If you sucked all the moisture out of your brain and broke it down into its constituent nutritional content, what would it look like most of the weight of your dehydrated brain would come from fats, also known as lipids. In the remaining brain matter, you would find proteins and amino acids, traces of micronutrients, and glucose.
The brain is, of course, more than just the sum of its nutritional parts, but each component does have a distinct impact on functioning, development, mood and energy. So, that post-lunch apathy, or late night alertness you might be feeling well that could simply be the effects of food on your brain of the fats in your brain, the superstars are Omegas 3 and 6. These essential fatty acids, which have been linked to preventing degenerative brain conditions, must come from our diets. So eating omega rich foods like nuts, seeds and fatty fish is crucial to the creation and maintenance of cell membranes. And while Omegas are good fats for your brain, long term consumption of other fats, like trans and saturated fats, may compromise brain health.
The complex combinations of compounds in food can stimulate brain cells to release mood altering norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. But getting to your brain cells is tricky and amino acids have to compete for limited access. A diet with a range of foods helps maintain a balanced combination of brain messengers and keeps your mood from getting skewed in one direction or the other. Like the other organs in our bodies, our brains also benefit from a steady supply of micronutrients.
Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables strengthen the brain to fight off free radicals that destroyed brain cells, enabling your brain to work well for a longer period. And without power for micronutrients, like vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, our brains would be susceptible to brain disease and mental decline.
Trace amounts of the minerals iron, copper, zinc and sodium are also fundamental to brain health and early cognitive development. In order for the brain to efficiently transform and synthesize these valuable nutrients, it needs fuel and lots of it. Well the human brain only makes up about 2% of our body weight it uses up to 20% of our energy resources. Most of this energy comes from carbohydrates that our body digest into glucose, or blood sugar.
The frontal lobes are so sensitive to drops in glucose, in fact that a change in mental function is one of the primary signals of nutrients deficiency. Assuming that we are getting glucose regularly, how does the specific type of carbohydrates we eat affect our brains? Carbs come in 3 forms: starch, sugar and fiber.
Well on most nutrition labels, they are all lumped into one total carb count the ratio of the sugar and fiber subgroups to the whole amount affects how the body and brain respond. High glycemic food like white bread causes a rapid release of glucose into the blood and then comes the dip. Blood sugar shoots down, and with it, our attention span and mood.
On the other hand, oats, grains, and legumes have slower glucose release, enabling a steadier level of attentiveness. For sustained brainpower, opting for a varied diet of nutrient-rich foods is critical. When it comes to what you bite, chew, and swallow, your choices have a direct and long-lasting effect on the most powerful organ in your body.