Your Diet Can Improve Your Brain Power: What Does Your Brain Need To Function?
The human body needs certain nutrients to survive. These include vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. Some of these nutrients are essential while others are necessary but not enough to sustain life without them. Vitamins A, D and E are examples of those that are required for proper functioning of the body. Other nutrients such as amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids are needed for growth and development.
It is well known that the brain requires a certain amount of energy to perform its functions. Energy comes from food or it can come from other sources like oxygen, glucose, fat etc. There are several types of energy available including chemical reactions (chemical reactions) and electrical reactions (electrical reactions).
Food contains various forms of energy which are used by the body to function properly.
Foods that are good for the brain include protein, carbohydrates, fats and vegetables. Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals which are beneficial to the body. Fats have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels, increase resistance to infections and lower risk of heart disease.
They also protect against cancer cells. Protein is another type of energy source that helps in building muscles and maintaining healthy bones. Carbs provide energy for the brain and maintain normal weight.
Your Diet Can Improve Your Brain Power
In this section we discuss why should your diet improve your brain power. We will also look at what food is good for your brain. We start with why is a healthy diet important for your brain.
Not only does it help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, it also helps prevent other diseases and medical conditions. It has been shown to lower risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Stroke and other conditions.
The brain requires a lot of energy to function. This means that it needs a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen. When we eat food our brain receives the energy it needs to do its job.
In addition to energy our brain also requires various other nutrients. These include vitamins such as B12 and folic acid, minerals like zinc and iron, and essential fatty acids. Other nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy.
One of the most important things for our brain is oxygen. If there is not enough oxygen then it can’t function properly, and if there is an excess of carbon dioxide then it can’t function properly either. The brain uses 20% of the oxygen in our blood.
To increase the absorption of oxygen and decrease the absorption of carbon dioxide the brain has a special type of tissue called “Medulla Oblongata”. This part of the brain allows us to breathe automatically. Humans and other animals with a Medulla Oblongata are called “Air Breathers”. Animals that don’t have a Medulla Oblongata must rise to the surface to breathe. These are called “Sea Hares” or “Sea Slugs” and include organisms like octopuses and snails.
The human brain only represents 2% of the weight of the body, but it requires 20% of the bodies energy. It also requires five times more oxygen than any other organ. The brain comes in two halves (left and right) called “hemispheres”.
These are connected by a thick bundle of nerve fibres called the “Corpus Callosum”. The left hemisphere is responsible for logic, speech, creativity and analytical thought. The right hemisphere is responsible for intuition, artistic ability, attention to detail and visual skills.
The brain also has some very strange properties. It has been shown that the brain functions slightly differently in different people. This is called “Neurodiversity” and means that no two brains are exactly alike.
This means that the same task will require a slightly different solution for each person.
The brain also has the amazing ability to re-grow, renew and repair itself. Even after severe injuries, the nerve cells rebuild themselves and can function normally. Many people have been able to regrow entire parts of their brains after serious accidents.
Scientists are still trying to work out exactly how this process occurs. The only parts of the brain that do not repair themselves are the parts that control essential bodily functions, such as breathing. Even these can sometimes be repaired with surgery.
Part 2: Nutrition and Diet
In this section we look at some of the major nutrients your body needs to perform properly. We start with what you should be eating in your diet. We then look at vitamins and minerals in more detail.
There are 6 main food groups:
Fruit and vegetables
Who doesn’t like eating fruit and vegetables?
They taste good, they’re good for you and they even come in lots of different colors! You should eat at least 5 portions (or servings) of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. A portion is equal to one piece of fresh fruit OR one helping of vegetables (you can have more than one serving of fruit or vegetables). You can have more than 5 portions but try and have a mixture of fruit and vegetables each day. Try to eat at least 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit per day. Also remember to wash your fruit and vegetables before you eat them!
Grains (Bread, Rice, Corn etc)
Bread, rice, pasta and other grains (like corn) are an important part of a healthy diet. People in the western world eat about 3 times more grains than the body actually needs.
In reality you only need to eat a small amount of grains daily to survive. Grains are high in carbohydrates and give you much needed energy. You should eat around 6 ounces (around 170g) of grains each day.
This is roughly equivalent to 2 slices of bread, 1 small pot of yoghurt or a small bowl of breakfast cereal.
Proteins (Meat, Fish, Eggs etc)
Proteins are vital for the growth and repair of body tissues and muscles. You also use proteins to produce hormones, enzymes and other substances that your body needs to function. Your body cannot produce these substances itself so you need to get them from the food that you eat.
Proteins are made up of smaller molecules called amino acids. Your body can only use the amino acids it needs and discards the rest as waste. This is known as a “complete protein” when your diet contains all the amino acids your body needs and can put to use.
Foods that contain all the amino acids you need are called complete proteins. Examples of these are meat, fish, eggs and cheese. Other types of food such as nuts, beans, seeds and vegetables have some amino acids in them but not all. These sources are called incomplete proteins. It is fine to eat these as part of your diet but you will need to eat them with a complement of complete proteins to ensure you get all the amino acids your body needs.
The body can make some amino acids or acquire them from other places such as the liver but there are 8 that it cannot produce itself at all and these are called essential amino acids. These are the amino acids that must be acquired from the food you eat. Your body needs around 10 grams of proteins each day.
This can be provided by an ounce of meat, a cup of milk, a slice of cheese or an egg.
Also remember that you need even more proteins if you are exercising so much.
If you eat too much protein your body gets rid of the excess mainly by excreting it as urine.
Sources & references used in this article:
Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy by J Carper – 2001 – Harper Collins
Neuroplasticity and clinical practice: building brain power for health by J Mercola – 2017 – books.google.com
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of … by D Perlmutter – 2015 – Little, Brown Spark
Rewire your brain: Think your way to a better life by DG Amen – 2010 – Harmony