Body and brain are two important units which coordinate with one another for a smooth life. They are just like a car and a driver. If any one out of two develops a snag, car will be still. Human body also behaves in the same manner. If brain is not working properly then all body functions would be affected. A person is said to be healthy if he is both physically and mentally fit.
Body and brain are two important units which coordinate with one another for a smooth life. They are just like a car and a driver. If any one out of two develops a snag, car will be still. Human body also behaves in the same manner. If brain is not working properly then all body functions would be affected. A person is said to be healthy if he is both physically and mentally fit. Health does not mean just absence of disease but it also means alertness and activeness. We need a lot of energy for our daily activities, which we get from our food. Out of the total energy we consume daily, about one fourth is used by the brain. Our brain is just 2% of the body weight but it receives 20% of the total body oxygen consumption and 25% of total body glucose utilization. The energy consumption for the brain to simply survive is 0.1 calories per minute. It increases 15 times during high brain activity like solving crossword puzzle. If there is no blood supply to the brain for a single minute, it may lead to deadly consequences. All these show the importance given to brain over other body organs.
We know that our health is wealth. We also know the importance of a balanced diet in maintaining our health. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals in right proportion constitute a balanced diet. Balanced diet is very much important for brain’s health. Our diet affects the brain chemicals that influence our thought processes, mood and behaviour.
Brain consists of 70% fat and 30% proteins. Thus, fatty acids are key building blocks to a healthy brain. For example breast milk contains essential fatty acid (oleic acid) that helps in formation of brain cells or neuron. Studies show that the infants deprived of breast milk are likely to have lower IQ, lower educational achievements and poor social adjustment than breast fed infants.
Essential fatty acids namely Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) and Linoleic acid (LA) are found in avocados, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, sesame, corn, sunflower, soybean and in dairy products. These are also called brain's food. These fatty acids boost our intelligence whereas their deficiency causes hyperactivity, depression, schizophrenia and many other illnesses.
Apart from fats, proteins are also very essential for brain's health. For those who work out they know that protein is essential for muscle building and recovery. However, its benefits do not end here. According to researchers, high protein diet may actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Amino acids, which are building blocks for proteins are also very important for the manufacturing of many kinds of chemical messengers in the brain. So, balanced amount of proteins should be included in diet to improve brain functions. Legumes, nuts and dairy products should be added on daily basis to boost the brain.
Our brain is the busiest organ in the body. It enables us to make decisions, read, speak and perform hundreds of other functions instantly. It is also responsible for many crucial processes for survival like breathing, regulation of body temperature, controlling various hormones etc. In order to carry out these important functions, the brain requires a steady supply of food in the form of glucose. Thus, carbohydrates which produce glucose in the body are also very essential component for brain health. Whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits are rich source of carbohydrates.
Vitamins like B complex and minerals are equally important to boost brain's health. Vitamin B complex is involved in helping the formation of brain chemicals such as dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin. They are very helpful in preserving brain functions and mental activity. Vitamin B rich sources are whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, dark leafy vegetables, banana, grapes, low fat milk, yogurt etc.
Apart from B complex, Vitamin C and E are important antioxidants that intercept free radicals before they affect the brain. They protect brain cells from premature death and help in containing the short and long term memory. Vitamin C rich sources are citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, lime, broccoli, sprouts, tomatoes, guava, kiwi, sweet potatoes etc. Vitamin E rich sources are vegetable oils like wheat germ oil, sunflower and soybean oils, seeds such as sunflower and nuts like almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts.
Various minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc are also very important for brain's health. Calcium is commonly known as an important mineral for building strong and healthy bones but its impact on brain health may often get overlooked. Calcium is involved in every phase of brain cell development. Researchers have shown that deficiency of calcium has significant impact on cognitive functions also. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1000 mg per day for most adults though women over 50 and everyone over 70 should get 1200 mg per day. Apart from dairy sources like milk and cheese, calcium is also present in seeds like sesame, celery, chai, beans, lentils, almonds and in green vegetables like spinach. So their intake should be regular and adequate to provide nutrition to brain. Apart from calcium, two other important minerals to boost brain functions are magnesium and zinc. Green leafy vegetables, figs, avocado, banana, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts are rich source of magnesium. Zinc is an important mineral for brain's health and its deficiency can present the symptoms like altered or loss of taste and smell, lack of appetite, depression and uncoord-inated movements. So regular supply of zinc in the form of food is essential. Avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, guavas, apricots, peaches, kiwi fruit and blue berries are rich sources of zinc.
In a nut shell it can be concluded that a balanced diet, full of multi coloured fruits and vegetables is essential food for brain. They must be included in diet from childhood till death to sharpen the brain and to remain away from variety of brain related degenerative disorders.
Dr. Aditya Nath Tiwari
Department of Rog avum vikriti Vigyan ,
Ch. Brahm Prakash Charak Ayurved Sansthan.
New Delhi. Mob.: 85058-16928