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11.17.2022
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The brain and the central nervous system (CNS)

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The brain and the central nervous system

The brain and the central nervous system (CNS)

Our brain is like the conductor of an orchestra which is the human body. It is responsible for the overall coordination of all functions and processes within our system. The messages from the brain are carried back and forth to the nerves around our body by the spinal cord. Together, the brain and the spinal cord form the central nervous system (CNS).

The brain is highly sensitive to micro- and macro-nutrient deficiencies. So, it is crucial to provide the body with the necessary nutrients to maintain its proper health and function. If we want our brain to work correctly and keep us healthy and active, we must satisfy a number of the requirements of the nervous system, which include:

  • an adequate blood supply to ensure a constant flow of oxygen to the cells;
  • proper functioning of the detoxification system.

In this article, we will discuss

  • How vitamin and mineral deficiency affects our brain and CNS.
  • The worst foods for your brain and CNS.
  • The foods linked to better brainpower and healthy CNS.

Vitamin and mineral deficiency and our brain

  • A number of studies show that thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency leads to memory loss and neuronal cell death.

Research: Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and dementia
Thiamine deficiency in rats produces cognitive and memory deficits on spatial tasks that correlate with tissue loss in diencephalon, cortex and white matter

Vitamin B1 deficiency can affect children. It leads to a delay in speech development, dyslexia, coordination impairment, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Vitamin and mineral deficiency

The most important and severe manifestation of thiamine deficiency is called beriberi. It is characterized by a wide range of nonspecific symptoms and manifests as various abnormalities of the central nervous system and/or heart failure.

  • Severe pyridoxine (vitamin B6) deficiency is associated with neurological abnormalities such as epileptic seizures, irritability, and depression.
  • Biotin (vitamin B7) deficiency is associated with mood disorders as well as burning and tingling sensations in the extremities.
  • A severe niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency leads to several neuropsychiatric symptoms, including depression and memory impairment.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with irritability, memory loss, depression, and dementia.
Nata Gonchar

Holistic Nutritionist, founder
of the project WOW Bali

TOP-10 ingredients
for your health and
balanced meal plan
Nata Gonchar

Holistic Nutritionist, founder
of the project WOW Bali

As Hippocrates said, you are what you eat. The meaning of this phrase concerns every person, who takes care of his health. The food we eat has a big impact on our vital activity, state of health and quality of life.

Nowadays healthy diet is very popular and everyone knows that he should give up junk food. But not everyone knows what he must eat except for grain, vegetables and protein food.

It's essential to diversify your diet. Every bite of food should provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are necessary for good health.

So how can we have a proper nutrition plan?

We prepared a PDF-file to help you. It contains TOP-10 ingredients, which should be added to everyone's diet.

  • An iron deficiency that occurs at an early age, specifically during the formation of the nerve cells, is associated with cognitive impairment.
  • Low vitamin C levels are associated with depression, hypochondria, impaired memory, and mood swings.
  • Zinc deficiency increases adrenal hormone levels, decreases neuroplasticity, and disturbs the balance between the cells that send or block CNS’s messages. Zinc deficiency may lead to depression.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is associated with mood disorders and cognitive decline. 

Studies show that patients with vitamin D deficiency not only are at more risk of having depression, but their depressive episodes tend to be much longer and more severe than in patients without vitamin D deficiency.

Research: Vitamin D and Depression: The Evidence from an Indirect Clue to Treatment Strategy
Vitamin D status and its correlation to depression

The worst foods for your brain

Multiple studies show a link between our diet and brain health. In a nutshell — your eating habits influence the health and functions of your nervous system. Increasingly, a healthy diet is seen as one of the potential therapeutic strategies in treating various neurodegenerative diseases.

Research: The Role of Dietary Nutrients in Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
Nutrition and Central Nervous System
The Influence of Dietary Factors in Central Nervous System Plasticity and Injury Recovery

Epidemiological data and various experimental studies demonstrate that eating and metabolic disorders, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in old age.

Research: Higher risk of dementia in English older individuals who are overweight or obese
Obesity as a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease: Implication of Leptin and Glutamate
From obesity to Alzheimer’s disease through insulin resistance
Diabetes Mellitus and Parkinson’s Disease: Shared Pathophysiological Links and Possible Therapeutic Implications
Diabetes mellitus and Parkinson disease

A recent study on the relationship between nutrition and brain functions has demonstrated a significant and somewhat unexpected connection between the two.

