With the popularization of the concept of health care, more and more people are using health foods to nourish their brains and prevent cognitive decline in the brain. However, there are hundreds of brain-tonifying foods on the market. Can fish oil, ginkgo and other foods really nourish the brain? Hanning has been engaged in clinical brain science research for many years and has a PhD in neurobiology. In the book “Breaking Brain Pseudoscience”, Henning Beck identifies what is “fake brain science” and leads readers to explore the mysteries of the brain. The following is an excerpt from the original book:
The more you eat brain supplements, the smarter you become?
Are you used to going to the supermarket once or twice a week to buy the food you need for the whole week? This is nice because you don’t have to buy groceries every day, and there’s usually enough food in the fridge for you. But the brain doesn’t do that. You’d better imagine it to be the refrigerator of a male engineering student: it’s empty, no food is stored in it, and it’s usually bought and eaten immediately.
The brain is probably like this, you can eat it as soon as you bring it. It takes the nutrients it needs immediately and directly from the blood. This has a huge advantage – no storage space is required. But on the other hand, this also means that it relies heavily on smooth logistics, and all necessary nutrients must be obtained in time and in sufficient supply. Therefore, the human body’s nutritional supply has a very clear principle: no matter what happens, the brain is always the first priority.
Helper cells (astrocytes), their job is to provide nutrients to nerve cells.Astrocytes have special transport molecules that snatch important nutrients (not just sugars, but also amino acids) from the blood before other organs are aware of it. Just like those who rush to the first place in the seasonal auction, they can always grab the best ones first. This is how the brain retains the proper nutrients.
This principle is very important because it protects the brain from nutritional deficiencies. In a way, the brain is a “vampire of organs,” sucking nutrients from all other body parts before starving itself. If not, early humans might have retained their muscles even when food was extremely scarce.
But what’s the point of showing off your six-pack muscles if your brain can’t function due to lack of nutrition? It’s of no use! However, if you go to a fitness center casually, you may wonder in your mind whether the energy in some people’s bodies is used up by muscles first… This principle of nutritional intake also tells us that if a person eats a balanced diet, his brain will be almost Malnutrition is impossible. Because it grabs all the nutrients it needs before other organs.So basically, we don’t need any brain supplements to upgrade the brain, because a malnourished brain is almost non-existent in adults.
Even if you don’t have to worry about insufficient brain nutrition, maybe eating more healthy foods can improve brain function? Regarding this, we must also know that not all the nutrients we eat enter our brains. Protected by the blood-brain barrier, the brain is like a heavily guarded, highly secure area.
The blood-brain barrier is also made of astrocytes, which form a protective barrier around blood vessels and determine who can enter the brain and who cannot. Like the bouncers in a fancy nightclub, they only allow certain molecules through; and here, as in real life: the unimportant and the aggressive are not welcome – so sugars and amino acids must pass before they are allowed to enter neural tissue. Be carefully inspected. Those slippery fats slide easily past the (also oily) protective layer. This is also the reason why all drug molecules are fat-soluble. In just 30 seconds, the entire brain is filled with drug molecules.
The influence of the blood-brain barrier is often underestimated, and its existence may explain why many nutrition myths about the brain are unlikely to be true.Does eating chocolate make you feel better because it is said to contain serotonin, a happy neurotransmitter? Otherwise, neither serotonin nor other serotonin precursors can enter the brain casually.
It is said that eating Chinese food can cause headaches because it is seasoned with MSG? wrong! Especially glutamic acid (Glutamat, commonly known as MSG), this important neurotransmitter is strictly controlled by the blood-brain barrier. Eating too much meat makes you tired because it contains tryptophan? This is also nonsense – people will feel sleepy as long as they are full, no matter what they eat.
In addition, even if effective nutrients do enter the brain, they must first reach the place where they can produce effects. This is called pharmacokinetics (Pharmakokinetiks) – it sounds complicated, but it actually means that being in the right place at the right time determines the effect that this substance can exert. Take toothpaste as an example. It is only useful if you use it to brush your teeth. It is not suitable for applying on your feet as a foot cream.
If you eat blueberries that contain a lot of “organic active anthocyanins” (which are said to be good for the brain), the anthocyanins must first reach the place where they can have an effect – the nerve cells. This is not easy! So please remember that desperately replenishing nutrients for the body does not guarantee that the brain can also absorb them. The brain takes the initiative to take in what it needs (stealing it from elsewhere when necessary); at the same time, it also strictly controls the substances that enter.
