Best Foods Think­ing for

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

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.


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.

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