The findings of the study show that the intestinal microflora has a very powerful effect on the well-being of our nervous system. Specifically, the microbial community living in the gut, also known as the intestinal microbiota, regulates the functioning of the brain.

Research: The gut-brain connection

Recent scientific work has shown that dysbacteriosis — a condition that disrupts the intestinal microflora and leads to an imbalance in the microbiota — may trigger neurodegenerative processes.

Research: Association of Gut Microbiome Dysbiosis with Neurodegeneration: Can Gut Microbe-Modifying Diet Prevent or Alleviate the Symptoms of Neurodegenerative Diseases?
Dysfunction of the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Neurodegenerative Disease: The Promise of Therapeutic Modulation With Prebiotics, Medicinal Herbs, Probiotics, and Synbiotics

Here we list some key foods that disrupt the microbial balance in the intestine and therefore negatively impact our nervous system.

Omega-6 fatty fatty acids

Overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids (PUFAs) activates inflammatory processes both in the body and in the brain. An excessive intake of omega-6 PUFAs coupled with an inadequate intake of omega-3 significantly impacts mood disorders and leads to anxiety and depression. 

Sources of omega-6 PUFAs:

  • sunflower oil;
  • corn oil;
  • safflower oil;
  • rapeseed oil;
  • walnut oil;
  • sesame oil.

Sesame oil

Refined carbs

Refined carbs are stripped of almost all fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Animal studies show that sugar consumption leads to an increase in opportunistic bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria. This, in turn, triggers inflammation in the digestive and nervous systems.

Research: Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health

Sources of refined carbs:

  • white whole-wheat flour;
  • white rice;
  • candy;
  • sweetened juices;
  • fructose syrup;
  • cakes;
  • cookies.

The foods linked to better brainpower

Fiber

Fiber is resistant to the enzymes of the intestine and pancreas, so it reaches the large intestine intact. In the large intestine, it is fermented by intestinal bacteria to form beneficial metabolites that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. The bloodstream carries the metabolites to the nerve cells, which is the key to a healthy metabolism.

Natural sources:

  • bulgur;
  • quinoa;
  • white and red beans;
  • chickpeas;
  • lentils;
  • green peas;
  • almonds;
  • hazelnuts;
  • broccoli;
  • pumpkins;
  • strawberries;
  • avocados;
  • blackberries;
  • raspberries;
  • apples;
  • blueberries.

Blueberries

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids support the health of the neuronal cell membrane and help to maintain healthy blood flow in the brain.

Natural sources of Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • salmon;
  • tuna;
  • herrings;
  • oysters;
  • anchovies.

Vitamins B9 and B12

Vitamins B9 and B12 support the functioning of the nervous system by reducing the levels of homocysteine — the amino acid that destroys the inner lining of brain vessels.

Natural sources of vitamin B9:

  • beans;
  • lentils;
  • basil;
  • walnuts;
  • oat bran;
  • broccoli.

Natural sources of vitamin B12:

  • liver;
  • beef kidneys;
  • beef;
  • oysters;
  • mussels;
  • salmon;
  • shrimps.

Shrimps

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is one of the most potent natural antioxidants. It neutralizes free radicals and prevents the deposition of heavy metals in the tissues.

Natural sources of Alpha-Lipoic Acid:

  • beef;
  • spinach;
  • beans;
  • egg yolks;
  • brussels sprouts;
  • tomatoes;
  • almonds;
  • hazelnuts.

Magnesium

This mineral is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in our body, and as such, it is vital to our health. In addition, it stops our nerve cells from getting overstimulated.

Natural sources of magnesium:

  • kelp;
  • almonds;
  • sesame seeds;
  • pecan nuts;
  • Brazil nuts;
  • seaweed;
  • hazelnuts;
  • pistachios.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an important amino acid. It is involved in protein synthesis and the production of serotonin. In addition, it plays an important role in protecting our nerve cells against damage.

Natural sources of tryptophan:

  • milk and dairy products;
  • turkey;
  • lamb meat;
  • chicken;
  • peas;
  • salmon.

The material is based on research: