Supporting and optimizing growth, development and maintenance of neural tissue is essential for healthy brain function throughout all stages of life. In order for optimal brain function it is necessary to:
- provide basic amino acid building blocks for brain structure and function
- ensure the integrity and structure of neural cell membranes and neuronal function
- provide nutrients for cellular processes, such as mitochondrial function and methylation
- provide nutritional support to promote the formation of neurotransmitters and second messengers
- protect cells from oxidative stress
Protein for Amino Acids
The brain needs amino acids for the production of enzymes, proteins, peptides and neurotransmitters. Conversely, protein deficiency can greatly alter the formation and functioning of the brain in young children and teenagers. (3)
Chronic protein malnutrition in childhood has been shown to result in not only cognitive impairment but affects the continuing brain development. (4) This includes decreases in verbal and visual memory functions. (5) Protein malnutrition in infancy has also been linked to the development of mood disorders in adolescence. (6)
Impaired cognitive ability due to traumatic brain injury is thought to be due to changes in neurotransmittor functions. Providing nutrients essential for the balanced production of neurotransmitters, proper synaptic function can be restored and cognitive performance improved. (8)
Fats for Brain Health
Nerve cell membranes consist of a double layer of fats which functions to protect cell components from the outside environment, accumulate beneficial nutrients, conduct electrical impulses and also contain receptor sites for neurotransmitters. Without optimally functioning cell membranes all aspects of neural cell function will be adversely affected.
Nutrients for Cell Functioning
Brain energy supply and mitochondrial activity are imperative for normal neuronal function and neuroplasticity. Mitochondrial insufficiency contributes to the development of many brain disorders. During adolescence this includes developmental learning and behavioural disorders, and in the mature brain mitochondrial insufficiency may contribute to neurodegenerative disorders. (8)
Protect cells from Oxidative Stress
Oxidative free radical damage is generally viewed as a main cause of brain degeneration, age related cognitive decline, (9) and may play a progressive role in behaviour disorders in children. Oxidative damage to fats has been linked to reduction of cell membrane integrity and increased permeability, including that of mitochondrial membranes. Oxidative damage to DNA may result in changes in gene expression. (13)
Oxidative stress, as well as emotional stress, affects the central nervous system and plays a vital role in homeostasis, participating in the aetiology of neurodegenerative diseases.
Ensuring adequate nutritional support throughout life can help to protect and support cell membrane structure and function in the nervous system, optimizing brain and neural health, and supporting healthy, normal cognition and memory.
Book in for your health assessment today and feed your brain – call 07 5530 1863 now.