Many times, when we think about nutrition, we are not thinking about how it will affect our brain. But what most do not realize, although the brain represents only 2% of your body weight, it uses 20% of the energy your body produces.
According to the Brain and Spine Foundation, following a balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, and fatty acids not only benefits your body but also benefits your brain. Let’s look at how these important foods impact our overall brain health.
Glucose, found in carbohydrates, provide energy to the body and the brain. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta, and rice. When eating foods with carbohydrates energy is slowly released to help the stability of brain function. For even better mental concentration and performance, choose whole grain foods instead of refined versions, such as white bread.
Essential Fatty Acids
Many people do not realize that some fats are good and essential for the body and the brain. The dry weight of the brain is comprised of 60% fat, and 1/5 of this fat comes from fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6. The body is not capable of making essential fatty acids, so they come from the food we eat. Food such as poultry, eggs, avocado, and nuts provide Omega-6, and oily fish, seeds, and nuts provide Omega-3. Want to add even more Omega-3 to your diet? Eat more oily fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel.
How does food affect your mood? The answer is through neurotransmitters, which work to regulate our mood and are made from amino acids. The neurotransmitter serotonin helps us feel content and is important for rest is made from the amino acid tryptophan which can be found in milk and oats. If you want a good night’s sleep, choose a milk drink before going to bed.
Vitamins and Minerals
Just like the rest of your body, the brain needs vitamins and minerals for functioning. Vitamins such as folate and types of B complex help the nervous system function. A shortage of these vitamins can lead to memory problems, fatigue, muscle weakness, and psychological problems. By eating a variety of foods your body and brain can get the needed vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly.
There are also other foods that we eat that provide valuable benefits to our body and our brain.
• Olive oil is a healthy source of fat and can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Olive oil has also been shown to provide a lower risk of a stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s.
• Berries and other deep-colored fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, spinach, and beans are rich in antioxidants and help protect cells in the body and brain.
• Dark chocolate is also high in antioxidants, and one small piece a day can give you the benefit your brain needs.
It is important to work with your doctor or dietician when making the proper choices for your meal plan. Your physical health is important, but also remember that your mental health is equally important.
Magnolia Creek is here to help you with your physical and mental health. Remember you are never alone. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder, Magnolia Creek can offer support services. For more information or to answer questions, please contact our admissions team at 205-409-4220 or complete our contact form.