Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fats, Vitamins, Nutrients and Brain Health

There have been several news reports in the recent years that talk about the effects of certain types of fats on brain function. Some have reported that Omega 3 fatty acids, like those found in salmon and other deep water fish, can actually increase mood stability. Currently there are no studies that can report success in treating mental health issues such as depression with omega 3's, however, the effects of these types of fats on other things, such as  cholesterol lowering and possible joint protection should be enough to warrant a supplement of this kind. There are also indications that lowering the fats and cholesterol in the diet may deplete serotonin levels which could cause mood changes, anger and aggressive behavior. Again there have been no studies to specifically say yes or no on this topic. What we do know if that fats are necessary for the absorption and utilization of many vitamins and nutrients. Additionally some hormones are dependent upon adequate fats in order to function appropriately. Anyone who has experienced a drastic drop in estrogen, either as the subject or the object of the results can testify it does impact mood!
It is clear, the less stressed and contaminated our bodies are, the better will be our moods and the ability to maintain them.

Other nutrients that impact the brains ability to function and possible our moods are Thiamine, B-12,Folic Acid, Niacin , B-6, E, A, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc,  and selenium. Selenium has been associated with fatigue and irritability in toxic levels. Zinc has been linked to apathy and irritability. Copper deficiency has been associated with impairment of brain function and the immune system including changes in certain chemical receptors and lowering of neurotransmitters. Manganese, found in whole grains and  nuts, in excess causes symptoms similar to Parkinson's while if deficient may decrease brain function overall. Magnesium aids in transmission of nerve impulses.
 What we can discern with any certainty at this point in time is that our brains are the captain of the ship. The brain controls all impulses, thoughts, feelings, and the myriad of functions that takes place without our even having to think about them. Nutrition is the fuel that pilots this captain. It serves everyone to  be vigilant about what we put into our bodies, and what we expose it to. Chemicals in our food have an impact on not only our physical health but also our mental health. The closer we can get to natural foods in their natural state, the better.

  For those of you who have children in your home, this is critical, in my opinion. The more time that is spent supplying little brains with chemicals and dyes, the  worse will be the impact. Our kids deserve to be fed wholesome, healthy, safe foods at home and at school.

It is very hard to decipher what is hype and advertising propaganda from solid nutritional evidence based information. I recommend anyone who is serious about learning how foods impact our health consult a nutritionist. I also recommend we all do some research into the amount, type and longevity of any supplements we put into our mouths. It is said the soil our food grows in is bankrupt of nutrients that create healthy foods We cannot get proper nutrition without supplementation. Supplements should be treated as medicines. They have expiration dates and have interactions. Too much can be harmful.

Our bodies were designed to run in an impeccable state of equilibrium. It can adapt to a degree, but it has breaking points at every turn. Just as a car can run in less than optimal conditions, so our bodies can function in less than optimal states. They just don't function well and systems tend to break down over time.

Do some research. Take some time to really experiment with foods. See how your body responds.  The ultimate responsibility for the care and maintenance of this marvelous machine is in your hands.

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