2. Your Brain
Research on how the brain endures the damaging effects of everyday life shows that attention to nutrition can increase your chances against deterioration of your brain at any age.
Brain cells communicate with your other cells and keep mental activities in never-ending motion. These very busy cells consume up to five times more energy and need at least five times more blood sugar than any other part of your body. Keeping blood vessels clear of impediments improves brain function. The same kinds of nutrients that can boost cardiovascular health and keep blood flowing properly also aid your brain’s nourishment.
Among the nutrients your brain craves are mixes of fatty acids that are incorporated into your brain cells’ membranes. These delicate membranes are crucial for communication among neurons, nerve cells in your brain. By the time you mature, your brain contains a complicated web consisting of about 100 billion neurons linked by trillions of connections.
Within this complex system, about one-fourth of your brain’s weight is fat, called lipids. Lipids serve many important roles, which include insulating nerve fibers and acting as building blocks of cell membranes surrounding neurons.
The most important fats you need to consume to increase cognitive processes are omega-3 fatty acids. These are best obtained by eating fish, nuts, seeds, and flax and hemp oils.
Fats that should be avoided are trans fatty acids, found in many refined, processed and fried foods. These actually have detrimental effects on your brain. Hydrogenated oils added to many cakes, cookies, boxed cereals, breads, peanut butter, margarine, microwavable meals, all chips, and about half of all refined foods sold in containers are slow poisons. These possess physical characteristics that, when incorporated in cell membranes, radically alter their performance.
One hour after eating a fatty meal, blood cells begin to stick together. Within six hours the “clumping” is so severe that blood flow actually stops in small blood vessels. In addition, eating fatty foods decreases the bloods oxygen supply by 20%. The electrical communications between cells can be hindered. The flow of the bioelectrical current crucial to proper neuron function can be altered. Membranes can stiffen making them less flexible and potentially slowing your mental abilities as the harmful fats interfere with the normal flow of molecules in and out of brain cells.
Kids that eat too many of the fatty treats sold in supermarkets like candy bars, pastries, etc, may consequently suffer learning difficulties.
Your brain does require a steady, large supply of blood sugar. These are easily supplied by eating whole grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat and oats.
B vitamins are also a good bet. In fact, they are called the mental health vitamin.
But, metabolizing excess sugar depletes B vitamins in your body and at times there’s not enough left over to produce great mental and emotional chemistry. B vitamins are found in lean meats, whole grain foods, dried beans and peas, sunflower seeds and nuts, green leafy vegetables, cheese, yogurt and tofu.
Your brain’s large concentration of fat makes it vulnerable to destructive free radicals. To protect brain cells, the body produces an amino acid called glutathione, which helps defuse the destructive force and help salvage oxidized vitamin C so it can continue to act as an antioxidant.
Natural chemicals called polyphenols can aid in the protection of lipids in brain cell membranes. Rich sources of polyphenols include red wine, green tea, and soy.