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How The Food You Eat Affects Your Brain

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How Do Probiotics Affect The Brain

How the food you eat affects your brain – Mia Nacamulli

It is widely accepted that there is two-way communication;between the gastrointestinal tract;and the central nervous system through biochemical signaling. This is;sometimes;referred to as the gut-brain axis, describing the;link between;the cognitive and emotional areas of the brain to our gut.

There has;recently been a lot of interest in the role of probiotics, gut and brain function. It is believed that probiotics change;the processing of information in the gut that is strongly linked to anxiety and depression. A small study involving 20 healthy participants found that, compared to those taking a placebo, people who took a probiotic food supplement experienced fewer negative thoughts associated with sad moods. A further small study showed that healthy women who ate probiotic-rich yogurts for four weeks had a reduced emotional response when shown photos of people who were fearful, angry or sad.

While these studies are certainly encouraging, they are limited in size and scope and further studies are needed before we can draw any firm conclusions as to exactly how and why probiotics might affect mood.

Box 2additive Effects Of Diet And Exercise On Synaptic Plasticity And Cognition

Folate or folic acid is found in various foods, including spinach, orange juice and yeast. The liver generates several forms of folate after the intestine has absorbed vitamin B. Folate deficiency, which is mostly caused by low dietary intake, has been associated with a number of physiological abnormalities during development and adulthood. Adequate levels of folate are essential for brain function, and folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, such as depression and cognitive impairment. Folate supplementation either by itself , or in conjunction with other B vitamins, has been shown to be effective at preventing cognitive decline and dementia during aging, and at potentiating the effects of antidepressants. The results of a recent randomized clinical trial indicated that a 3-year folic acid supplementation can help to reduce the age-related decline in cognitive function. These studies, however, have sparked further debate in the scientific community that age, vitamin B12 status, genetic makeup, the presence of existing medical conditions and the current drug programme of patients receiving folic acid are important factors to be taken into consideration to reduce undesirable secondary effects, such as anaemia, low immune function and cancer. The effects of other nutrients on cognition are summarized in .

Foods That Help You Be Healthy

So what should you put in your cart and on your plate? Heres a quick overview of what to look for next time youre in the grocery store. Youll want to aim for a mix at meal time.

Whole foodsSome studies have shown that preservatives, food colorings and other additives may cause or worsen hyperactivity and depression. “So if you have one thing to remember, it’s to eat real food,” or food thats minimally processed and has a few healthy ingredients, says Sarah Jacobs, holistic nutritional counselor and co-founder of The Wellness Project. Think fresh fruits and vegetables.

FiberPlant-based foods are full of fiber, which helps your body absorb glucose or food sugars more slowly and helps you avoid sugar rushes and crashes. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-filled carbs like whole grains and beans.

AntioxidantsThese inflammation fighters are especially plentiful in berries, leafy green vegetables, the spice turmeric and foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon and black chia seeds. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants and sugar so indulge in moderation.

FolateThis type of B vitamin helps with dopamine production without forcing it to surge the way sugars do. Find it in leafy greens, lentils and cantaloupes.

Vitamin DVitamin D helps with the production of serotonin, and we usually get it from exposure to sunlight. But mushrooms especially reishi, cordycep and maitake are another good source, Jacobs says.

Read Also: What Is Dopamine In The Brain

Eating Well For Mental Health

Consuming fewer processed foods can lead to better brain and emotional health.

From a young age, were taught that eating well helps us look and feel our physical best. What were not always told is that good nutrition significantly affects our mental health, too. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and feel more alert. It can also improve concentration and attention span.

Conversely, an inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, impaired decision-making, and can slow down reaction time. In fact, a poor diet can actually aggravate, and may even lead to, stress and depression.

One of the biggest health impairments is societys reliance on processed foods. These foods are high in flours and sugar and train the brain to crave more of them, rather than nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.

A lot of the processed foods we eat are highly addictive and stimulate the dopamine centers in our brain, which are associated with pleasure and reward. In order to stop craving unhealthy foods, youve got to stop eating those foods. You actually start to change the physiology in the brain when you pull added sugars and refined carbohydrates from your diet.

The 7 Worst Foods For Your Brain

5 ways the food you eat affects your brain

Your brain is the most important organ in your body.

It keeps your heart beating, lungs breathing and all the systems in your body functioning.

Thats why its essential to keep your brain working in optimum condition with a healthy diet.

Some foods have negative effects on the brain, impacting your memory and mood and increasing your risk of dementia.

Estimates predict that dementia will affect more than 65 million people worldwide by 2030.

Luckily, you can help reduce your risk of the disease by cutting certain foods out of your diet.

This article reveals the 7 worst foods for your brain.

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How Does Food Affect Our Brain Function

How does food affect our brain function? Think of your brain as an expensive super car. If you want to get the best performance out of your brain, than you need to put in the very best fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and gives it the boost it needs to function at its very best.

Just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. Poor nutrition is liked to diminished brainpower, and overall poor brain heath.

