Brain and Nutrition

Maryam ziaei
3 min readMar 6, 2021

None of the brain health recommendations are complete without considering the nutrition and food we consume. As I mentioned at the beginning of talking about brain health, the brain is like a luxury car. It needs premium fuel and part of this fuel is coming from our food. If we digest premium fuel, our brain will function well, we will have better memory, social relationships will improve, our concentration and attention improve too!

There is a link between our brain and our gut so that our food impacts our brain health through the release of hormones and peptides that will ultimately impact our memory, learning, and our mood. The ingestion of foods triggers the release of insulin, for instance, which can then reach centers such as the hypothalamus and the hippocampus and activate pathways that promote synaptic activity and contribute to learning and memory.

Ninety-five percent of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps with the regulation of sleep and mood, is produced in our gastrointestinal tract, a tract that covers our mouth to our gut.

Our gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of our digestive system don’t just help us digest food, but also guide our emotions.

What to do?

what are the categories of food that are good for us?

  1. Eat more fruit and vegetables, a variety of colors

2. Limit consumption of trans fat (found in processed food), lower consumption of saturated fat (found in red meat), and increase consumption of unsaturated fat (found in olive and avocado oil, nuts, and flax seeds).

3. Our body needs protein to maintain muscle mass especially when we get to older ages. Aim for fish and eggs that are high in protein and vegetarian sources of protein that contain more fiber too.

4. Carbohydrate is also essential for energy but when it is consumed in a large amount that our body doesn’t need, it will be stored as fat and could cause obesity over time. Whole-grain carbohydrates that have a significant amount of fiber are great options to consider; brown rice, rolled oat, quinoa, to name a few.

5. Avoid sugar as much as possible. Sugar causes inflammation, and consumption of sugar causes a burst of insulin from your pancreas which in turn triggers tryptophan (amino acid precursor to serotonin in the brain) and your brain likes it and feels more relax. Then it craves and wants more of it.

Intermittent fasting is also a method that helps with the rejuvenation of the brain and body and helps our brain to fight toxins. 16 hours fasting has shown to be very effective in the rejuvenation and aging well process. Combine it with your sleep time, from 7 pm to 11 am the next day would give you 16 hours of fasting, in which around 8–9 hours you are asleep. Start with one or two days a week and make that a habit in your week.

Aim to cook at home as much as possible, home-cooked food is healthier and more economical. You can make a family activity with cooking and freeze them as batches for when you need them.

In the online program, we cover details of nutrition and its importance in our brain health at NeuroAcer.com

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Maryam ziaei

I'm a neuroscientist, a mum, and a mental health advocate. I inspire to help people get through difficult stages of their lives.