Rationale for this article:

As any other organ, the brain is elaborated from substances present in the diet (sometimes exclusively, for vitamins, minerals, essential amino-acids and essential fatty acids, including omega- 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids). However, for long it was not fully accepted that food can have an influence on brain structure, and thus on its function, including cognitive and intellectuals. In fact, most micronutrients (vitamins and trace-elements) have been directly evaluated in the setting of cerebral functioning. For instance,
*To produce energy, the use of glucose by nervous tissue implies the presence of vitamin B1; this vitamin modulates cognitive performance, especially in the elderly.
*Vitamin B9 preserves brain during its development and memory during ageing.
*Vitamin B6 is likely to benefit in treating premenstrual depression. Vitamins B6 and B12, among others, are directly involved in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters. Vitamin B12 delays the onset of signs of dementia (and blood abnormalities), provided it is administered in a precise clinical timing window, before the onset of the first symptoms. Supplementation with cobalamin improves cerebral and cognitive functions in the elderly; it frequently improves the functioning of factors related to the frontal lobe, as well as the language function of those with cognitive disorders. Adolescents who have a borderline level of vitamin B12 develop signs of cognitive changes.

* In the brain, the nerve endings contain the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the human body (after the suprarenal glands). Vitamin D (or certain of its analogues) could be of interest in the prevention of various aspects of neurodegenerative or neuroimmune diseases.
*Among the various vitamin E components (tocopherols and tocotrienols), only alpha-tocopherol is actively uptaken by the brain and is directly involved in nervous membranes protection.
*Even vitamin K has been involved in nervous tissue biochemistry. Iron is necessary to ensure oxygenation and to produce energy in the cerebral parenchyma (via cytochrome oxidase), and for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and myelin; iron deficiency is found in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Iron concentrations in the umbilical artery are critical during the development of the foetus, and in relation with the IQ in the child; infantile anaemia with its associated iron deficiency is linked to perturbation of the development of cognitive functions.
Irondeficiency anaemia is common, particularly in women, and is associated, for instance, with apathy, depression and rapid fatigue when exercising.
Lithium importance, at least in psychiatry, is known for a long time.
*Magnesium plays important roles in all the major metabolisms: in oxidation-reduction and in ionic regulation, among others.
*Zinc participates among others in the perception of taste.
*An unbalanced copper metabolism homeostasis (due to dietary deficiency) could be linked to Alzheimer disease. The iodine provided by the thyroid hormone ensures the energy metabolism of the cerebral cells; the dietary reduction of iodine during pregnancy induces severe cerebral dysfunction, actually leading to cretinism. Among many mechanisms, manganese, copper, and zinc participate in enzymatic mechanisms that protect against free radicals, toxic derivatives of oxygen. More specifically, the full genetic potential of the child for physical growth ad mental development may be compromised due to deficiency (even subclinical) of micronutrients. Children and adolescents with poor nutritional status are exposed to alterations of mental and behavioural functions that can be corrected by dietary measures, but only to certain extend. Indeed, nutrient composition and meal pattern can exert either immediate or long-term effects, beneficial or adverse. Brain diseases during aging can also be due to failure for protective mechanism, due to dietary deficiencies, for instance in anti-oxidants and nutrients (trace elements, vitamins, non essential micronutrients such as polyphenols) related with protection against free radicals
Now, let’s talk food.

1) Whey:

I know that whey is not a common food in our parts, but I’d include it for those who can afford store-bought and packaged whey. Because it is naturally rich in L-tryptophan, not to mention a whole range of other healing amino acids and nutrients, whey is an excellent food for calming your nervous system naturally. Tryptophan has been shown to be a precursor for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter hormone that regulates endocrine, digestive, nervous system, and blood health. And since low levels of serotonin are linked to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, taking whey can help boost anabolic function.

Whey is also rich in L-glutamine, a non-essential amino acid that is the precursor to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a substance that helps regulate thenervous systemand promote calmness. So if you are not allergic to milk-based foods, taking a high-quality whey protein supplement such as Proventive, One World Whey, or Jay Robb is a great way to boost your overall nutritional intake and feed your body the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy, well-functioning nervous system.

2) Sweet potatoes, yams:

A complex carbohydrate food that contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins, sweet potatoes are another nutritionally-dense food that can helpcalmyour nerves, eliminate stress, and even lower your blood pressure. Similarly, yams contain an array of nutrient compounds that feed the glandular system and promote respiratory, urinary, and nervous system health. Slow it down though as tubers are high in carbohydrates which could lead to obessity when consumed excessively.

3) Bananas:

Many athletes eat bananas after a game or match because the fruit contains potassium, an electrolyte that helps the body stay hydrated. But bananas also contain magnesium, vitamin B6, and other nutrients that help boost production of digestion-enhancing mucous, as well as promote feelings of happiness and calm inside the body. Eating bananas also aids in the production ofserotonin and melatonin, two hormones that regulate mood and sleeping patterns, and promote muscle relaxation and stress relief.

4) Green, herbal tea:

Sometimes the best way to take the edge off is to have a nice cup of warm herbal or green tea. Green tea in particular contains an amino acid known as L-theanine that enhances mood by stimulating the production of alpha waves in the brain. L-theanine also helps reduce stress and promote relaxation naturally.

5) Dark chocolate,cacao;

Similar to whey, dark chocolate and cacao contain L-tryptophan, the neurotransmitter responsible for relaxing the brain. Dark chocolate and cacao also contain magnesium, a mineral widely recognized for its ability to calm the nervous system. Adding a little extra dark chocolate or raw cacao into your diet can help calm your nerves and promote restfulness.

“Chocolate contains a neurotransmitter known as anandamide that has the ability to alter dopamine levels in the brain, causing a sense of peace and relaxation.,” says Dr. Kristie Leong, M.D. “Chocolate is also rich in tryptophan, the precursor to the serotonin which appears to play a role in relieving stress and promoting a sense of calmness.”

7) Spinach:

In order for your brain and nervous system to function as they should, your body needs a high input of fat-soluble vitamins that contribute to the building up of the fatty layers that protect your nerves from damage. And one such vitamin is vitamin K, which you can get in high amounts by eating spinach. Spinach also helps regulate the production of hormones in the nervous system to improve mood, sleeping patterns, and the body’s response to physical activity and stress. Alpha-lipoic acid, a substance your body produces from other nutrients, can be obtained in supplement form and also is present in high levels in liver, spinach and broccoli.


One of the best nutrients to help in healing the nervous system are Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The nerves are protected by myelin sheaths, which, according to authors Artemis P. Simopoulos and Leslie G. Cleland in their book, “Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Ratio: The Scientific Evidence,” contain very high levels of fatty acids. Individuals deficient in these fatty acids may suffer nerve damage primarily because of degradation of the myelin sheaths.Omega-3 fatty acids also inhibits overactivity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates certain areas of the brain and can cause excessive buildup of cellular waste products.
High quality meats and Diary: Acetyl-l-carnitineis a supplement that is derived from plants and may help slow the aging of the brain. It also is known to increase memory and clarity of thought. It is also found in high quality meats and dairy; also can be taken as a supplement.
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