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What Makes Up The Nutritional Content Of Your Brain

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How Do Vitamins And Minerals Affect The Brain

How the food you eat affects your brain – Mia Nacamulli

B vitamins, vitamins C, D & E and magnesium are all essential in brain health and development. Research shows that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of developing cognitive problems during aging. Thiamine and vitamin E in particular are important for cells that transmit messages from the nerves, whilst B6, B12 and vitamin C play an important role in how the nerves work and are formed. Magnesium, which is found in avocados, spinach, brown rice and nuts, improves neural plasticity, meaning the nerves are able to adapt and avoid damage. As a result, it may improve memory, help to fight stress and depression and its crucial for the production of energy and neurotransmitters.

Epidemiologic studies also show that consumption of vitamins and minerals is associated with lower risk of developing cognitive deficits. The B vitamins and vitamins E, C, and D have all been identified as playing important roles in maintaining normal brain function. Members of the B vitamin family and vitamin C also are essential to energy production in the brain.

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.

Brain Micronutrients Most Likely Missing From Your Diet

Micronutrients are the nutrients that the body needs in very small amounts.

These include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

The brain needs all essential micronutrients to be healthy and function at its best.

Surprisingly though, nutritional deficiencies are common, even in people who eat ostensibly healthy diets.

Heres a look at nutrients that are often missing in our diet that can profoundly impact the brain.

B Vitamins: The Happy Vitamins

B vitamins have been called the happy vitamins or anti-stress vitamins because they can improve mood and increase tolerance to stress.

Of all of the 8 B vitamins, vitamin B12 is one to be most concerned with for two reasons.

First, vitamin B12 is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies.

In the US, its estimated that 40% of adults are B12-deficient.

Secondly, vitamin B12 deficiency can result in very serious conditions.

It can lead to a wide spectrum of neurological symptoms including mental confusion, memory loss, dementia, nerve damage, fatigue, weakness, and depression.

Two particularly high-risk groups are seniors, who often absorb B12 poorly, and vegetarians, since B12 is found only in animal products.

Another at-risk group are those who take medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.

If you suspect that you may be deficient, have a vitamin B12 blood test done.

If your level is low, B12 supplementation should bring it back to normal quickly.

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

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Foods That Improve Brain Health

You are what you eat. While you may not literally transform into the things you eat, your nutritional choices certainly play an important role in your overall health. Not only that, but there are certain foods that can even help to maintain or improve the health of your brain. Eating the right foods to keep your brain healthy can dramatically decrease your risk of developing neurological problems later in life. Here are some of the best foods for your brain:

Supplements For Brain Function

Boost Your Child

In addition to making dietary changes, some people consider taking supplements to improve their brain function. But do these supplements actually work?

Taking vitamins B, C, or E, beta-carotene, or magnesium may improve brain function if a person has a deficiency in any of them. If a person does not have a deficiency, these supplements are unlikely to improve mental performance.

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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 .

Essential Nutrients For A Healthy Brain

Edited and medically reviewed by Patrick Alban, DC | Written by Deane Alban

Without sufficient brain nutrients, your cognitive and mental health will be compromised. Unfortunately, certain nutritional deficiencies are common.

The brain is a hungry organ that needs a disproportionate share of the bodys nutrients.

When your brain doesnt get the nutrients it needs, its harder to be mentally sharp and feel positive.

You also put yourself at greater risk for mood disorders and degenerative brain diseases.

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Vitamins B1 B9 B12 D And E

The B vitamins are a class of water soluble vitamins. In a supplement format, they are usually grouped together in a b-complex vitamin. The B vitamins are important for cell metabolism.

B1 thiamine is a coenzyme in the breaking down of sugars and amino acids. It plays a central role in the release of energy from carbohydrates. The best sources of thiamin include yeast extract, pork, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grain products and meatless soy products.

B9 folic acid is important for the making and repairing of DNA especially important in cell growth. Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach and dried legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are naturally good sources of folate. In Canada, folic acid is added to all white flour, enriched pasta and cornmeal products.

B12 is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the human body and in the formation of DNA. It is essential to produce nerve sheaths. B12 supplementation is linked to improved cognition and may be an area to explore with your doctor.

