Our Brain has Nutritional Needs

This often has a bearing on Mood Levels

Why Your Brain Needs Water

Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., Behavioral Neuroscience

On most mornings, one of the first stops through my waking-up routine is the kitchen cupboard, where I keep my cups and other drinking vessels. Even if I'm not particularly thirsty, as a student of the brain, I'm convinced of the value of drinking enough water. Of all the things I've learned for keeping my mind sharp, from getting enough sleep to doing puzzles, staying hydrated may be the one I follow most closely.

Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency.

Years of research have found that when we're parched, we have more difficulty keeping our attention focused. Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory. The ability to perform mental maths, like calculating whether or not you'll be late for work if you hit snooze for another 15 minutes, is compromised when your fluids are low.

Over the course of a typical twenty-four hour period, the longest time most of us go without fluid intake is the six to eight hours we spend sleeping. Sleeping is hardly the kind of activity that you sweat over, but that doesn't mean you're not losing water during the night. With every breath, you lose moisture, and the cumulative effect of a night's sleep

is to dry out.





Vitamin D Improves Brain Function

New studies show low vitamin D levels may impair cognitive function according to Diane Welland, a Dietitian and writer for Scientific American.

She says the following: The push to prevent skin cancer may have come with unintended consequences—impaired brain function because of a deficiency of vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” is synthesized in our skin when we are exposed to direct sunlight, but sunblock impedes this process. And although vitamin D is well known for promoting bone health and regulating vital calcium levels, it does more than that. Scientists have now linked this fat-soluble nutrient’s hormone-like activity to a number of functions throughout the body, including the workings of the brain.

“We know there are receptors for vitamin D throughout the central nervous system and in the hippocampus,” said Robert J. Przybelski, a doctor and research scientist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “We also know vitamin D activates and deactivates enzymes in the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid that are involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth.” In addition, animal and laboratory studies suggest vitamin D protects neurons and reduces inflammation.

How much is enough vitamin D? Experts say 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily—about the amount your body will synthesize from 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure two to three times a week—is the ideal range for almost all healthy adults. Keep in mind, however, that skin color, where you live and how much skin you have exposed all affect how much vitamin D you can produce.


Foods that Increase Dopamine Naturally

Excerpts from http://www.medhelp.org

What we eat affects the formation of neurotransmitters,

and some diet-related neurotransmitters have a significant

affect on our mood, our appetite and our cravings.

When our body has enough Dopamine we're blessed with feelings of bliss and pleasure, euphoria, appetite control, controlled motor movements, and we feel focused.

Banana: A banana is a good source of tyrosine. Tyrosine is the amino acid neurons turn into norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine are excitatory neurotransmitters that are important in motivation, alertness, concentration and memory.

Beetroot: Betaine, an amino acid naturally present in certain vegetables, particularly beetroot (beets), is an antidepressant of the first order. Betaine acts as a stimulant for the production of SAM-e (S-adenoslmethionine). The body cannot do without SAM-e, which it produces.

SAM-e is directly related to the production of certain hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of well-being and pleasure.

Free Range Eggs: Research from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that people who suffer from depression have low amount of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in their brains. One natural antidepressant is to increase dopamine by eating protein-rich foods. such as eggs for this purpose, because they are versatile and appeal to some people who choose

not to eat meat.

Beans and legumes are rich in protein and are healthful boosters of both dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, Protein Meat, Milk, Eggs, Cheese and fish are very healthy, high-protein, dopamine-and-norepinephrine-booster food.

Watermelon: Watermelon juice is loaded with vitamins A, B6, and C! Vitamin B6 is used by the body to manufacture neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Vitamin C also enhances the immune system while protecting the body from free radicals.

French scientists have shown that subjects deficient in omega-3 fatty acids had more receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin and a corresponding decrease in dopamine in the frontal cortex.

Eating for Brain Power

Thinking, dreaming, cooking, focusing, body movement, breathing, living, laughing all these functions and in fact every action you can think of require the brain. Considering that the brain is the control centre for the whole body, I think that nourishing this organ with the right for foods, should be a priority.


