brain health

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

Prolonged stress causes impaired memory function (due to the prolonged existence of stress hormones in the brain disrupting brain function)

Key Neurotransmitters and brain fuel

  • Actetylcholine: is metabolized from dietary Choline  sourced especially from egg yolk, beef, orange and cauliflower using vitamins B1, B5, B6, C and minerals Calcium and Zinc as enzymatic co-factors
  • Dopamine: metabolized from amino acids phenylamine and tyrosine which are sourced especially from meat and milk products using folate, Vitamin C, copper and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) as enzymatic co-factors
  • 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 using vitamins B6, C and Folate and mineral Magnesium as enzymatic co-factors
  • Glutamic acid: an amino acid sourced especially from eggs and whey protein using Calcium as co-factor in function

Key Nutrients:

  • Electrolytes: especially potassium and magnesium (restrict excess sodium)
  • B-vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12
  • Anti-oxidants: Vitamin C and E (to protect fatty acids in brain from free-radical damage to which they are very susceptible)
  • Choline: needed for acetylcholine and found in lecithin, peanuts, wheat germ, soy foods, Brussel sprouts, oatmeal, soybeans, cabbage, kale, lettuce, potatoes
  • Flavonoids – such as anthocyanidins found in blueberries

Key Supplements and brain maintenance strategies:

  • Take up regular exercise
  • Sleep and relaxation / destress
  • Gingko Biloba
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • C, B, and E vitamins: consider a multivitamin supplement
  • Herb Rosemary assists concentration

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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