ScienceDaily published a recent article discussing a nutritional study from Nature ReviewsNeuroscience, Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. This study was focused on how food and exercise affects the brain, going so far as to say they can stave off mental disorders.
According to the study, UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, has spent years studying the affects that food, exercise and sleep have on the brain. Considering how we tend to feel after eating too much, sleeping too little or falling out of shape, Gomez-Pinilla’s interest in this makes sense.
He found that omega-3 fatty acids helped to improve memory, learning and protected against depression, mood disorders and even dementia. While you can find omega-3 in pill form, the scientists state that you will receive more benefits from actual food that contains this valuable nutrient. Some of these foods include flax seed, salmon, walnuts and squash.
Omega-3 fatty acids help with the plasticity of your synapses – and considering the damage that is done to these vital parts of the brain by a TBI, this study may be worth paying attention to. We’ve already discussed how a brain injury often worsens with time and can lead to dementia, but with active preventative measures such as an improved diet and increased exercise, you may be able to help prevent or stall this deterioration.
Gomex-Pinilla said that “The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet.” The DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid, and is in foods such as salmon.
An interesting addition to this is the suggestion that a lower calorie diet may also help with the brain’s overall health. Too many calories can increase cell vulnerability to free radical damage and also decrease the flexibility of your synapses, leading to memory and learning problems.
Another especially beneficial supplement is folic acid. It has been proven to help with the effects of antidepressants and to prevent the mental decline that comes with aging. If it helps with aging…perhaps it will benefit a damaged brain?
Our lesson from this study seems to be smaller portions with higher nutrient values. Not always the easiest shift to make in our fast food oriented society, but one worth making if you value your mental health!