Fat affects brain function
Better Thinking: How Food Affects Our Brain
The human brain is an incredibly complex organ. It consists of around 100 billion neurons that send out nerve impulses at speeds of up to 100 meters per second. But like any other part of the body, the brain also needs indispensable building blocks to function properly. It consists of around 73 percent water and weighs between 1.3 and 1.5 kilograms, which is around two percent of the body weight of an average person. However, it uses up 20 percent of your calorie intake, which makes it all the more important to keep the brain adequately and healthy.
The brain needs energy to work and its main source of energy is glucose. This simple sugar, found in many foods, is transported through the bloodstream and converted into energy by muscle cells throughout the body. Unlike the rest of the body, however, the brain cannot store this energy, which is why it needs a constant supply of glucose. Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that slowly release their glucose into the blood, helping us stay alert and focused throughout the day. Whole grains are also rich in vitamin B, which has a number of beneficial properties for the brain.
All eight water-soluble compounds, which are summarized under the group name vitamin B, help to keep our brain healthy. B6, B12 and B9 can lower homocysteine levels. This amino acid can attack the lining of the arteries and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. B1, B2 and B5 all play an important role in metabolic processes that turn food into energy that the brain works with. B12 also promotes the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the brain. Some of the B vitamins, such as folic acid, are essential to the production of the neurotransmitters that transmit signals between neurons. Too little of it can affect cognitive abilities and trigger tiredness, depression, panic attacks and pain.
The human brain loses performance before the age of 30. However, berry fruits, especially dark berries such as blackberries, blueberries and cherries, may slow down the natural aging process.
The problem is with oxidative stress; the body becomes increasingly inefficient in eliminating the harmful byproducts of metabolism. These so-called free radicals destabilize the body's cells by, among other things, stealing electrons from the brain cells, which causes considerable damage. Berries are packed with antioxidant molecules called flavonoids that can protect cells by donating their own electrons to free radicals. That could delay the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia.
Oily fish contain many nutrients that the brain needs, including omega-3 fatty acids. The body cannot produce omega-3 itself, which is why corresponding foods can have a supportive effect on the brain if consumed regularly. Fish such as salmon and sardines contain EPA and DHA, two of the most common omega-3 fatty acids. These are involved in many processes in the brain. They include the gene expressions that reduce oxidative stress, improve blood flow in the brain, stimulate the production of new neurons, and control neurotransmitter levels. Some studies suggest that a diet high in omega-3s could significantly lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Broccoli (and leafy greens)
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are also important for improving our cognitive skills. Some research suggests that this is due to mustard oil glycoside, which is found in abundance in broccoli. This sulfur-containing compound slows down the breakdown of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine is required by the central nervous system and plays a significant role in memory and learning performance. Studies show that people with Alzheimer's disease have abnormally low levels of acetylcholine. A recent report suggests that a daily serving of leafy vegetables, like spinach or broccoli, keeps our brains 11 years younger.
While water is typically not counted as a food, it is absolutely essential for brain health. Water is the main source of nutrients for the always thirsty brain, it is essential for the removal of toxins and acts as a buffer and lubricant for the brain tissue. Every chemical reaction in the brain requires water, especially energy production, which is why dehydration affects brain function so quickly. Even a slight lack of fluids can lead to confusion, tiredness and dizziness. And we need real water, not tea, coffee, lemonade or purified or carbonated water. All of these drinks may no longer contain the valuable nutrients and natural electrolytes in water, and this is exactly what the brain needs.
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