Know the Food Required by Your Brain
The brain is one of the most important organs in the human body; this is due to its highly significant role in regulating a vast amount of information for normal body functioning. Some of the functions your brain plays include; blood pressure regulation, controlling nervous response, secreting and creating hormones, assisting digestion, alongside coordinating other signals the body sends to the brain to help our body function well. It is so pertinent to give your brain the vital nutrients it needs to keep your body perfectly healthy.
Therefore, having stated the brain’s irreplaceable roles in your health, it is pertinent to understand how the food we consume influences the brain and body. In this blog post, you will discover common recommendations for food that are beneficial to the brain. The essential food nutrients provide the body with the fuel it requires to repair cells and provide for the day. Everyone has different nutritional needs, and you should take the following suggestions within the context of your own requirements. If you are not so confident of your specific condition, you’re encouraged to talk to a certified nutritionist.
The Essential Nutrients Required for Healthy Brain
Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory
Antioxidants are beneficial substances that protect proteins, enzymes, fats, vitamins, etc. in the body against free radicals’ harsh oxidative effects. Several studies have shown that antioxidants can resist unstable molecules, such as free radicals. Antioxidants also counteract the stress-induced oxidation on the brain and may correct some symptoms of aging. There are immune cells found in the brain that act as a primary defense to the central nervous system.
When these cells are overactivated, it can lead to severe pain, prevent healing, and lead to prolonged inflammation. Fortunately, there are compounds found in food that can limit the over-activation of these cells. Antioxidants work perfectly as anti-inflammatories.
Did you know the brain is the highest fat-containing organ in the body, consisting of about 60% fat? In addition, fats from the bloodstream provide adequate energy for the brain. Healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, also facilitates normal blood circulation due to their anti-inflammatory nature.
Omega-6 fatty acids and DHA omega-3 are known to correct memory loss complications, sleep loss effects, vision, depression, and improve the number of molecules that increase neurons’ growth and survival.
Proteins and Amino Acids
For an efficient role of the central nervous system (CNS), it is pertinent to consume a good quantity of protein-rich foods high in amino acids. There are 20 different groups of amino acids. We will be focusing on acidic and aromatic sub-groups of amino acids. Aromatic amino acids are utilized by the brain for the synthesis of various neuromodulators and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Acidic amino aspartate and glutamate are neurotransmitters themselves.
Sources: Amino acids can be found in various types of food, such as nuts, beans, seeds, and meat.
Growth and sustenance of our large brains require a lot of energy; thus, a higher percentage of the metabolizable energy we get from food (carbohydrate, fat majorly) is utilized by our brain. In part, carbohydrates, with their energy density and high nutrient, allowed us to evolve our brains and provide us with optimum energy.
For instance, Carbohydrates can be separated into two main groups: complex and simple. Most fruits, whole grains, and vegetables fall within the complex category. Research shows that complex carbohydrates can improve health status and reduce the risk of disease.
- Sodium and Water Balance: It is vital to pay attention to how much salt and water we consume. It is natural for individuals to experience irregular sodium and water homeostasis. The American Heart Association recommends consumption of not more than 1500mg of sodium daily. However, staying under this recommendation can be difficult to monitor because salt is present in many processed foods.
Approximately 73% of the brain is water (neural fluids). Molecular hydrogen (H) found in drinking water acts as an active antioxidant that is saddled with the roles of reducing neuro-oxidative stress and inflammation. Hydration (direct or indirect water intake) promotes an array of cognitive benefits, such as energy, alertness, memory function, improved circulation, and visual vigilance.
If you are inquisitive to know how the amount of water you need to regularly take to maintain proper hydration, follow this simple calculation;
Wr = W x 0.5
W = your body weight.
Wr = the amount (in an ounce) of water required per day
Nonetheless, you may need more or less than your typical requirement, depending on diet, genetics, environment, and physical activity levels.
Oily fish (e.g., Salmon) are high in omega 3, and in particular Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a building pillar of the brain that improves brain functionality. A higher omega 3 intake has been confirmed to enhance the memory of Alzheimer’s patients.
Seeds and Nuts
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower are brain foods with high protein and omega fatty acids. Protein is the 2nd largest matter in the brain, next only to water, so it is vital to nourish your brain with protein-rich foods. Proteins help neuronal cells within the brain communicate with each other through neurotransmitters that are formed from amino acids. Amino acids are also building blocks of protein, not to mention that they are also filled with omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. These are needed fats that our bodies do not synthesize but that we ought to consume. Omega fatty acids play considerable roles in building cells to maintain normal brain function and store new memories by creating connections and synapses within the brain.
Beans are rich in vitamin B, fiber, and omega fatty acids. Fiber helps keep you satisfied for a more extended period and creates a gradual deposition of sugar, thus helping concentration and memory enable you to keep a steady workflow. Vitamin B helps to convert a chemical compound known as homocysteine into other beneficial brain chemicals like acetylcholine, which aids in memory retention. And, of course, omega fatty acids are as well vital for brain development and sustenance.
Dark and Leafy Greens
Greens such as kale, broccoli, and spinach are high in vitamin E as well as folate. Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes against harmful free radicals (unstable molecules that attack cells within the human body). Some sources of free radicals include stress, radiation, pollution, and processed food. Folate is as well found in dark greens and helps with normal brain functions.
Dark berries such as blueberries and others are rich in antioxidants, which protect the body against free radicals, thus keeping the brain healthy. They also protect the body against degenerative changes in the brain and enhance neural functioning and communication.
Lean Red Meat
Sirloin steak, an example of Lean red meats, are high in iron. Iron aids the production of neurotransmitters and oxygen transportation throughout blood cells in the body, including the brain, thus helping optimum attention, assimilation, and concentration.
They are creamy and filled with omega fatty acids and vitamin E. Omega fatty acids (OFAs) are essential for cranial development and cell growth. Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes from harmful oxidative free radicals.
Whole grains have complex carbohydrates, omega 3 fatty acids, and B vitamins that aid normal brain functioning. The complex carbohydrates give a steady supply of energy that regulates behavior and mood and aiding assimilation.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant corrects inflammation and regulates cell growth within the brain.
Red Cabbage is antioxidant-rich. These antioxidants help guard against oxidative free radicals that attack your deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), proteins, and carbohydrates within the body. Some say that the presence of free radicals in the body leads to aging and may even contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Brown rice is highly rich in B-vitamins, which aids in converting homocysteine (an amino acid) into important brain compounds necessary for learning and developing new memories.
Red wine has inside of it an antioxidant known as resveratrol. This antioxidant helps improve blood flow in the brain and aids in assimilation, attention, and concentration. Recent studies suggest that adults who take one glass of wine per day may reduce their susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease.
*Remember; moderation is the key as far as alcohol drinking is concerned.
Dark chocolate is not just delicious but also packed full of beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals. They also support the brain’s cognitive functions and learning, limiting the effects of Alzheimer’s.