The best sources of Vitamin B12 include: eggs, milk, cheese, milk products, meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry.

Malnutrition And The Brain

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  • Starvation
  • Poor absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Damage to the digestive system
  • Infection
  • Alcoholism
  • Babies born to mothers who had poor diets may have some form of mentalretardation or behavioral problems. Also, children who do not receiveadequate nutrition in their first few years of life may develop problemslater. Often the effects of malnutrition and environmental problems, suchas emotional and physical abuse, can combine to create behavioralproblems. Therefore, the exact causes of behavioral disorders aredifficult to determine.

    Some effects of malnutrition can be repaired by a proper diet, so not allof the effects of poor diets are permanent. Researchers believe that thetiming of malnutrition is an important factor in determining if problemswill occur. This means that missing out on a particular nutrient at thetime when a part of the brain is growing and needs that nutrient willcause a specific problem there.

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    How To Eat To Improve Your Mood

    Our brains function best when we eat a nutritious and balanced diet. High-quality foods that contain fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stressthe waste produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage brain cells. Salmon, kale, garlic, blueberries and olive oil are great brain foods.

    Low-quality foods, often processed and refined, are not the best choice for our brains and bodies. Because they are low in fiber and digested quickly, processed and refined foods can cause swings in blood sugar levels. These fluctuations in blood sugar can be harmful to overall brain health and affect mood. In addition to inhibiting our bodies regulation of insulin, refined sugars also promote inflammation and oxidative stress.

    Its never too late to recognize how foods impact how we feel not just in the moment, but the next day. To identify specific foods that make use feel bad, we can begin a clean diet for two to three weeksthat means no processed foods or sugar. Some people also go dairy-free and/or grain-free to identify food sensitivities.

    Then, slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, taking note of any changes in how you feel. Using a food journal will help make this process easier. When introducing more nutritious options, people often notice a change in mood, and cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally.

    What Does The Brain Need To Function Nutritionally

    Your brain, weighing about 3 pounds, is the most complex biological structure known. As with any of your internal organs, your brain has certain nutritional requirements for optimal health.To keep your brain functioning well, choose a balanced, varied diet that contains generous amounts of brain-healthy foods.

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    Introduction To Nutrition And The Brain

    The effects of different foods on our behaviour and cognitive performance have been known for years without needing to be examined closely caffeine stimulates the brain when kids have too much sugar, they turn hyper and chocolate makes us all feel good. For centuries these experiences have been known and our dietary behaviours reflect this.

    In recent years the idea of nutritional effects on the brain have been developed further and extensive research into effects of food on brain functions that are not clearly evident or observable have emerged. The effect of certain foods on brain development, mood disorders, cognition , disease states and ageing has promised to be an essential area of research, development, non-pharmacological treatment and preventative measures.

    Energy Demands Of The Brain

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    The brain is an extremely active organ which demands an extremely high percentage of the overall daily energy requirements supplied by food. PET scans and MRIs show which brain areas are utilising the greatest amount of energy by monitoring the glucose utilisation. This has enabled us to understand of brain development and maturation at different ages.

    For infants, 87% of their daily energy intake supplies the brain. In children between the ages of 6-12 years, 30 45% of their energy is utilised in the brain. During infancy to early childhood synaptic connectivity is at its greatest rate and therefore glucose utilisation is high. By adulthood, cortical organisation is relatively stable and accordingly the energy demands of the brain decrease to 20-25%.

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    What Does This Mean For You

    Start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel not just in the moment, but the next day. Try eating a clean diet for two to three weeks that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. Add fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha. You also might want to try going dairy-free and some people even feel that they feel better when their diets are grain-free. See how you feel. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.

    How Do Fats Affect The Brain

    Specific fats are very important to the brain as they are a key component in the structure of cell membranes and they play a role in the structure and function of neurons. We know that approximately 60% of the brain is made up of omega-3 fats with DHA, a type of omega-3 fat found in fish, being the main type, responsible for eye and mental development. Omega-3 fats found in olive oil, oily fish such as salmon, herring and sardines are essential for brain development in the womb and early childhood. The majority of brain cells are developed before birth, with the remaining being laid down in the first year of life. For this reason, omega-3 fats are key during pregnancy and early childhood. There is also evidence to suggest dietary deficiency in omega-3 fats can have an adverse effect on cognition. Also, a high intake of these fats has been associated with a reduction in the development and progression of dementia. Despite these encouraging results, cause and effect has yet to be definitively demonstrated so again, larger studies are needed before we can determine for sure the relationship between fat intake and cognitive health.

