Continuing on our series of feeding our children, I wanted to touch on the subject of feeding our brain. Our brain is the most complex and specialized organ of the body. It conducts many functions, including: memory, judgment, reasoning, speech and word-formation as well as emotions, voluntary and involuntary muscle movements. This is why it is critical to nourish our brain.
Getting good sources of protein and carbohydrates are essential for brain health. This is because proteins and carbohydrates release neurotransmitters which energize or calm the brain. Specifically, they release dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin—the first two being the energizing neurotransmitter, and the latter being the calming neurotransmitter. The brain makes these neurotransmitters from the amino acids in proteins. Therefore, protein is important because it helps maintain mental energy. The best sources of protein are shellfish, fish, chicken, lean beef, and legumes.
Carbohydrates are important because they can help the mind calm down and focus. In fact, carbohydrates slow the absorption of the amino acids that energize the brain and allow the calming amino acids, especially tryptophan, to go into the brain. The best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains and starches.
It is also important to get enough fat, especially Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are incorporated into cells, making their membranes more fluid so they can communicate with one another; help in developing the brain; are anti-inflammatory; support circulation. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in: fish, flax seeds, walnuts and leafy green vegetables.
Fish and eggs are great foods for the brain because they are a good source of protein and are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
“The brain is wider than the sky.” —Emily Dickinson
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