Nutrition affects not only the condition of our bodies, but also, and perhaps more importantly, our minds. The food we eat keeps our bodies in good shape and working efficiently. It provides energy, strengthens our immune system and improves our minds. Although many people shun fat and meat, it has been established that they are of great importance to the brain; and this fact must be carefully considered.
There are still many misconceptions about nutrition, e.g., vitamins help to lose weight; enzymes burn fat; weight gain is due to fatty foods, so diet foods are the solution; obesity is connected only to food, and so on. Instead of relying on oversimplified generalizations, it is important to devise a moderate diet from all food groups, including proteins and animal products, because they remove toxins from the intestines and supply the body with natural vitamins and minerals. It is good to eat in small amounts, but often – perhaps four to five times a day – since this way of eating reduces the chance of plaque production in the blood and prevents it from storing it in the internal organs and arteries. It is established that most physical ailments, especially the leading cause of death – the heart attack – are caused by improper nutrition.
One of the first dietitians, William Banting, wrote as long ago as the mid-19th century, “among all maladies which concern the human race, I know none nor can I imagine anything worse than obesity.” According to Dutch medical specialists, people who gain a significant amount of weight after the age of 35-40, shorten their lives by approximately seven years. Also, “if a 40-year old woman smokes and is overweight, she will live, on average, 13.3 years less than a non-smoking woman of standard weight.” When we speak of proper nutrition, it is imperative that we associate it with long life. Quality of life in old age is not about turning back the clock to maintain an artificial extension or replay of youth, but rather, to increase longevity and make life healthier, happier and more fulfilling within the limitations of age. It is no coincidence that the Japanese boast the best nutrition among their population, and their average lifespan is 82.5 years for women and 76.2 years for men.
Suitable combinations of carbohydrates, proteins and fat directly affect brain activity, and consequently, influence our intellectual abilities. Carbohydrates feed the brain, proteins slow down the carbohydrate absorption rate, and fat aids in the production of the hormones that make us happy and also assists in balancing the nutritive chemicals in the blood stream. In addition to the main food categories, trace amounts of specific elements and minerals can have a profound influence on health. For example, the selenium contained in dairy products alleviates stress and is a very good defense against aging. Is it possible to become happier through proper nutrition? Most definitely the answer is “Yes!” The human brain is composed of and maintained by a certain number of building blocks, supplied through nutrition. The brain requires fat, amino acids and proteins to sustain its solid structure. When these substances are missing or insufficient, the brain loses functional efficiency, which in turn causes accelerated aging.
Do not avoid fat altogether for fear it may clog arteries. On the contrary, certain fats, such as those found in olive or sunflower oil, cod-liver oil, almonds, peanuts and walnuts are valuable and essential. It is these fats that structure the nerve cells in the brain. The limiting of fat should be closely monitored, so that it does not damage brain function.
Proteins are also of significant importance. Enzymes, which allow cells to receive messages, and some neuro-meridians, are actually proteins in different proportions composed of amino acids in the food. The conclusion is that the brain needs proteins to stimulate proper activity. Meat, eggs and dairy products supply the required animal proteins to the human body. It has been proven that a lack of Vitamin B-9 is the chief contributor to memory loss during the aging process, and that the liver supports and strengthens the memory. Vitamin B-9 is contained in whole grains, egg yolks, beans, walnuts and spinach. If we add Vitamins B-6 and B-12, contained in fish and meat, we create a healthy blend that guarantees us optimum memory strength. The ancient Roman physician Galen recommended walnuts for stimulating brain activity. His suggestion was based on the ancient theory that body organs should be treated with foods that resemble them, and the walnut, with its convoluted surface, does indeed resemble the folds of the human brain. Although that superficial theory is obviously superceded by the biochemistry of metabolism, modern medicine confirms that walnuts stimulate intellectual ability, help prevent tumors and heart disease, and lower bad cholesterol. That’s why it is important to consume no less than one ounce of walnuts per day, at least three times a week. Vitamin E, which is just one valuable constituent of olives, walnuts as well as other foods, protects the biological membranes from aging.
Broccoli, peppers, cabbage, lemons, oranges and other products containing Vitamin C have a direct influence on the blood circulation in the brain. And in order to prevent the reduction of red blood cells, which supply oxygen to the brain, we need to include iron-rich foods in our diet. Dr. Jill Halterman’s research at the University of Rochester demonstrated that students with low amounts of iron in their blood scored lower on tests. Additional research showed lower IQ scores among young, vegetarian girls, in contrast with girls of the same age who enjoyed a balanced diet.
The bread/pasta food group, particularly whole-grain and multi-grain, is perfect fuel for the brain, and the lack of rice, lentil and glucose causes hypoglycemia and dulls brain function. Carbohydrates are the best energy source for our body, since they digest slowly, are absorbed into our system in small amounts, and feed the brain longer.
We’ve all been taught since grade school that water is of extreme importance to the human body; we may be able to live without food for two to three weeks, but no more than three days without water. Indeed, water represents 70 percent of a human’s body mass. Every one of us loses around half a gallon of water daily, an amount that needs to be replenished. Some of the water we receive through the food we eat, but the majority simply has to be drunk. If this does not happen, the result is dehydration and cellulite, including aging. Besides pure, uncontaminated water, fruit juices and teas are not only useful, but necessary as well. According to Russian scientist Vladimir Volkov, “the decrease of water in the body blocks the bio-filters and causes different pathologies and subsequently aging.” We cannot disagree with the fact that rational and proper nutrition will improve our health, make us more joyful, smarter and prettier, extend our lifespan, and ultimately, stimulate our inner being and help us achieve absolute happiness.