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    Fiber Prebiotics And Probiotics

    Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. Instead, they are food for probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy. Research is starting to draw a close connection between the health of your gut and the health of your brain. So, it is important to pay attention to gut bacteria.

    Foods rich in prebiotics are whole grains, asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, oatmeal, and legumes.

    Probiotics can help lower LDL the bad cholesterol. Food rich in probiotics are foods like yogurt and lean protein

    The 6 Of The Essential Vitamins And Minerals For A Healthy Brain Include

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    • Thiamine. It plays a role in the conduction of nerve impulses, a severe lack of this vitamin can lead to Korsakoff syndrome, a chronic memory disorder
    • FOLIC ACID . Folic acid plays an important role in the synthesis of amino acids and the formation of nerve tissue.
    • ASCORBIC ACID . Vitamin C is important in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine and it also protects the brain against oxidative stress.
    • CALCIUM. It plays a central role as a nerve cell messenger. It also regulates neurotransmission and controls nerve excitability.
    • MAGNESIUM. Magnesium is important for the conversion of many B vitamins into their active form.
    • ZINC. Alterations in zinc homeostasis were found in Parkinsons disease and Alzheimer sufferers.

    Considering this we can conclude that a food to be considered as brain food or the best food for our brain must contain the above mentioned vitamins and minerals. Having said that lets find out, what the 10 best best food for the brain to boost your intelligence.

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    Maximize Memory Function With A Nutrient

    What is the best recipe for maximizing memory? Research suggests following an eating plan that provides a healthier selection of dietary fats and an array of plant foods rich in phytonutrients. There still is a lot to learn about what makes a brain-healthy diet. However, for now, the best bet for rich memories is forgoing unhealthy fat and remembering to diversify your plant portfolio.

    Foods that boost memory

    Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fish, healthier fats and herbs or seeds provide brain-boosting memory function, and include:

    • Berries are antioxidant powerhouses that can protect the brain from oxidative damage, preventing premature aging and memory-impairing dementia. Blueberries are a particularly rich source of anthocyanin and other flavonoids that may improve brain function.
    • Grapes are full of resveratrol, a memory-boosting compound. Concord grapes are rich in polyphenols, a brain-accessing antioxidant.
    • Watermelon has a high concentration of lycopene, which is another powerful antioxidant. Its also a good source of pure water, which is beneficial to brain health, as even a mild case of dehydration can reduce mental energy, impairing memory.
    • Avocado is a fruit rich in monounsaturated fat, which improves memory function by helping improve blood cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation in place of saturated fats.
    Whole grains and legumes
    Healthier fats
    Herbs or seeds
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    Essential Nutrients To Promote Brain Function

    Did you know that your brain is only about 3% of your body weight, but it uses up to 17% of your energy? In order for the brain to function properly, it needs specific nutrients, making the food we eat vital to brain function. What types of nutrients do we need to help our brains function? Read this list to learn more about what the brain needs!

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – To promote and enhance your intellectual performance, omega-3s are needed in your diet! Consuming omega-3s helps with general thinking and thought processing, but also assists with remembering and learning. If you struggle with ADHD, studies have shown that Omega-3s help reduce symptoms. Additionally, other research suggests they may help prevent Alzheimers disease and dementia, as they have a positive effect on memory. It is worth noting that the American diet is generally very high in Omega 6s and low in Omega-3s. Omega-3s are most often found in fish, but can also be found in walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
  • Lycopene – Another significant antioxidant that is known to protect against dementia, especially Alzheimers disease, is lycopene. Studies have indicated that lycopene also can be used in the treatment of prostate cancer and can prevent breast cancer. Other benefits include keeping blood vessels around the heart and neck healthy. Lycopene is a red carotene and carotenoid pigment, which is seen in red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, bell peppers, and red carrots.
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