The brain is the "director" of the human body. It controls all processes occurring in cells, tissues and organs on the principle of "feedback". At the slightest change in the periphery, information enters the brain. In response to it, the brain sends a signal-command to correct the changes. There are millions of such impulses per second in the brain, and this requires energy and a normal morphological structure of the nervous tissue.
All people need to maintain normal nervous activity. Pupils, students and knowledge workers are more likely than others to require such support. A large amount of information, physical and psychological fatigue, emotional instability have a detrimental effect on the central nervous system (CNS), leading to its rapid exhaustion, protective inhibition. You can increase brain activity with the help of medications and food.
Food products are one of the most important factors influencing the metabolism of the entire human body, including nerve cells. The better their composition, the more effectively they increase brain activity. Numerous studies by nutritionists have shown that a balanced composition of the daily diet is important for normal brain function.
The daily menu must include all the necessary ingredients, without which the normal functioning of the body is impossible: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, as well as non-food (ballast) compounds. Neurologists agree with the opinion of nutritionists and believe that nutritional correction in some cases will help to avoid taking medications. What products should be in the composition of food so that it has a beneficial effect on the brain, we will understand further.
Protein component for the brain
Protein is a complex organic compound consisting of amino acids. The role of proteins and amino acids for the central nervous system can hardly be overestimated. Nerve cells are wrapped in a special sheath consisting of myelin protein. The myelin sheath provides fast and clear transmission of the nerve impulse through the neuron. Without a protein coat, high-speed transmission of signals from the brain to peripheral tissues is impossible. For comparison, the speed of movement of a nerve impulse along myelinated nerve fibers is from 10 to 120 m/s, along unmyelinated ones - no more than 2 m/s. Slowing down negatively affects vital activity - sensitivity decreases, reflexes disappear.
The transmission of a nerve impulse from one neuron to another is carried out through synapses (endings) through chemical compounds - neurotransmitters: amino acids proper (gamma-aminobutyric, glutamic, aspartic acids, glycine ) and catecholamines (substances synthesized from amino acid residues). With a protein deficiency in the body, inhibition of brain activity is observed.
For the brain, it is very important not only to get enough protein with food, but also its quality. Vegetable protein does not contain in its molecules some essential amino acids that are not produced in the human body or are synthesized in limited quantities.
Deficiency of indispensable (essential) amino acids automatically leads to a decrease in the formation of a complete protein in the human body, which negatively affects nervous activity.
The daily diet of every person for the full functioning of the brain should include both vegetable protein (legumes, beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains, leafy green vegetables) and animal origin (seafood, fish, meat, egg white ).
Carbohydrates for the CNS
If proteins are the building material for neurons and a substrate for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, then carbohydrates are the energy base. One of the final monosaccharides, which is formed during the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, is glucose. It is needed by the brain for energy. For this reason, carbohydrates must be present in the diet, but in reasonable quantities.
However, US neurologist professor David Perlmutter disagrees with this official opinion of nutritionists and nutritionists. He believes that the human body does not need carbohydrates at all. And there is a good explanation for this: the metabolism is arranged in such a way that in conditions of a shortage of available carbohydrates, the body can independently synthesize them from the available reserves of fats and proteins. This chemical process is called gluconeogenesis.
David Perlmutter suggests limiting carbohydrate intake as much as possible, as he believes that it "kills" the brain. To agree with such an opinion or not is a personal matter for everyone, because it has not yet been scientifically proven. Official medicine believes that it is necessary to take carbohydrates with food.
Healthy carbohydrates currently recognized by nutritionists include sugars found in:
- vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, sweet peppers, zucchini squash );
- greens ( lettuce, onion, parsley, dill );
- moderately sweet or unsweetened fruits ( apples, lemons, avocados );
- berries ( strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries ).
Vegetables, fruits and berries are also useful for their high content of non-starchy polysaccharides, the so-called ballast compounds ( fiber, pectin ), which normalize intestinal motility, adsorb harmful and toxic substances in its lumen, and restore intestinal microflora. Dark colored berries are rich in antioxidants that protect lipids in cell walls from peroxidation and free radical damage.
The benefits of fats
The brain is 60% fats (lipids). Unlike carbohydrates, which do not contain substances indispensable for the human body, fats contain essential fatty acids (classes omega-3, 6 and 9 ), therefore their number in the diet should not be limited in any case. Instead of reducing the amount of fat on the menu, you just need to adjust their qualitative composition.
According to the neurologist D. Perlmutter, eating up to 75% of fats (of the total amount of ingredients) with food, in contrast to the 20% recognized by official medicine, will be useful for nervous activity. The doctor considers “healthy” fats to be extra virgin olive oil, nuts, olives, which can replace almost all fats in the diet. At the same time, he does not prohibit the inclusion in the menu of fish, meat and egg yolk, which are also sources of lipids.
Perlmutter believes that a diet that contains a minimum amount of carbohydrates, but is rich in fats and proteins, improves cerebral circulation, reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's, senile dementia, multiple sclerosis.
Physician's assumptions are based on data from a 2012 Mayo Clinic clinical trial. According to the results, the risk of dementia was 44% with a high-fat diet and 89% with a high-carbohydrate diet.
However, official medicine refutes these postulates, warning that with increased consumption of fats, negative consequences are possible. These are inflammation of the gallbladder, pancreas, constant diarrhea.
Water for the brain
Pure water is a universal solvent for inorganic and organic compounds. Most of the chemical reactions take place in it. With water, nutrients enter the body, and toxic or excess substances are removed from it. In order for the brain to work properly, a person must drink at least 1.5 liters of pure water during the day.
At the same time, mineral water is not taken into account: it contains mineral salts, which do not allow it to balance the mineral composition in the body. Juices, compotes, fruit drinks, tea, coffee also cannot be considered water. They should be taken as a separate dish, since the chemical composition of these drinks includes carbohydrates, proteins and even fats.
Pure water should be drunk fractionally, throughout the day, for example, every 2 hours, one glass. Drink liquid should be 20-30 minutes before meals or an hour after. It is not recommended to drink water 2 hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you can spend half the night going to the toilet. On hot days or during physical work, the volume of clean water consumed should be increased to 2-3 liters per day.
An American neurologist, citing his findings and data published in the specialized literature of clinical studies of the impact of diet on human health, urges colleagues involved in nutritional quality issues to reconsider the existing norms of essential nutritional ingredients. He suggests this ratio: 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrates.
For comparison, the classic ratio is 60% carbs, 20% protein, and 20% fat.
The recommendations proposed by the doctor are close to the existing Mediterranean diet, which involves the enrichment of the diet with vegetables, olives and unrefined oil from them, fish and seafood.
Dr. D. Perlmutter outlined his views on brain-healthy foods in his book The Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar Slowly Killing Your Brain, which was released in 2013 and entered the TOP bestsellers in the US.
It should be understood that there can be no single diet that suits everyone. It depends on many factors - the state of the gastrointestinal tract, the work of enzyme systems, allergies, comorbidities. The diet should contain carbohydrates, which provide energy for the cells to work, and proteins, which are building materials.
Useful for the brain and the body as a whole will be environmentally friendly products, best of all - grown on their own plots or received from their farmstead. As an option - purchased from trusted private traders. They are more preferable than most products offered to the buyer on store shelves.