Best Foods Thinking for
There is a great amount of confusion and uncertainty prevailing about what nutrients are required to feed the brain optimally. This is the first of two articles on the best foods to feed your brain. Here, a brief description of the brain provides a foundation for a discussion about the most important nutrients, fats and oils. THE BRAIN: With the brain being the greediest organ in your body, it has always been surprising to me that people pay so little attention to feeding it. The brain weighs approximately 1.3 to 1.4 kg (about 3 pounds) and contains about 160,000 km (100,000 miles) of blood vessels and about 100 billion sophisticated and specialized cells called neurons that each have between 1,000 and 10,000 links (synapses) between them. At any given moment your brain is processing about 100 million pieces of information.
Thinking occurs across this vast network of cells, chemicals, membranes and molecules, linking thoughts, ideas and memories, which generate moods and behavior, in what can potentially be a beautifully orchestrated process. This vast network is supported by the same nutrients that support the rest of the body. Many nutrients are required in greater quantities for the brain and are significantly more important for brain function than for general bodily functions.
FATS AND OILS IN THE BRAIN:
The dry weight of the brain is 60% fat and although the body can convert most of the fats required for the brain from the carbohydrates we consume, there are 20% to 25% of fats that have to come directly from our diet. These are essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are called essential fats since the body cannot make them and the brain requires them to function optimally. They are chemically polyunsaturated fats. These fats have the amazing capacity to allow electrical stimuli to be used very efficiently when our neurons communicate with each other via specialized signals.
Where are EFAs found?
About 60 years ago, when farmers realized that it was easier to grow warm-weather crops for seeds, from which omega-6 fats are derived, they started growing more to the exclusion of omega-3 fats, which are derived from coldweather seeds. Thus, most people today consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fats.