Brain nutrition is food for thought

The human brain uses about 20 to 30 percent of a person’s energy intake. Eating a diet, that contains the recommended nutrients, is essential for good brain health.

You have probably heard the term “brain food.” Have you ever wondered how nutrition affects the brain? Michigan State University Extension says that the brain is a lot like the motor of a car, which requires fuel, oil and other materials to run correctly – your brain also needs special nutrients such as protein, glucose (sugar), vitamins, minerals, etc. to function properly.Brain nutrition is food for thought

According to the human brain can be quite demanding when it comes to energy consumption – it actually uses about 20 to 30 percent of a person’s energy intake. The food we eat can affect our mood, sleep patterns, verbal fluency, motivation and more. If we don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals our brain function can become impaired.

LIVESTRONG.COM lists the following as essential for brain health:

  • Protein – proteins and fats are needed for the brain to function properly. Fat is broke down fatty acids, used by the brain to produce new cell membranes. Protein also helps develop the necessary chemicals that transmit signals from one neuron to another.
  • Water – since the brain is made up of approximately 80 percent water, it’s essential to keep it hydrated. University of Michigan Health Systems recommends that women drink eight cups of water daily and men drink 12 cups daily to keep the brain healthy.
  • Carbohydrates – carbs help with glucose release which assists tryptophan to enter the brain. Tryptophan converts to serotonin which acts as a mood enhancer, pain killer, sleep inducer and appetite suppressant.
  • The process – it is a long road for nutrients consumed to get to the brain! The food we eat enters our mouth and needs to be chewed, swallowed, broke down by gastric acid, metabolized and transported to the bloodstream. Any nutrients that are still in the blood, after this process, must also survive the metabolic processes of the liver. These last surviving nutrients enter the brain through the blood-brain barrier.

Your brain determines every action your body makes, so it is important to consult your physician if you are experiencing symptoms such as irritability, depression, dulled senses and inability to concentrate.

The following websites provide more information about nutrition and brain health:

USDA Nutrition and Brain Function Food for the Aging Mind

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