Food for the brain - high intellectual performance through targeted nutrition
Neuroscientists can today confirm what has been described by representatives of naturopathy for centuries: the daily diet has a direct influence on the blocking or optimization of our mental performance. But whether modern brain food or old nutritional medicine: It is not only important which foods we eat, but also how often and in what quantities.
From schoolchildren to employees: everyone has a lot of intellectual work to do. You spend half the day at school, in the lecture hall or in the office and additional hours at your desk doing homework, giving presentations or preparing. At the same time, more and more people are complaining of short attention spans and difficulty concentrating at work. The number of children who are diagnosed with hyperactivity, mental absence and partial academic performance disorders is also increasing. In addition to sensible break sequences and sufficient physical exercise to compensate for this, a certain diet can give the brain an optimal boost.
A constant glucose level optimizes brain performance: Our brain uses 20 percent of the total energy that we metabolize from the food we eat and burns 20 grams of glucose per day. Because glucose cannot be stored in the brain, as in the muscles, it depends on a stable blood sugar level. If this drops, concentration and thinking skills wane. If we consume simple sugars, for example in the form of chocolate or glucose drops, this causes the blood sugar level to skyrocket. This in turn alarms the pancreas to an increased secretion of insulin, which accelerates the incorporation of sugar into the cells. The result is an even greater decrease in the glucose content in the blood and thus in mental performance. Conversely, an excessively high blood sugar level has been shown to have a negative effect on brain performance. Brain food must therefore ensure a reliable and moderate concentration of glucose. The regular supply of small portions while studying is therefore more sensible than a few large meals.
Fresh air and water help to increase performance: in order to burn glucose, the cells of the brain need a lot of oxygen, which is 40% of the total physical requirement. For optimal energy yield, it is beneficial to study in a well-ventilated room. The oxygen molecules, in turn, are bound to the red blood cells and transported to the brain. If there is a lack of the iron required for this, it can lead to disorders of concentration and memory. A brain-friendly diet also takes into account a sufficient iron content in the blood.
An equally important means of transport of nutrients and information is water. If an adult's body consists of approx. 60% water, the water content of the brain is even 75%. At least 2 liters of water or light, unsweetened tea should be consumed throughout the day, as a lack of water (dehydration) can lead to a decrease in mental performance of up to 20% (Kossak 2006). High quality mineral water also contains essential trace elements.
Grains, fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and fiber: Whenever possible, grain should be included every day, for example in the form of whole grain bread, pasta or rice, which should not only provide vitamins and trace elements. During mentally sedentary activity, the digestion is kept going and constipation is prevented. Because digestive sluggishness leads to fermentation and putrefaction processes in the intestines, the toxic end products of which can affect the brain. Regular walks also promote digestion.
Vegetables, fruits and herbs, raw or cooked, as freshly squeezed vegetable or fruit juice, should cover the need for vitamins, trace elements and bioactive plant substances. Fresh parsley has a high iron and vitamin C content and can therefore be used generously for seasoning.
Ernst Schrott, well-known Ayurveda expert and cookbook author, advises using the strong essential oils of horseradish to get the mind going. 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish, 1 tablespoon of ground almonds and 1 tablespoon of fresh, grated coconut are mixed with a little cane sugar and a pinch of salt and sprinkled over crispy salads as “student parmesan”.
Nuts and nuts - have been used as trail mix for a long time: Nuts, seeds and almonds, a handful several times a day, provide the brain with valuable fat-soluble vitamins, the B group nerve vitamins and a high phosphorus content. In her 800-year-old nutritional therapy, the curative Hildegard von Bingen already pointed out the positive effects of these fruits, especially almonds: “But if you have an empty brain and a bad complexion and therefore a headache, you often eat the almond fruit and it fills your brain and gives it the right color. […] ”(Strehlow 2005). Hazelnuts and walnuts are also popular food for the nerves and the brain and have long been a component of trail mixes, as the latter are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin E.
The situation is similar with vegetable oils that do not lose their nerve-nourishing properties when given untreated on lettuce or over potatoes and vegetables. The brain enjoys cooked legumes, tofu or soy milk several times a week. Soybeans, closely followed by lentils, stand out from other vegetable fruits due to their high protein content and have a high proportion of the nutrients and active ingredients that correspond to the high sugar and protein turnover rate of the brain, e.g. Magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B complex and lecithin.
Animal fats - Taken in moderation, it should get it: Dairy products in moderation, e.g. in the form of cheese, yoghurt or a glass of milk can, due to their high protein content, act as a “pick-me-up”, just like meat and fish preparations. However, these should be used sparingly: Two to three small portions per week cover the requirement, whereby the meat should be as lean as possible. The knowledge of the importance of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish on brain activity is already used in the treatment of hyperactivity (ADHD) and learning disorders. (Dipl.Päd. Jeanette Viñals Stein, alternative practitioner, 02/01/2010)
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Strehlow, W .: "The nutritional therapy of Hildegard von Bingen", Weltbild 2005
Schrott, Ernst: "The Ayurveda Cookbook"
Kossak, H.-C.: "Learning made easy" Heidelberg 2006