Which Foods Are The Best Fuel

Healthy brain food for studying includes:

  • Protein meat, fish, eggs, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds, dried beans and lentils, dairy products and soy products. Protein helps your brain send messages to the rest of your body, and helps create brain chemicals that improve your mood.
  • Antioxidants fruits and veggies, including berries, and pomegranate juice.;Antioxidants can help delay or even prevent certain effects of aging on the brain.
  • Omega-3 oily fish, flax seeds and flax oil, and eggs, chicken and beef.;Omega-3s have been found to help your brain work harder and improve your mental health.
  • Dietary cholesterol dairy and egg yolks.;Your brain relies on cholesterol to create the cells that send messages to the rest of the body.
  • Monounsaturated fats avocados, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Food that contains monounsaturated fats can improve your memory and help your brain work harder, better, faster, stronger.
  • Caffeine tea, coffee and dark chocolate.;In small doses, caffeine can help you feel refreshed and more focused.
  • Water.;Your brain is 73% water, and water is vital to keeping your body in tip-top shape.

Read Also: What Does Your Brain Do When You Sleep

The Best Foods For Feeding Your Brain To Pass The Exams

The food you eat has an enormous impact on your energy flow the entire day. If you start on junk, youre going to feel groggy for the most part of your day. But when you start your day with a healthy balanced diet, not only will you stay alert, your mind will be focused. When preparing for exams, most students turn to unhealthy eating habits with the excuse of lack of time. Foods like energy drinks, crisps, chocolate, coffee, donuts, and French fries become their daily meals. While some may think that these foods keep their energy levels high, they are actually detrimental to their health. With that in mind, did you know certain foods can boost your brain function and improve memory? Turns out, eating specific types of foods can improve your exam performance. Eager to find out? Lets jump right in.

Proteins And Amino Acids

How the food you eat affects your brain

These are the building blocks of life, of growth, and development. A protein is a chain of amino acids that are connected. They impact how we feel and behave.

Amino acids contain neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit a signal from a neuron across the synapse to a target cell, which can be a different neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. This has an impact on your sleep patterns, mood, weight, etc.;

Different types of foods can have a vastly different impact on how we feel. For example, pasta can give us a feeling of calm, or protein can make us energised. This is why having a balanced diet is essential because you dont want to swing your mood around too much.

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Effects Of Nutrients On Cognition

Several dietary components have been identified as having effects on cognitive abilities . Dietary factors can affect multiple brain processes by regulating neurotransmitter pathways, synaptic transmission, membrane fluidity and signal-transduction pathways. This section focuses on recent evidence that shows the capacity of nutrients to affect neural pathways that are associated with synaptic plasticity.

Our Brains Reward Us For Eating Sugar Fat And Salt

Posted October 25, 2010

    Almost everything you choose to consume will directly or indirectly affect your brain. Obviously, some things we consume affect us more than others. I’m going to assume that spices, plants, animal parts, drugs of any kind, coffee, tea, nicotine and chocolate are all just food and define food as anything we take into our bodies whether it’s nutritious or not. In order to better understand how foods affect the brain it will be helpful to divide them into three categories.

    First, those foods we consume in high doses with acute dosing: for example, coffee, sugar, heroin, alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, some spices and a few psychoactive plants and mushrooms. Their effects are almost immediate and depend upon how much reaches the brain. In this class, the most important consideration is getting enough of the chemical from within the food to its site of action in our brain to actually produce some kind of effect that we can notice and associate with consuming that particular food. Most of the time, this simply does not happen. For example, consider nutmeg: low doses will be on pies next month and most of us will not notice that it contains two chemicals that our bodies convert into the popular street drug Ecstasy. Yet, if we consumed the entire canister of the spice our guts will notice and there is a good chance that we will hallucinate for about 48 hours! According to my students, the experience is quite unpleasant.

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    Not Eating Carbs At All

    You might assume that cutting all sugar out of your diet could do wonders for your neurological health, but don’t make these assumptions too quickly.

    “Glucose is not the only fuel of the brain,” says Dr. Marinov. “It can also burn ketones. Although most keto-fans will swear that burning ketones is more optimal and improves brain function, the adaptation does not happen in a day. Unless your body is well-adapted to ketosis, quitting carbs may lead to unstable blood sugar levels and even episodes of hypoglycemia. This can lead to brain fog, confusion, and even a brief loss of consciousness.”

    Alcohol can take its toll on your body, and it particularly affects your brain.

    “Drinking more than the recommended 1 to 2 drinks per day can affect your brain’s ability to function at its best,” says Melissa Mitri, RD for Wellness Verge. “Too much alcohol over time can affect the levels of neurotransmitters in your body, which are chemical messengers that help your brain cells to communicate.”

    “Even partaking in an occasional night of binge drinking can result in memory loss and damage. If you choose to drink, stick to one drink which equates to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor,” she says.

