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Old 02-29-2012, 06:22 PM
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Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function


The conclusion of this Abstract is copied below, however the whole article is worth reading, if you want to learn more how nutrition plays a role in brain health.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/

Quote :
Diet, exercise and other aspects of our daily interaction with the environment have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. We now know that particular nutrients influence cognition by acting on molecular systems or cellular processes that are vital for maintaining cognitive function. This raises the exciting possibility that dietary manipulations are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities and protecting the brain from damage, promoting repair and counteracting the effects of aging. Emerging research indicates that the effects of diet on the brain are integrated with the actions of other lifestyle modalities, such as exercise (see BOX 2) and sleep131,132. The combined action of particular diets and exercise on the activation of molecular systems that are involved in synaptic plasticity has strong implications for public health and the design of therapeutic interventions. Owing to the encouraging results of clinical and preclinical studies that showed the beneficial effects of foods on the brain, the topic has attracted substantial media attention. Some of the information that has been conveyed has been hazy or exaggerated, and has contributed to peopleís apprehension of taking advantage of scientific advances. As discussed, several dietary components have been found to have positive effects on cognition; however, caution is required, as a balanced diet is still the stepping-stone for any dietary supplementation. By the same token, popular dietary prescriptions that might help to reduce weight do not necessarily benefit the physiology of the body or the mind.
Brain networks that are associated with the control of feeding are intimately associated with those that are involved in processing emotions, reward and cognition. A better understanding of how these networks interact will probably produce fundamental information for the development of strategies to reduce food addiction and obesity, a major social and economic burden in Western society. It is encouraging that modern psychiatry has started to appraise the implementation of some of these concepts for the treatment of various mental disorders. For example, a consensus report from the American Psychiatric Associationís Committee on Research on Psychiatric Treatments has provided general guiding principles for the use of omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of mood disorders80.
The fact that dietary factors and other aspects of lifestyle have an effect on a long-term timescale contributes to an under-estimation of their importance for public health. Accordingly, the slow and imperceptible cognitive decay that characterizes normal aging is within the range-of-action of brain foods, such that successful aging is an achievable goal for dietary therapies. The capacity of diet to modulate cognitive abilities might have even longer-term implications in light of recent studies that imply that nutritional effects might be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events. Research indicating that an excessive intake of calories might negate the positive effects of certain diets suggests that there is an undefined line between abundance of foods and neural health. Ironically, judging by the increasing rate of obesity in Western countries, which affects individualís health and the economy as a whole, the excessive food intake in these wealthy nations seems to be almost as harmful as the lack of it in poor countries. It is intriguing that several countries with limited resources, such as India, have a reduced prevalence of neurological disorders that have been associated with diet, such as Alzheimerís disease. This raises the concern of whether industrialized societies are consuming a balanced diet that takes into consideration appropriate numbers of calories as well as appropriate nutrients and adequate levels of exercise. Many practical questions regarding the design of diets to specifically improve brain function, such as type, frequency and amount of nutrients that constitute healthy brain food, remain to be answered, but we are beginning to uncover the basic principles that are involved in the actions of foods on the brain. Incorporating this knowledge into the design of novel treatments could be vital to combating mental diseases and neurological weaknesses.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:16 PM
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Many practical questions regarding the design of diets to specifically improve brain function, such as type, frequency and amount of nutrients that constitute healthy brain food, remain to be answered, but we are beginning to uncover the basic principles that are involved in the actions of foods on the brain.
This.
Science and medicine have a lot of catching up to do. Let's hope that Big Pharma doesn't get in the way.

I just read an article about fasting and diet in Harper's Magazine. Among other things, it discusses how the links between and diet and epilepsy were known on and off for many, many years, but quickly dismissed when the use of pharmaceuticals became widespread.
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Old 02-29-2012, 11:50 PM
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That is interesting, I hadn't thought about what people considered prior to the handful of drugs that are used now. I have not read any history on the subject. It will be a hard fight, but I personally know how strong the gut / brain connection is.
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Old 03-03-2012, 02:07 AM
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I thought this was relevant


Though it needs more research, but still....
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A reader pointed me to a recent column from Tara Parker Pope, showing that not only does the brain use glycogen as a source of energy during exercise, but that it can "train" to store more glycogen when the body receives exercise training! Being a running addict as I am (and taking a grudging day off right now for the sake of my knees), I wanted to take a look.
Matsui et al. "Brain glycogen decreases during prolonged exercise" Journal of Physiology, 2011.
AND
Matsui et al. "Brain glycogen supercompensation following exhaustive exercise"Journal of Physiology, 2012.

Most of us know that during exercise, your muscles use up the readily available glucose (the preferred cellular fuel) in the bloodstream first. Then they move on to stored glycogen, stored to some extent in the muscle and with more stored in the liver. Glycogen can be broken down quickly to lactate and works fairly well as an alternate energy source. When you run out of glycogen stores, you hit physical exhaustion, where you just can't keep going. Athletes call it "hitting the wall" (running out of muscle glycogen) or "bonking" (running out of liver glycogen). Both of these are unpleasant. There are often tears.

Of course, this happens in your skeletal muscle, the muscles doing most of the moving. But what about your brain? It takes a lot of activity in your brain to do something as simple as running, there is a lot of coordinated firing to keep muscle coordination going, keep the legs moving, and any extra conversation with your running partner? Bonus. We used to think of the brain as being a glucose hog. It turns out it still is, but it also will utilize local stores of glycogen, produced by neuronal support cells in the brain known as astrocytes.

What the authors showed in their first paper was that, in the brain as in the muscle, working out to exhaustion will deplete glycogen stores in both places.
What you can see here are glucose (top left) and glycogen measures (all the rest) in either sedentary rats or rats that ran on a treadmill for 120 minutes (TWO HOURS of moderate speed running. I'm impressed). You can see that glycogen stores were well depleted in the muscle and the liver, and also depleted in various areas of the brain, especially the cortex, cerebellum, and hippocampus. It turns out that it has to be exhaustive exercise. 30-60 minutes of treadmill running isn't going to do it.

But that's just one long run, followed immediately after by the measurements. What if you let your rats recover and refuel?
What you can see here are the recovery curves for glycogen stores in the brain, liver, and muscle. You can see that the brain is indeed a greedy organ, recovering glycogen stores more speedily than the muscle or liver. In general, the brain fully recovered glycogen stores, even overcompensating a little, in 6 hours, while muscle followed behind at 24 hours to peak, and liver coming in last at 48 hours.

But what about if you put your rats in "training"? We know that when muscles are trained, they actually increase the amount of glycogen they can store, becoming more resistant to fatigue. What about the brain? The authors put the rats through a three week regimen of 60 min runs, 5 days a week, running about 20 m/min (that's 1.2 kilometers, or a little less than a mile, and considering the size of the rat, a pretty long jog). They then looked at glycogen stores.
While all the trained rats lost weight and fat compared to sedentary rats, they GAINED glycogen stores, in the muscle, and in the brain. The authors hypothesize that this long term overcompensation could be the brain and body's response to the increased energy demands associated with a long term exercise regiment. But the article in the NY Times (and other studies looking at glycogen demands and memory formation) goes further, speculating that this may lead to the increased cognitive function associated with exercise. I feel like we'd need another study to prove that, something that linked exercise with increased basal cognitive function as well as increased use of glycogen stores during that cognitive function, but it's a very interesting idea. In the meantime, think of your brain glycogen stores while you exercise. Your muscles aren't the only thing being trained.
http://scientopia.org/blogs/scicurio...y-of-glycogen/
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Last edited by epileric; 03-03-2012 at 02:30 AM.
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