What are Brain Nutrients?
It would be easier to understand what brain nutrients are if we break these words down and define them separately.
Nutrients are substances that can be metabolized by humans (plants and animals too) to give energy, maintain life, build tissues, and promote growth.
Imagine having a car without fuel. You obviously won’t be able to drive anywhere with it.
In the same way, nutrients are the fuel that drives our body system. For better understanding, let’s paint yet another scenario.
Imagine that you left your house driving a car with insufficient gas; your car would stop instantaneously wherever your fuel gets used up.
It’s pretty much the same thing with our bodies.
When we have way less than the recommended nutrient levels in our bodies, we become nutrient-deficient, we become sick and can no longer function as effectively as possible.
Nutrients are gotten from the food we eat and water we drink and sometimes, from external elements like the sun.
It then follows that to maintain our body system’s functioning; we should deliberately plan healthy diets to keep us nourished.
Types of Nutrients
There are different types of Nutrients, and they come in various forms too.
Hygienic drinking water is odorless, colorless, and tasteless and is widely regarded as the most important nutrient.
First, water is the nutrient needed in the largest amount.
Our entire body mass is made up of about 70% water and, as such, needs enough water in nutrients to function optimally.
Water is also the vehicle that carries other nutrients around our body system.
Water also serves as a transportation mechanism for other nutrients to the body organs and cells.
Water helps regulate temperature, flush out wastes and toxins, aids digestion, creates saliva, and lots more. It’s the nutrient of all nutrients.
Carbohydrates are energy-giving foods containing sugars.
This type of nutrient is what supplies the power to carry on our everyday tasks.
Examples of carbohydrates include rice, pasta, bread, etc.
Carbohydrate deficiencies lead to fatigue, dizziness, nausea and, in severe cases, serious diseases like diabetes, dental caries, etc.
Proteins are body-building foods that help our body cells to function properly.
They ensure the growth and development of our hair, bones, and muscles.
They feed our skin and help to form anti-bodies.
Protein is gotten from meat, fish, dairy, and poultry products.
Beans and nuts are also great sources of protein.
Protein deficiency can lead to serious disease conditions like kwashiorkor, edema, marasmus, organ failure, weak immune systems, etc
Vitamins play many roles in the human body ranging from boosting the immune system to supporting healthy blood, strengthening teeth and bones, and helping the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates.
We can get enough vitamins from eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
Minerals perform similar functions as vitamins and are sometimes used interchangeably with them.
The major difference between them is that while vitamins are organic substances gotten from plants and animals (and in some cases the sun), minerals are inorganic substances from the soil or water that we absorb.
Examples of minerals include iron, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfur, etc
Individuals try to consciously limit the intake of fats and oils in their diet, owing largely to the adverse health effects associated with too much fat.
However, the body needs some fat to function optimally. It just should be moderated.
Like carbohydrates, fats give the body energy and are needed for metabolism.
Now that we understand what nutrients are, it’s easier to grasp the meaning and importance of brain nutrients.
Brain nutrients are simply nutrients that aid the proper functioning of the brain.
These brain nutrients help to boost memory and other brain functions.
In other words, these nutrients help the brain to function optimally in all aspects.
Some Essential Brain Nutrients
Certain nutrients are known to affect brain health specifically.
They are called brain Nutrients. They include:
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 acids are nicknamed “the brain food” because of the numerous benefits to the brain.
Just as about 70% of our entire body mass is made up of water, the same amount of fat makes up the brain.
About 30% of brain grey matter is made up of Omega-3.
Since Omega-3 fatty acids represent a large part of the brain, it follows that the brain should always have a regular supply of Omega-3 fatty acids for proper functioning.
Omega-3 fatty acids help in building up the cells and nerves that make up the brain structure.
They also help to improve memory span, improve emotional health, and aid speedy learning.
Omega-3 fatty acids are contained in fishes like Salmon, Mackerel, cod liver oil, oysters, Herring, Sardines, Flaxseed, Walnuts, and soybeans.
Your brain can’t function properly without water – it’s that simple.
When we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated.
Dehydration is particularly bad for the brain because it can cause disorientation and negatively affect general cell functioning.
Water also helps to rid the brain of toxins and is responsible for transporting other nutrients to the brain.
Ensure that the water you drink is healthy and clean.
You can get water nutrients from some fruits like watermelon and pineapple.
Vitamin B12 and Folate:
Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause cognitive impairments if found in the brain in large quantities.
We can significantly reduce the homocysteine levels in our brains by taking enough vitamin B12 and Folate in our diets.
Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and Folic acid also help the brain avoid shrinkage and improve memory.
To gain these nutrients, eat fish like Salmon, Tuna, and Sardines.
Beef is a great source of vitamin B12. Green vegetables like broccoli and avocado are good sources of folate.
