbiome that can be accomplished with a fibre and nutrient-rich diet will help reduce stress , elevate mood , and improve memory .
Unfortunately , in the modern days , the halalan toyyiban diet is a challenge because the typical food available is synonymous with to low-quality foods , usually processed and refined , thus are not a healthy option for the brain . This food may cause sugar fluctuation in the blood and consequently affects mood , promoting inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain . Desserts and junk food contain harmful fats , such as trans-fatty acids and saturated fats , which will reduce the brain cells ’ plasticity and result in less efficient information processing . Many studies have also demonstrated the correlation between long term poor diets with mental health decline , for example , mood disorders and depression .
Moderation in eating
Eating moderately is strongly encouraged in the Qur ’ an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ( peace and blessings be upon him ).
Eat and drink , but do not be excessive for God does not love those who are excessive .
[ Qur ’ an 7:31 ]
The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach . It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls , to keep him going . If he must do that ( fill his stomach ), then let him fill one third with food , one third with drink and one third with air .
[ Ibn Majah ]
Therefore , the halalan toyyiban diet encompasses the food eaten and the manner of consuming the food . Eating in moderation means not eating to the extremes , neither too much nor too little . Nutritionists described a moderate diet as “ avoiding excessive amounts of calories or any particular food or nutrient ”.
Scientific data showed that reducing calorie intake , especially carbohydrates help in calming Alzheimer ’ s symptoms . In the Alzheimer ’ s brain , a naturally occurring protein called beta-amyloid is abnormally high .
Caloric restriction diets reduce the amount of beta-amyloid protein that builds up as a plaque that disrupts brain cell activity . Thus , reducing calorie intake improves memory performance and slows down ageing .
The body would not get adequate nutrition from overeating , let alone eating too little food . Therefore , unhealthy eating behaviours lead to inadequate nutrients for the brain to function correctly . It is much worrying during adolescence because the brain development , which occurs through that stage , could be disrupted .
Alcohol and intoxicants are prohibited due to their harmfulness
Alcohol and all other haram ( unlawful ) things are not permitted because they are harmful . Although alcohol has some medicinal value , the intoxicant poses far more significant harm than its benefits , as mentioned in the Qur ’ an :
They ask you concerning alcohol and gambling . Say : In them is a great sin , and some benefits for men , but the sin is far greater than the benefits .
[ Qur ’ an 3:219 ]
Other intoxicants such as hashish ( cannabis drug ) that would cloud judgment are also prohibited . Alcohol consumption impacts brain function , demonstrated by impaired memory , slow reaction times , blurred vision , and slurred speech of the drinker .
Alcohol is a depressant to the nervous system , and it can cause the brain to shrink and induce senility . Taking alcohol even in small amounts can lead to a higher risk of brain haemorrhage and stroke and disrupt sleep patterns . Damage from alcohol is more susceptible at the brain parts associated with higher function than other brain regions . Therefore , alcohol drinkers potentially have deficits in solving problems , planning , memory , and making judgments .
Let ’ s care for the brain ’ s health
As people get older , changes in the brain cells will slow the constant flow of new connections . Thus the cognitive function decreases gradually . Ageing is a natural process , but that does not mean we can ignore our brain health . Preserving the brain ’ s health will help us live a longer , meaningful and healthier life . A good diet significantly prevents neurological disorders such as headaches , migraines , Alzheimer ’ s disease , stroke , seizures , and Parkinson ’ s disease .
It is crystal clear that halalan toyyiban food intake does not only abide to religious requirements but also positively impact intelligence , health , morals , and psychology . Complex carbohydrates , high-quality proteins , healthy fats , and plenty of minerals , vitamins , and antioxidants are crucial for a healthy brain .
Let us give it a thought . Let us feed our brains with halalan toyyiban diet .