The brain
Your brain. And in some ways a no-brainer that this organ serves an important function during a brain-expanding learning year.

So let’s optimise it using food, knowledge of nutrients and what’s available in this season.

Having a mentor for this knowledge while at School, Uni or TAFE can save you lots of anxiety and grey hairs – yes mine started to turn grey while at Melbourne University when I was only 22.

And now I know why – late nights socialising, obscene quantities of hamburgers/takeaways per week and nutrient deprived boiled/fried food from the local cafeteria.

Your brain needs ENERGY. Most of us supply it with glucose that becomes available after the digesting a meal containing fats, carbohydrates and protein. This glucose is converted to usable energy for your brain cells to perform exquisite complex tasks and make new connections and allow us to remember stuff.

Pixabay 2016 - Girl Reading

Pixabay 2016 – Girl Reading

The glucose fuel is fed to your brain via a finely balanced metabolic tightrope act that is mostly orchestrated by your liver and pancreatic cells that produce insulin.

However, many of us can experience an “energy lull” after eating refined sugar – cakes, biscuits pastries, chips, etc. An energy lull can occur due to a “roller coaster effect” of rising and falling sugar levels in your blood – and hence your brain – that the dynamic duo of liver/pancreas has trouble keeping in check.

You don’t want this. Energy is best supplied to your brain as a constant slow drip. This is achieved by eating a meal that is rich in protein, quality fats and complex fibre rich carbohydrates. Details revealed over the coming sessions. Reaching for a quick sugar fix when you feel low in energy will only buy you a ticket for the roller coaster.

BTW (by the way), the brain can also use fat as a power source via fat breakdown molecules called ketone bodies. However, you have to limit carbohydrate intake to about 50 grams per day or less and eat lots of quality fat and about 20% protein (like the indigenous Eskimos). This type of eating also forms the basis of a “ketogenic diet” used the in medicine to treat epilepsy, obesity and other chronic conditions. Don’t try this at home, however, without professional supervision.

Pixabay 2016 - Energy Drink

Pixabay 2016 – Energy Drink

Your brain needs PROTEIN. Why? To build new physical neuronal connections and make those connections do something – enter neurotransmitters. Think of these as the emails we send, the posts you post on Facebook or the words you use to order a coffee at the local Gold Fish Bowl Cafe. Communication. Via little chemical messengers.

The protein we eat, whether it comes from animal or plant sources, is broken down by acid in your stomach (ant-acid medications will inhibit this) and then downstream by enzymes in our amazing gut (compromised if we have any gastrointestinal disturbances like farting, bloating, diarrhoea, etc.) The result is Amino Acids.

These little building blocks of life go to make, amongst many other things, our neurotransmitters.

Interesting stuff. Thus, the health of our gut and liver indirectly affects brain function.

Next, let’s look at keeping these two organs rapturous in their duties and the vitamins and minerals – and fats – needed to allow our brain cells to communicate and expand.

BTW, when using the brain for new or advanced activities – like writing – new neuronal connections WILL be made. There may initially be some discomfort with this – just like the pain felt at a first gym session – but hang in there – its gets better.