The diet and brain connection, by Brandi Grimmer, CPhT, CNC

I attended a lecture on food, mood, and cognition recently. Our brain, like any other organ, requires a constant supply of oxygen, nutrients, and stimulation to function optimally. The role the brain plays is to maintain homeostasis, improve mental health, and cognitive function. Various factors affect the functionality of the brain. These can be stress, inflammation, and diet.
The majority of mental health problems first arise in adolescence and early adulthood. But it can be helped; by making changes in our diet we can help further decline in our brain function. Our brain and nervous system requires a constant supply of nutrients such as, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids to perform. The fatty acid DHA is a major component of the brain, and is essential for normal neuron function. Incorporating fish at least twice per week or taking at least 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids has been useful for improving cognitive function. The use of omega-3 fatty acids is also associated with reduced cardiovascular disease.
As with other cells in the body, the brain uses glucose as its primary energy source. Slight changes in glucose supply can impact our memory because it prevents insulin from using the glucose properly. In the brain too much glucose can become toxic and can start a cascade of events related to aging and inflammation. The key is to maintain a low glycemic, Mediterranean, anti-inflammatory diet. This includes foods rich in omega-3s, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and spices. We can further protect ourselves by including regular physical activity, stress management, and quality sleep.
Keep your brain sharp by learning something new daily; read a book, learn a new skill, or enjoy a new hobby. We are never too old to stop learning.
For more information on how to improve cognitive function, schedule an appointment with me. Contact:
brandig@keystonepharm.com
.

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