    When you want to hit the town but don’t know what to drink, make sure to consult 20 Tips for Choosing Healthy Alcoholic Drinks

    Eating The Right Fats

    Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food

    Your brain needs fatty acids to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.

    Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts , olive and sunflower oils, seeds , avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.

    Quick tip:

    • Try to avoid anything which lists ‘trans fats’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ in the list of ingredients . They can be tempting when you’re feeling low, but this kind of fat isn’t good for your mood or your physical health in the long run.

    Managing medication

    Some foods can be dangerous to eat if you’re taking certain medications. For example:

    Before prescribing you any medication, your doctor should fully explain any possible risks or side effects, so you can make an informed decision. If you are currently taking medication and are unsure or worried about what foods and drinks to avoid, it might help to speak to you GP or ask at your local pharmacy.

    For more information how to avoid interactions between food, drink and medication, see the American Food and Drug Administration information on drug and food interactions.

    For more information about healthy eating and how food can affect your mood, visit the British Dietetic Association website to read their range of food fact sheets.

    Recommended Reading: How To Prevent Memory Loss

    On Your Plate And On With Your Life

    Incorporating good-for-your-mood foods into your diet may take some extra effort at first, Brown and Jacobs say. They suggest preparing a weeks worth of chopped veggies and soaked and cooked beans ahead of time, so DIY meals are easier to whip up and just as tempting as take-out. Strapped for time? Dr. Cora suggests using frozen or canned vegetables without the salt and 10-minute brown rice, quinoa or whole-grain couscous.

    You can also try making small healthy food swaps, like trading white rice, pasta and bread for whole-grain versions. This helps increase good fiber in your body, which aids in digestion. And instead of a bag of chips, choose a side salad packed with nuts, seeds and colorful vegetables for extra flavor.

    General nutrition rules still apply. This means staying hydrated, not skipping meals and being mindful of your caffeine and alcohol intake. Both can directly impact your mood or anxiety level, Dr. Cora says. You may want to discuss with your doctor if you can drink caffeine or alcohol, and if so, how frequently and how much in order to stay healthy, she adds.

    You don’t have to make every healthy change immediately, Dr. Cora points out. You may find it easier to take it week by week. For instance, you could start by adding more vegetables to your diet one week, cutting down on sweets the next, replacing some meats with beans in week 3, and so on. “There’s no right way of doing it,” she says.

    But What Does My Gut Have To Do With My Mood

    When we consider the connection between the brain and the gut, its important to know that 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut. In the relatively new field of nutritional psychiatry we help patients understand how gut health and diet can positively or negatively affect their mood. When someone is prescribed an antidepressant such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor , the most common side effects are gut-related, and many people temporarily experience nausea, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal problems. There is anatomical and physiologic two-way communication between the gut and brain via the vagus nerve. The gut-brain axis offers us a greater understanding of the connection between diet and disease, including depression and anxiety.

    When the balance between the good and bad bacteria is disrupted, diseases may occur. Examples of such diseases include: inflammatory bowel disease , asthma, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cognitive and mood problems. For example, IBD is caused by dysfunction in the interactions between microbes , the gut lining, and the immune system.

    Recommended Reading: Can Depression Cause Brain Fog

    How Do Carbohydrates Affect The Brain

    The brain only;accounts for approximately 2% of our;body weight, but it consumes almost 20% of glucose-derived energy ;meaning that;nutrition is key for brain function.

    Glucose forms;the building blocks of carbohydrates and plays a role in the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is widely accepted to be;responsible for balancing mood and anxiety. The greatest source of energy for our brain comes from carbohydrate such as wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, rice, potatoes and lactose . These are considered healthy sources of carbohydrates that are broken down by the body into glucose and then used by our brain to function. Without an adequate supply of glucose, the brain cannot function correctly.

    Some scientists propose that refined sugar can produce addiction-like effects in the human brain affecting behaviour and sleep, however there is no conclusive evidence to support this.

    Positive And Negative Effects

    How the Food You Eat Affects Your Brain?

    As you can see, food can have positive or negative effects on the brain. Many studies have been done to look into just how foods can affect the brain and why certain foods do the things they do to the brain by professionals, like Dr. Daniel Amen. Many foods have been found to be especially beneficial while others have been found to be detrimental.

    Omega-3 fatty acids are wonderful for the brain. They help with memory and learning. Consuming foods that contain them, like fish and walnuts, can lead to lower risks or issues with mood disorders, depression, and dementia. On the flip side, if a person doesnt get enough omega-3 fatty acids, then they could suffer an increased risk for such mental disorders and may suffer from issues with learning and memory.

    Sugar is often the villain and for good reason. Consuming too much not only packs on the pounds but also can increase the risk for dementia. In addition, it leads to leptin resistance, which is where your brain can no longer help you know when you are full.

    Fruits and vegetables are loaded with great nutrients that help the brain. They have a nice effect on Nrf2 transcription, which affects cells. Getting the right nutrients can increase brain functions and help to make you more alert and healthy.

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