Therefore, it is very difficult to deliberately eat high-end brain-supplementing foods to promote brain metabolism, because the brain is usually already well-nourished.
Don’t make yourself stupider as you eat more
Of course, the brain relies on important nutrients and is sensitive to inappropriate foods. It requires unsaturated fatty acids to build nerve cell membranes and the insulation around nerve fibers.There are some amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own and must be supplied from outside, so protein is very important. Minerals and a few vitamins in water are also essential, allowing the brain to function properly. The body can produce its own sugar when necessary (as long as there is an adequate supply of protein).
However, if you want to eat important nutrients to replenish your brain based on the reason “Since amino acids are important for the formation of neurotransmitters, then the more the better!”, there is actually no point in eating important nutrients. Some people eat bananas because they contain a lot of tryptophan, which can strengthen brain function.
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Tryptophan, of course, is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter important in emotion processing and sensory perception. But what happens after you eat a bunch of tryptophan? Are you in a good mood or seeing colorful images? Neither. Because the brain won’t allow too much tryptophan to enter. So you can provide your brain with as much brain food as you want, but it will only pick out what is most needed at the moment. It’s about cooking according to a recipe, not about what ingredients are provided by others. Because for the brain, it must maintain stable and good operation without being affected by fluctuations in food supply.
It is true that the brain strictly controls the nutrients it absorbs and protects itself from external influences, but it does not mean that no substances can affect the performance of the brain. Drugs and psychoactive substances such as caffeine are enough to prove this. Therefore, neuroscientists are actively studying various nutrients that may affect brain function. However, this is very difficult because, especially in diet, there are many factors that have an impact.
There are hundreds of different substances in a pot of ginkgo tea that may act in different ways. Perhaps the interaction of different substances has a positive impact on the brain (this is currently being studied in particular)? As a result, there is much speculation in the scientific literature on “brain and nutrition” and often recommendations for further research. However, everyone currently believes that there are two types of substances that have a positive effect on the brain.
In addition, these fat molecules can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain.Taking high doses of fish oil (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) for more than 6 months seems to really improve the network connections of nerve cells, but no one has yet been able to prove that eating it will make you smarter. There are increasing signs that Omega-3 fatty acids can not only slow down brain aging, but also promote the growth of hippocampal nerve cells.
However, whether it can have such an effect is because the effect of fish oil is limited to the cell membrane, or whether it also promotes the release of growth factors is still very controversial.
Another type of nutrients that are considered to promote brain function are polyphenols, including flavonoids found in cocoa, anthocyanins in blueberries, and curcumin in curry. Or quercetin (Quercetin) in ginkgo leaves, and resveratrol (Resveratrol) in red wine, etc. No one knows how polyphenols work, or if they work at all. Some believe they can increase blood circulation in the brain or stimulate the production of growth factors.
Brain scientists are studying the effects of all these substances, especially chocolate, presumably because they are easy for subjects to find. Why does chocolate make us feel good? It’s unlikely that chocolate contains serotonin, but flavonoids may be the cause. After the subjects drank a chocolate drink that was particularly rich in flavonoids for a month, they appeared calmer and calmer than a control group who drank chocolate drinks without flavonoids. But their intelligence did not increase.
However, if you wanted to consume the same amount of flavonoids as in this experiment, you would have to eat about 3 kilograms of milk chocolate every day. If you still feel in a good mood after one month, the scale will let you know. Scientists are currently particularly interested in studying the effects of polyphenols on the brain. The problem is that we often use animal models to do research – a mouse fed blueberry anthocyanins can run out of a maze in a shorter time, what can it tell us? Does that mean I can save money on a sat-nav and buy a bunch of blueberries? Brain research will surely find a way out soon.
Likewise, the popular ginkgo extract is apparently overrated. Ginkgo did not appear to slow the progression of dementia or improve intellectual performance in healthy subjects. As for whether there is any point in taking ginkgo pills, I’ll let you answer it yourself. Further research is needed before its effectiveness is truly understood.
All in all, food is not medicine. You can take high doses of fish oil and drink ginkgo tea if you like, but you won’t automatically become smarter.
(This article is excerpted from/Breaking the Pseudo-Science of the Brain (Second Edition): The right brain is not more creative than the left brain, and boys have no better sense of direction than girls./if published)
This article is reproduced with permission from “Youhuo Health Network”, the original text isCan Ginkgo Slow Dementia? Fish oil can make you smarter?Experts reveal the truth about “brain supplements”, don’t be scared
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