Another important brain nutrient is vitamin D.
Vitamin D is good for fighting against memory loss and boosting cognitive performance.
It also reduces the brain’s risk of inflammation and contains neuroprotective substances that fight against neurodegenerative processes associated with some diseases.
Sunlight is the primary vitamin D source, but it can also be gotten from some oily fish and margarine.
The relationship between your brain health and physical health
When one organ in the human body malfunctions, the whole body system is affected.
But if we had no choice but to concentrate on nourishing just one organ of the body, which organ would it be?
Based on health experts’ advice, it’d be the brain.
There are five vital organs in the human body – the heart, kidney, brain, lungs, and liver.
Of these five essential organs, the brain is the most critical organ of them all.
This is because every human body system (the nervous system, circulatory system, etc.) is connected to the brain and needs the brain to function.
The brain is the body’s control organ. No human activity can be carried out without the co-operation of the brain.
As the body systems controller, the brain orders other body organs to function by sending signals (directives) to these organs.
Until the brain receives and duly processes information (feedback) from the body, the body system cannot take any action.
This is why certain physical impairments in speech and movement may occur when a part of the brain responsible for that function malfunctions.
The brain is also regarded as the most complex organ of the body because it controls everything about the body system, and they’re all connected to it.
The brain controls our emotions, habits, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and memories.
It controls vision, sleeping and waking, eating, balance, hearing, smell, touch, behavior, etc.
Think about the most complex body functions, then think about the simplest and seemingly unimportant ones- the brain controls all of them.
Having established that the brain controls the entire body system, it is now clear that the human body depends on the brain’s health for its proper functioning.
If the brain is unhealthy, it can no longer control the body systems as it should.
If the brain is ill, physical health is invariably affected.
An unhealthy brain poses a risk factor for chronic physical conditions since the brain controls the immune system, which acts as the body’s defense.
If the brain fails to function effectively, the immune system may fail to give the necessary support to fight diseases in the body.
People with physical health conditions are also at risk of developing mental health problems.
How brain nutrients will help your meditation
Whenever there is talk about meditation, it mostly involves mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other meditation forms.
We hardly ever talk about the relationship between nutrition, especially brain nutrition, and meditation.
While brain nutrients have been proven to enhance physical and mental states, there’s very hazy information on the impact of brain nutrients on your meditation.
Brain nutrients help with your meditation in the following ways:
Brain nutrients aid your ability to concentrate
This comes as no surprise really. Seeing that the body and brain are made up predominantly of brain nutrients like water, the body does not cope well without water.
In the same vein, drinking clean and adequate water quantities affects meditation since it affects your ability to concentrate.
Brain nutrients aid with stress and depression
Vitamins are essential for proper development, and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are good sources of vitamins.
Due to their antioxidant properties, and, the presence of Vitamin E and zinc, they tend to aid with stress and depression.
Curbs neurodegenerative processes
Vitamin D is yet another brain nutrient that is beneficial to meditation.
Its ability to effectively curb neurodegenerative processes and its ability to mitigate brain inflammation make it an exceptional brain nutrient that aids meditation.
Eases muscle spasms
Milk contains Vitamin B2, and B12.
It also contains potassium in large amounts which has been proven to ease muscle spasms in individuals.
Milk also aids better sleep which is essential to the functionality of the brain.
You need a functional brain to meditate effectively.
Provides a steady energy source
While carbs are of immense importance to the brain as it relates to meditation, it is important to understand the two types of carbs: Non-processed, and processed carbs.
As a rule of thumb, opt for non-processed carbs as the sugars tend to break down slowly, ensuring a sustained level/period of energy.
Processed carbs on the other hand provide short instantaneous bursts of energy, leaving you irritable, and unable to effectively concentrate consequently.
When discussing healthy living, we think about the heart, kidney, lungs, and other vital organs and ironically forget the most important of them all – the brain.
The brain is the most complex organ in the body as it’s made up of various cells and nerves that connect it to every other part of the body.
The brain serves as the one organ that directs or controls every other organ of the body.
It controls human activity and helps us positively interact with our external environment.
Brain health is so important to the overall health and functioning of the body.
An unhealthy brain puts you at risk of developing chronic physical health conditions.
The brain affects our physical health, and so do brain nutrients, and meditation.
Brain nutrients affect physical nutrition even to the point of determining how well we can engage in meditation.
This places a burden on us to prioritize brain health, meditation, and brain nutrition for the numerous benefits.
These benefits are not just restricted to our brains, but also our general physical health.
About the author:
Okonkwo Noble understands the need for sustainable travel. He is a foremost travel enthusiast, writer, Electrical electronic engineer, and adventurer. When not writing for Simple Smart Science, he also volunteers as a part-time English teacher for Internally displaced children.
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