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What you eat affects your brain—experts

By Tessa Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:16:00 02/19/2010

Filed Under: Food and Diet and Nutrition, Health

MANILA, Philippines--If you are what you eat, then it necessarily follows that your brain is what you eat, as well. The kinds of food we consume play a significant role in our thought processes and emotions. Indeed, the frontal lobe, the seat of decision-making, is swayed by our palates.

Nutritional and medical experts now offer food for thought?foods your brain would actually benefit from.

?Takip kohol?

Former health secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan reveals, ?I eat takip kohol or Centella asiatica L. The World Health Organization says it is neuroprotective and considered anti-dementia and anti-Alzheimers. I place seven fresh leaves of takip kohol in my salad or my sandwiches.?

Galvez-Tan, whose diet is mostly plant-based, adds that the medicinal takip kohol is a wild vegetable widely found in all corners of the country.

?Luyang dilaw?

Tan?s other ?brain food? is luyang dilaw (turmeric or Curcuma longa L.) taken as fresh tea or the powder of which is integrated into soup and other dishes.

He also recommends drinking coffee, but only up to three to five mg per kg of body weight (no more than three cups a day) for average-sized Filipinos.

VCO, niacin, wheat germ

Dr. Omar Arabia, a nutritionally oriented medical doctor, has been a vegetarian and taking wheat germ for more than 30 years. Wheat germ is high in Vitamin E (tocopherol), which he says is good for the brain.

?With virgin coconut oil and a high dose of B3 (50 mg of niacin) you?ll definitely feel the push,? Arabia says.

He attests the combination of VCO, niacin and wheat germ as ?comprehensive team play? for the brain, with a diet that includes seeds and sprouts as the ?supporting cast.?

Arabia is quick to add that cellular nutrition (at the level of the mitrochondria?the energy factories of the cells) does not only mean eating the right foods but taking adequate rest and sleep as well.

Ginkgo biloba

Ruth Winters, MS, the author of ?A Consumer?s Guide to Medicines in Food,? wrote that Ginkgo has been reported to improve circulation, mental functioning, and help stop tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears), and to alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer?s disease (a circulatory problem), arthritis, hardening of the arteries, dizziness and anxiety. The leaves and nuts of Ginkgo biloba?also called maidenhair?have been used in ancient Chinese remedies.

The ?ABCE? vitamins

In various researches on Down Syndrome, Vitamins A and C have shown much potential.

The B vitamins (B12, 6, 1, 2, and folic acid) are appropriately called ?brain boosters.?

Mentally superior diet

Doctors Neil Nedley and David de Rose, in ?Proof Positive,? strongly encourage the consumption of grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, as the most healthful and nourishing for both body and brain.

This group of foods, they write, ?imparts the strength, endurance, and vigor of intellect not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.?

Meat, sugar, diminishing intelligence

All that cholesterol from the burgers and pork chops you?ve been eating may not only clog up your heart. It can addle the brain, too.

?Eating much meat will diminish intellectual activity. Students will accomplish much more in their studies if they never tasted meat. When the animal part of the human nature is strengthened by meat-eating, the intellectual power diminishes proportionately,? wrote Nedley and De Rose. Nedley also noted that a vegetarian diet for pregnant women would also benefit fetal brain development. Perhaps, consulting nutritionally oriented doctors can help you decide.

Large amounts of sugar in the diet have been demonstrated to impair frontal lobe functions in schoolchildren.

Arabia debunks the claims of some doctors that there are ?so-called beneficial effects of bulalo (bone marrow broth) for the brain.?

?Bulalo has lots of chemicals and its DNA nature is not considered as whole food,? he counters.

Dr. Romy de Villa, a nutritional oncologist who is also into a mostly plant-based diet, says the brain is generally made of good fats omega-3, lecithin and other phospholipids. Good sources of these fats include full cream powdered milk from grass-fed cows.

He also cites steamed or boiled fish (small ones with scales) from the sea, and krill, which has phospholipids where the omega 3 is in the position best for the brain and nervous system.

Brain-y exercises

Nedley and De Rose, in ?Proof Positive,? suggest activities that strengthened the mind include playing bridge and solving crossword puzzles. On the other, they point to watching television and playing bingo as ?mind killers.?

They pointed to studies showing watching TV as increasing daydreaming, fostering nonpractical fantasies that children, and even adults, are tempted to ?live in,? while at the same time decreasing an individual?s creative ingenuity or imagination.

They also urge individuals to eat in moderation. Eating too much ?destroys the healthy action of the digestive organs, affects the brain, and perverts the judgment and prevents rational, calm, healthy thinking and acting.?



Copyright 2014 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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