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Foods Make You Smarter!

Por Emiliana Faillace, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -
Foods Make You Smarter!

Eating can help you keep your brain in shape! Some foods contribute to improving your memory and increasing your concentration, learning ability, and mental performance. They can also help you prevent several diseases and improve your mood.

Nutrients are absorbed, and then the necessary amount is transported in the bloodstream towards the brain, where they are used to synthesize chemical neurotransmitters. These substances are used to transmit information from one neuron to another.The neurotransmitters that control the learning and memory processes are acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Therefore, by eating foods that contain the specific nutrients to produce these substances, we may improve brain function.

To synthesize acetylcholine, it is recommended to eat cauliflower, beef, liver, eggs, and nuts. This can help you to improve your memory and learning abilities. The production of norepinephrine can be induced by consumption of  dairy and other animal products, such as meats, fish, poultry, and butter. This can strengthen your state of alertness, as well as your response to different stimuli. But, keep in mind that animal products are usually high in saturated fat, so it’s wise to have them in moderation. A high consumption of  saturated fat increases blood cholesterol levels and may cause a heart attack or stroke.

To synthesize serotonin, we need to eat foods that are high in an amino acid called tryptophan. This amino acid is found both in animal and vegetable proteins (for example, in legumes as beans, chickpeas, and lentils). The main function of serotonin is to improve the person’s mood and to keep him/her relaxed.

Don’t forget that the main nutrient of the brain is glucose, which is acquired from  carbohydrates. Try to eat at least 130 g of carbohydrates each day.

Some studies have found an association between vitamin C consumption and the prevention of brain cancer. B complex vitamins also participate in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. The foods that contain such vitamins are: beer yeast, chicken, plantains, liver, eggs, and cheese.

Another thing to consider is the order with which you eat. To get the best results on brain function, researchers suggest proteins should be eaten before carbohydrates. This way, amino acids can reach the brain and promote the synthesis of neurotransmitters. If carbohydrates are consumed first, a large amount of insulin will be released into the blood stream and, consequently, more amino acids will be captured by the muscles, so only tryptophan makes it to the brain. The result is a higher production of serotonin, which can make you feel sleepy.

Therefore, we can conclude that by just having a balanced diet, you can help keep both your brain and body in shape. Eat all types of foods, but in moderation!


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