Nutrition: How To Feed Your Brain?
Most people who diet do so to control their weight or to maintain their health. But did you know that the quality of your diet also directly affects the brain's neurotransmitters? These chemical messengers play a crucial role in regulating mood, energy and even weight. Here is a practical guide to feeding your brain.
What are the neurotransmitters of well-being?
Brain nutrition is not the primary motivation when deciding to eat a balanced diet and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
And yet, this organ directly affects our good mood, our level of tonus and even our fitness weight through chemicals called neurotransmitters. That's why it's important to feed your brain well.
Neurotransmitters are molecules that act as messengers. They circulate information between neurons and have a role in regulating emotions in particular.
The neurotransmitters that have a direct influence on mood and well-being are mainly:
- dopamine or the pleasure hormone that enhances motivation and provides the impetus to make plans
- noradrenaline which provides the physical and mental energy to complete those projects. It also facilitates attention and learning.
- serotonin or the feel-good hormone that regulates mood and helps manage stress and anxiety.
How does diet affect these neurotransmitters?
Anyone wondering how to properly feed your brain should know that the manufacture of the neurotransmitters mentioned above is primarily from elements provided by food.
Dopamine and norepinephrine are two substances synthesized by neurons, i.e. brain cells. As for serotonin, it is 80% manufactured by the gut which is often said to be our second brain!
However, in order to make these chemical messengers, our cells need certain amino acids called tyrosine and tryptophan. Tyrosine allows the production of dopamine and norepinephrine while tryptophan allows the manufacture of serotonin.
Now, you can get these amino acids from your plate by favoring certain foods:
- hard cheeses, avocado, banana and almonds for tyrosine
- legumes, rice, white meats, fish, eggs and chocolate for tryptophan.
It should also be noted that vitamins and trace elements participate in the manufacture of these neurotransmitters, hence the importance of having a varied and balanced diet.
What to eat to feed the brain?
To feed your brain well and keep your neurons in tip-top shape, you need to eat a balanced diet and put diversity in your menus.
The goal is to not have deficiencies that could lead to an imbalance in your neurotransmitters and result in fatigue, anxiety, sadness and even eating disorders like bulimia.
When putting together your menus, remember that your main meals should always include:
- quality proteins such as white meats, fish or legumes associated with rice or semolina because these are the proteins that provide tyrosine and tryptophan.
- Essential fatty acids such as those provided by olive oil as well as omega 3 provided by fatty fish and rapeseed oil. Good fats improve the quality of cell membranes and the transmission of information between neurons.
- Magnesium whose deficiencies are frequent and lead to a decrease in dopamine and greater vulnerability to stress. To fill up on magnesium, favor Rozana and Hépar waters as well as cocoa, nuts and almonds.
- B-group vitamins that contribute to the synthesis of neurotransmitters. You'll find vitamin B1 in brewer's yeast and hazelnuts, vitamin B6 in wheat germ and garlic, vitamin B9 in calf's liver and spinach, and vitamin B12 in shellfish and eggs.
Finally, to maintain your good mood, you should also avoid sweets and sodas that make your blood sugar levels yo-yo. Eating fast sugars leads to fatigue and irritability, encourages snacking and weight gain. It is better to choose foods with a low glycemic index and prefer wholemeal bread to white bread.
With these few tips for a balanced diet, your brain will be well nourished and you will feel both more energetic and more serene.