Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nutrition and the Brain

Food impacts the way we act and the way we feel. We all know when we are hungry we get cranky easily. In more extreme cases when blood sugar plummets, our iritability and ability to think clearly suffers drastically.A person who has just eaten a meal may, in reverse, feel calm and relaxed, even sleepy. That same sleepy person may be more productive after a cup of coffee and a brisk walk. Some one who has consistantly eaten less food  or energy than needed over a long period of time may be apathetic and moody.
How does this relate to the mind? The brain is an organ that requires very specific nutrients and very high energy needs. Any alteration in these can impact both brain function and neurological functioning . Neurotransmitters, transmit nerve impulses from one cell to the next, to the next, and so on and they directly influence things like sleep, moods, and thinking. Deficiencies or extremes of certain vitamins or minerals can cause damage to this very delicately balanced mechanism in the brain causing changes in memory, limiting problem solving and impairing brain function, perhaps permamently.
The first thing we will talk about on the next post will be the issue of energy  intake and mental health.
You should know going in, that several nutritional factors can influence mental health including overall energy intake, intake of energy containing nutrients( proteins, the dreaded carbohydrtes  and even more maligned fats) , alcohol  and intake of vitamin and minerals. Sometimes a deficiency of a single nutrient will have a huge impact on the mind.
Also, please consider in the US and other developed countries, alcoholism is often responsible for nutritional deficiences that affect mental functioning. Disease can also have an impact as does poverty, ignorance, fad diets and the like.
 As we go deeper into this topic, please take time to notice how food, or the lack of it impacts your own mood. When are you at your best and when do people run from you like the plague because of your crancky nature? Examine the attributes of any diets you have embarked upon and note carefully the characteristics of these diets. We won't even go into exercise for a while so save those issues for later.
 I hope you will join me on this pilgrimage and hopefully we will arrive at a greater understanding of the impact of what goes into our bodies and how that impacts what comes out in the way of thought and behaviors.

No comments:

Post a Comment