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Brain Food

By Andrew Loh


Baby brain development is affected greatly by a baby's nutrition intake. Children who are malnourished will resulted an inadequate brain growth that showing lower IQ, slower language and fine motor development. Before we talk about the kind of food that we need to 'feed' the brain. We probably want to ask ourselves, what is our brain made of?

The Building Block of the Brain

Our brain is primarily fat, 60% by dry weight! Few people realize how important fat is to a healthy brain. And DHA, the most plentiful fatty acid in the brain, is crucial to brain health, from infancy to old age.

DHA

Many parents today already heard about the brain food - DHA. If you have not, you may want to pay attention to this.

DHA is shorthand for docosahexaenoic acid. This omega-3 long chain fatty acid is the primary building block of the brain and retina of the eye. The brain is 60% fat, and DHA is the most abundant essential fatty acid (EFA) in the brain, comprising 25-35%. DHA is found in even greater concentrations - 50-60% - in the retina. DHA is critical for infant development. Compelling research links DHA to the rapid cerebral cortex and eye development that occurs during pregnancy and in the first few months after birth.

DHA passes through the placenta to the fetus during pregnancy, and to the nursing baby through breast milk. Optimal levels of DHA in the bloodstream of pregnant women and the breast milk of nursing mothers are crucial to babies. In fact, DHA's presence in breast milk may explain why breast-fed babies have demonstrable IQ advantages over babies fed formula without DHA. This is proved by the 21-year study by a research team at Brisbane's University of Queensland. They found that the breastfed children ended up with an intellectual advantage of eight IQ points. One of the explanation by Prof. Najman, the research team leader was "that omega fatty acids found in breast milk may be giving breastfed children an intellectual advantage."

Once we understood the important of DHA presence in breast milk, one must also realizes that the level of DHA vary widely from mother to mother. In fact, the DHA levels in the breast milk of American women rank among the lowest in the world. Why? Because the level of DHA in the breast milk is very much depending upon the food intake of the mother. To produce high level of DHA in the breast milk, the mothers should try to eat as much seafood as possible on the regular basis. And try to breast-feed their children if at all possible.

With the finding of the importance of DHA in brain development, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that DHA be included in infant formulas at levels comparable to those of mothers' milk. Today, you can find many infant formulas are fortified with DHA such as Frisogrow, Anmum Essential, Enfapro ... and many more! Just look for DHA next time when you are buying infant formula. 

In addition, you can find DHA packaged in liquid formula or softgel for older children and pregnant/breastfeeding mom. You can find these products in major pharmacies.

You can also ensure your children (and yourself) obtain DHA from the diets. The richest sources of DHA are red meats, animal organs, and eggs. Deep-water fish obtain their DHA from microalgae like salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout, halibut, tuna, sardines, mackerel or fish oil supplements for those whose fish intake is very low. You can also find DHA in plants like green leafy vegetables, soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil.

DMAE

DMAE normally found in small amounts in our brains, DMAE (dimetheyaminoethanol) has been shown to remarkably enhance improvement in learning, mental alertness and clarity of thinking. A study conducted by Dr. Carl Pfeiffer of Princeton, N.J. showed significant improvements in behavior, learning ability, and attention span with 108 boys and girls. Irritability was decreased, scholastic ability was improved and intelligence was actually elevated in some cases. With its ability to improve attention span, DMAE is also alleviates behavior problems and hyperactivity such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

DMAE is often given credit for having to elevate mood and improve memory and learning. People who have taken DMAE for a period of a few weeks often report an increase in physical energy and less of a need for sleep.

(Caution: DMAE may be ill advised for people subject to seizures according to some authorities. Although few side-effects have been reported, confusion, headache, drowsiness and muscle tension are possibilities.)

Occurring naturally in fish (sardines), you can also find DMAE in tablets/capsule form in major pharmacies. Why is DMAE important? Because, it also increases the levels of the neurotransmitter 'acetylcholine' in the brain. Next...

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC)

Acetyl L-Carnitine facilitates both the rerlease and synthesis of Acetylcholine. Acetylocholine' was the very first neurotransmitter to be identified back in the early 1900s. Acetylcholine is found in the brain and the peripheral nervous system and is an critical element in brain development and it proved to enhance spatial memory and mental focus. Choline is the usual pre-cursor of acetylocholine and choline influences levels of acetylcholine. Acetyl L-Carnitine helps to improve deteriotating memory and appears to function as a powerful antioxidant within the brain, stabilizing cell membranes and improving energy production within brain cells.

Brahmi

Brahmi, also known as bacopin, bacopa monnieri or Indian Pennywort, is a type of herb that grows in Asia and Australia. Studies revealed at prestigious World Neurological Conferences, show that Brahmi is an effective 'brain food' as it nourishes the brain and improves intelligence and memory. Brahmi is popular especially among students as it enhances the minds ability to learn and focus under stressful conditions. Other studies have shown that Brahmi has a calming effect and has since become the herb of choice for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) children. Moreover, Brahmi is also recommended for middle age people who find their memory starts to fade.

In short, the benefit of Brahmi including improves learning and mental performance while helps to relieve the stress of a learning or study environment.

Ginkgo biloba

The last food for brain in this article (there are many others, make sure you follow the ezine subscription instruction below to receive more information in the future) is Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba is the oldest species of tree native to China. Extracts from the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree has been used medicinally for centuries. Studies showed that ginkgo works by increasing blood flow throughout the body and brain. Especially, ginkgo biloba improves circulation and oxygen supply to the brain. Thereby improves mental alertness by increasing the brain's alpha wave rhythms and overall brain functioning.

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be used as information only. As always, please consult the appropriate professionals for more information.



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