Nutrition for your brain!


Nutritional Deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, food allergies, toxins, and digestive, immune, and metabolic imbalances, primarily influence mood, behavior, attention, and attitude. Addressing nutrient deficiencies is the first step to heal your brain and make it function better!

Nutrients from food provides all the raw materials for structure and function of the brain cells, to keep all communication systems running coherently, so you can think, emote, learn and remember. Our brain is made up of 60% fats, of which omega-3 constitutes the most part, if you don’t have enough the brain will not work optimally. Aside from regulating your gene function, regulating the immune system, and improving your metabolism, these fats are a vital component of the cell membranes that covers every one of 100 trillion cells in the body. Without omega-3 fats, proper messages cannot be communicated from one cell to another. The 2 most important omega-3 fats to know about are EPA and DHA. They are both necessary omega-3 fats. Since your brain is mostly fat, 60% of your brain is specifically made up of DHA. If you don’t have enough, the brain doesn’t work.

In the last 150 years, we have seen unprecedented changes in our fat intake. Refined, omega-6, inflammatory oils, including corn, soy, and safflower oils, replaced omega-3 fats from fish and wild plants. The ratio of omega3:omega 6 has increased from 1:1 to 1:10 or 1:20 in our diets, which is one of the major reasons for the epidemic of brain disorders. The brain does not work without omega-3 fats. This is why low levels of omega-3 have been linked to everything from depression and anxiety, to bipolar disease to schizophrenia to ADD, autism and learning disabilities.

Role of omega-3 in the body

  • They build cell membranes
  • They reduce inflammation
  • They balance blood sugar, which is essential for keeping brain healthy
  • They increase the activity of the key molecule called BDNF, which acts like fertiliser for your brain, stimulating new cell growth and cell connections.

The cell membranes are made up of omega-3 fats, cholesterol, and the phospholipids, these trillions of cell membranes are the ears that “listen” for messages that tell your brain to be happy, sad, to focus, to forget or remember, to be sluggish or full of energy, to feel pain or pleasure, to relax or to stress.

Omega-3 fatty acids– These can be found in foods like chia seeds, flax seeds, ghee, walnuts, hemp seeds, edamame, seaweed, cod-liver oil, fish- salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters.

Proteins and amino acids– Proteins and amino acids get transformed in your body into messengers or neurotransmitters, like serotonin, GABA, dopamine. When we don’t eat enough proteins at every meal, the production of these neurotransmitters can suffer. You will be sluggish, foggy, anxious, unfocused, tired and depressed. Proteins can be consumed from foods like nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, chicken, eggs(pasture-raised), meat and seafood (wild-caught). Try consuming the organic variety when possible to reduce toxic load.

Carbohydrates– Provides beneficial fibre and phytonutrients, for a healthy microbiome. As we know 90% of the neurotransmitter Serotonin is made in the gut, this neurotransmitter is responsible for keeping you happy, reducing anxiety and irritability. Apart from eating a good serving of protein in every meal, adding in whole grains like millets, quinoa, amaranth, ragi, colourful fruits and vegetables, can help in providing the nutrients needed for healthy function. A good rule of thumb is to fill 75% of your plate with colourful non-starchy vegetables.

Minerals and vitamins–  Our bodies are resourceful and make most of what we need from a very few basic raw materials. However under certain conditions, such as stress, toxicity, medication use, infection, genetic variations, or ageing, we may need to boost the conditionally essential nutrients. They are called that because they are needed under certain special conditions like above. Getting regular tests done to ensure you have good levels of B vitamins, Vitamin D, Zinc, selenium and magnesium, ensures good health. These minerals are critical for proper functioning of many systems in the body and the brain. Food sources of B vitamins (bee pollen & nutritional yeast). Vitamin D is found in fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks. Getting 15 minutes of daily sunshine is another way to get the levels going. Food sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, nuts & seeds, meat, shellfish & legumes. Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Magnesium is found in dark chocolate, nuts, beans, leafy greens and seaweed.

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Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.