Your Brain and Food

How you eat and what you eat can affect your mood as well as your ability to think.

Check out my TODAY show segment on the topic.
For some people, eating more than several hours apart causes a fluctuating sugar level in the blood and brain.  Significant dips in blood glucose can cause physical symptoms such as tremulousness, racing heart, weakness and fatigue. Some of these symptoms will be interpreted in your brain as anxiety, others as low mood overall.  When you feel lousy it makes you irritable. So, for those people who do have sugar shifts it is helpful to eat to maintain a stable level in order to maintain even mood. Similarly dehydration can make you feel weak, tired, shaky and can even interfere with cognition. This is particularly an issue for older people who are more likely to get dehydrated in these summer months, not realize it and make not only their mood, but also their thinking worse. A little dementia can be much worse with dehydration.

There is research to support that a deficiency in Omega 3 fatty acids correlates with depression. Omega 3 fatty acids may help as an adjunct to other treatments for mild to moderate depression and may also help for depression in kids, but only under the supervision of a professional. There is not conclusive data that Omega 3 fatty acids help with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The jury is out on ADD in kids, but some data suggests it may help their symptoms in the classroom. There also may be, though it's inconclusive, a role for fatty acids in improving cognition. The reasoning has to do with the fact that omega 3 fatty acids are needed to maintain neuroplasticity (how brain cells are recruited from a generic brain cell to be used for a more specific purpose.)

Folate, also known as vitamin B6 has been studied for its role in cognitive thinking. It has been found that a folate deficiency can cause dementia or cognitive problems, hence it's important to take in enough to not be lacking. However, there is no evidence that taking extra folate will help with either dementia or mood.

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