Interestingly the brain requires around 20% of our daily energy intake, and its preferable source is carbohydrates (the organic fresh variety of fruits and vegetables). This information is no green card to indulge in high sugar foods, quite the contrary with researchers finding that high blood sugar is associated with elevated cortisol…this hormone actually impairs memory. So keep the food as natural as possible, and choose the slow releasing carbohydrates like beans, potatoes, bananas (with some walnuts..perfect mix), apples and the majority of fresh organic produce contain fibre, this slows down the blood glucose release creating perfect energy for the brain.


The brain is the master computer that sends chemical messages throughout the whole body, instructing the organs on what to do. This process is made possible by an important group of chemical messengers, prostaglandins, these initiate the self-repair mechanisms in the body. In order to manufacture healthy brain cells and prostaglandins, the body MUST have Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Integral to the cell membranes and enzymes within the cells.

Your brain is 60% fat and it requires supply of healthy essential fats to create healthy cells.

Interestingly these fats can also be used for treating depression and other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, as well as benefiting infant brain development.

Some great sources include; organic flax seeds, organic walnuts organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, cold water fish (salmon and sardines), organic avocado, organic olives and their oil.

Not all fats are created equal and the nasty trans-fats found in some processed foods, and all deep fried foods can actually damage cellular structure and affect thinking by affecting the synapses. So the message is clean, keep your food as fresh, organic and healthy as possible.

Three Excerpts From

Nutrients Scientifically Proven to Make You Feel Good

by Maya Dangerfield

How can foods improve our moods? It all comes down to the brain. A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood, and certain nutrients have a profound impact on maintaining normal brain function. To date, researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified nine nutrients that can combat depression and boost our mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc. Try one of these foods for a mid-day pick-me-up, to promote long-term happiness, or to ward off the nagging worry that you forgot to lock the front door (You did remember, right?).

A trace mineral found in small amounts in the body, Chromium helps the body metabolize food. A lack of chromium hurts the body’s ability to regulate insulin (the hormone that regulates sugar) and may lead to diabetes-related complications like vision loss and high blood pressure.

How eating it helps: Chromium plays an important role in increasing the brains’ level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood. Because chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, it’s been found to be an effective treatment of depression.

Folate (alternatively known as B9 or folic acid) helps the body create new cells and supports serotonin regulation. Serotonin passes messages between nerve cells and helps the brain manage a variety of functions, from determining mood to regulating social behavior. Folate deficiency can cause fatigue in addition to lowering levels of serotonin.

How eating it helps: A pair of power nutrients, Folate and B12 are often paired together to treat depression. By itself, Folate has the added benefit of boosting the efficiency of antidepressants.

Magnesium is a mineral that plays over 300 roles in maintaining and protecting the body’s health. Deficiency can cause irritability, fatigue, mental confusion, and predisposition to stress.

How eating it helps: Magnesium plays a large role in the development of serotonin, which is a major contributor to feelings of happiness. Due to its ability to help regulate emotions, it’s a common element in homeopathic remedies

for balancing mood.

Vitamin B6 helps the production of neurotransmitters (which send messages from the brain to the rest of the body). Deficiency in B6 can cause short-term anemia; long-term effects include a weakened immune system,

confusion, and depression.

How eating it helps: Consuming vitamin B6 is essential for regulating brain function, which influences our emotions. In addition to regulating healthy moods, Vitamin B6 is also an effective method for treating premenstrual depression.

Vit B12 is an essential element that aids in the creation of red blood cells and nerves. Low levels of B12 can cause short-term fatigue, slowed reasoning, and paranoia, and are associated with depression . Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in meats, eggs, and animal byproducts, meaning vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk

of developing a deficiency.

How eating it helps: Because moods depend largely on signals from the brain, B12 plays an important role in regulating depression — consuming enough Vitamin B12 allows the body to synthesize a group of nutrients critical for normal neurological function.