Effects of Diet on Brain Function
Have you had a conversation with someone lately where you found you just couldn't pay attention to what you were hearing? Do you know what kind of diet you had during the week? Do you know if what you are eating is the best thing for your mental health? Your diet is affecting your every move right now. It is even affecting your ability to comprehend what you are reading right now. Whether you notice it or not, the way you are acting and feeling on a daily basis the result of what you choose to eat. Mental health is directly related to personal diet choices.
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These “bad mood foods” can cause brief positive spikes in brain activity but, due to nutritional content, can leave an individual feeling tired or unable to concentrate shortly after providing only a short burst of energy to the brain's neurons (Moorman 152). In looking into a prolonged diet of these bad mood foods, most individuals have developed issues with depression, insomnia, hyperactivity, and chronic pain as a result of poor neuron response (Brody).
On the other side pertaining to proper nutrition, it is proven that a balanced diet and regular exercise can protect the brain from development of mental disorders (LiveScience). “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” according to UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, Fernando Gómez-Pinilla. “Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function.” He adds, “This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage, and counteracting the affects of aging” (LiveScience). The most well-known nutrient linked to the improvement of brain function are Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3, found commonly in salmon, has proven to fight against memory loss and mental disorders while also improving learning abilities in youth. Gómez-Pinilla also commented on the benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acid.
Omega-3 fatty acids support synaptic plasticity and seem to positively affect the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory that are found on synapses. Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in rodents results in impaired learning and memory (LiveScience).
With the proof that the brain can test highly with the results of one powerful nutrient such as the Omega-3, it can also be determined that other nutrients found within a typical daily diet can also result in maintaining natural good moods. The most important find for maintaining the brain's chemical process is the balance of proteins and carbohydrates. Blood sugar, or glucose, is produced in our bodies when carbohydrates are consumed. Every cell uses this glucose to generate energy to allow the body to properly function. While most cells can also convert fats and proteins into glucose, brain cells cannot, so any disruption in the availability of glucose in the brain will ultimately affect all body systems (Zimmerman 68). Because carbohydrates supply most of the fuel the body bums for energy, they are detrimental to active brain function. However, the type of carb foods and depending on when they are consumed determine how they will affect brain function. There are two kinds of carbs: simple, such as starches, and complex, which are better...