brain health

brain healthGive your brain a helping hand! In this post I outline some simple ideas to optimise that lovely bobble of grey matter between your ears! So how do you select the right brain fuel  to nourish your neurotransmitters? Find out here!

Key factors include the importance of dietary fat in brain health. Yes! Fat is good for your mood! In fact its crucial – as a whopping 35% of our brain is fat. And its the type of fat that our brains use as fuel that is the key issue

  • Foods rich in omega 3 are associated with improved mental function
  • The brain and nervous tissues are affected detrimentally by
    • cholesterol and transfatty acids and high consumption of saturated fats and animal fats
    • these food sources are associated with impaired mental function.

Key Neurotransmitters and brain fuel

  • Acetylcholine:
    • metabolized from dietary Choline  sourced especially from egg yolk, beef, orange and cauliflower
    • enzymatic co-factors: vitamins B1, B5, B6, C and minerals Calcium and Zinc
  • Dopamine:
    • metabolized from amino acids phenylamine and tyrosine which are sourced especially from meat and milk products
    • enzymatic co-factors: folate, Vitamin C, copper and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
  • Norepinephrine:
    • made from Dopamine using Copper and Vitamins B3, B6, C
  • Serotonin:
    • metabolized from amino acid tryptophan sourced from turkey, milk, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, red meats, tofu, almonds, peanuts, fish, milk, dates, chocolate, casein component of milk
    • enzymatic co-factors: vitamins B6, C and Folate and mineral Magnesium
  • GABA:
    • amino acid Glutamic acid and glutamate act as amino acid precursors in synthesis of GABA and Glutamic acid is sourced especially from eggs and whey protein using Calcium as co-factor in function

Key Nutrients:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • Anti-oxidants: Vitamin C and E (to protect fatty acids in brain from free-radical damage to which they are very susceptible)
  • B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12): from eggs, brewer’s yeast and Marmite
  • Electrolytes:
    • get more potassium and magnesium
    • restrict excess sodium and salt
  • Choline needed for Acetylcholine and found in
    • eggs, lecithin, peanuts, wheat germ, soy foods, Brussel sprouts, oatmeal, soybeans, cabbage, kale, lettuce, potatoes
  • Flavonoids – such as anthocyanidins found in blueberries
  • Herbal support from
    • Gingko Biloba
    • Rosemary assists concentration

Brain maintenance strategies:

  • Prolonged and chronic stress causes impaired memory function (due to the prolonged existence of stress hormones in the brain disrupting brain function). So to deal with this, we need some stress busters:
    • Take up regular exercise
    • Sleep is the brain’s time to repair and so good sound sleep is crucial. Have an effective sleep strategy, like avoiding caffeine and stimulating foods in the evenings
    • Relaxation: find effective ways to destress and unwind like Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (2001). Total body tune-up. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Press

Haas, E. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, Ca. Celestial Healing Arts

Bland, J., Costarella, L., Levin, B., Liska, D., Lukaczer, D., Schlitz, B., Schmidt, M., Lerman, R., Quinn, S., Jones, D. (2004). Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, Second Edition. Gig Harbor, WA: The Institute for Functional Medicine.

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