Brain Nutrition

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Brain Nutrition

Postby theRobotpimp » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:45 pm

*I want to preface this post by clearly stating that I AM NOT A NUTRITIONIST. I am simply a law student who, interested in having a better understanding of the effects of good nutrition on the brain, researched and gathered information on my own. My results are posted below. Speak to a licensed nutritionist if you intend to make changes to your own diet.

How can brain nutrition impact academic performance? Just like athletes need good nutrition to compete at their best, the wrong kinds of foods can have an adverse effect on energy and brain performance. For example, have you ever stuffed yourself full of fast food at lunch and then had a hard time staying focused or even awake in the afternoon? This is exactly what I’m talking about.

So what kinds of foods can help you stay energetic, sharp and focused during law school? There are several things that are necessary to maintaining a healthy brain: antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, omega-3s, proteins, vitamin B, and water.

1. Antioxidants
What do they do: Antioxidants help combat “free radical oxidants” in the brain that can damage cells. Free radicals are the natural byproduct of energy producing biochemical reactions in human cells. As stated before these byproducts are natural, but if created in excess they can damage cells and even impact cognitive and visual functions. For a visual understanding, picture the way rust (cell damage) forms on metal (your brain). Also, a major cause of excessive free radicals is high levels of stress (1).
Foods: Blueberries, dark red grapes, cranberries, gala apples, green tea (2). In a recent study at Japan’s Tohoku University, researchers found that elderly subjects who drank at least 1 cup of green tea a day “had a 38 lower risk of declines in brain function” (3).

2. Complex carbohydrates
What do they do: Complex carbohydrates give the brain energy to function. The brain utilizes “20 percent of the body's carbohydrate supply” so it’s important to keep yourself well stocked. Carbohydrates provide sugar to the brain, but you want to avoid negative sugars like “glucose, dextrose, and sucrose.” Complex carbohydrates consist of “starches”, which provide long-term energy as opposed to the short term release (followed by a crash) you get from soda (4). During long days spent going to class and studying, you will benefit greatly from these continuous sources of energy.
Foods: Beans, whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, pasta.

3. Omega-3 (DHA)
What do they do: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the grey matter of the brain and support synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity is important because much learning and memory function occurs in the synapses (5). DHA also has a positive impact on visual function and it “has been associated with a decreased risk of mental decline associated with aging” (6). You may think that you are consuming enough Omega-3’s in your meals, but “the average diet is horribly deficient in omega-3 rich foods” (7). Omega-3’s are an undervalued nutrient for the brain and many people are unaware of their benefits. They are key to the brain functioning at its full potential.
Foods: Wild salmon, walnuts, omega-3 milk & eggs (8).

4. Protein
What does it do: Protein is important to the brain because it provides energy and because neurotransmitters are usually made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein (9). Without the right amount of protein the neurotransmitters have a hard time communicating properly, which can affect brain memory and function.
Foods: Chicken, steak, eggs, tuna, milk, beans, almonds (10).

5. Vitamin B (Choline)
What does it do: Just like protein, Vitamin B supports neurotransmitter function. As mentioned earlier, neurotransmitters are necessary for memory function and storage. So in other words, choline is a very important part of being able to retain and recall information (11).
Foods: Beef, eggs, peanut butter, tofu, navy beans, almonds, cauliflower (11).

6. Water
What does it do: We all know that water already plays a very important part of keeping our entire body hydrated. However, not everyone is aware of the impact water has on the brain. Did you know that the human brain is “75-80% water” (12)? Without enough water the brain can become dehydrated which can (at an extreme) lead to brain damage. “Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements” (13). Stress is also one of the many causes of dehydration (14). Roughly eight 8oz glasses of water a day is the standard recommended amount of water to consume (13). However, “if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate” (13).

*A side note about sodium:
Sodium is an important part of our diets but like anything else consumed in excess it can have negative effects. The effects of a high sodium diet include high blood pressure and kidney stones (15). When excess sodium is excreted in urine, calcium is excreted proportionately. Excess calcium in the urine can lead to kidney stone formation. I mention this because frozen meals contain an insanely high amount of sodium (a 5-oz. frozen turkey and gravy dinner packs 787 mg. of sodium) (16). So as tempting as it is to make easy frozen dinners a staple of your diet, don’t do it.

*Another side note about fiber:
Fiber is an important part of the body’s digestive health. Without it your digestive tract becomes backed up and that can lead to constipation and even hemorrhoids. Everyone thinks that they get enough fiber in their diet, but the truth is the average American only consumes “half” of the recommended “20-35 grams” per day (17). So be aware of how much fiber is in your current diet as well.

(1) The Human Brain – Micronutrients
(2) Best Food Sources of Antioxidants ... idants.htm
(3) Green Tea Keeps Elders Mentally Sharp --LinkRemoved--
(4) Ask Dr Sears – Brain Food
(5) ScienceDaily ... 161922.htm
(6) life’sDHA
(7) Optimal Heart Health
(8) life’sDHA ... fault.aspx
(9) The Human Brain – Proteins
(10) List of High-Protein Foods ... infood.htm
(11) Choline: Food for Thought ... holine.htm
(12) Facts about the human brain --LinkRemoved--
(13) MayoClinic
(14) Water and stress reduction ... -reduction
(15) IKSI ... endations/
(16) WebMD
(17) Why you need more fiber ... more-fiber

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby ChiCity22 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:50 pm

...Drink More Beer

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby pu_golf88 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:05 pm


sumus romani
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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby sumus romani » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:12 pm

This is really great. If I had a dollar for every damn thread about brain drugs on TLS (I'd be able to buy them on the black market :lol: ). Seriously though, it is good to see a thread about easy things one can do to make one's brain work better.

One thing that people should note is that not all Omega-3s are created equal. Just something to keep in mind with one's diet.

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby theRobotpimp » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:31 pm

sumus romani wrote:One thing that people should note is that not all Omega-3s are created equal.

True. Visit this website for more information about the difference between Omega-3's (DHA/EPA/ALA): ... ega3s.aspx

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby warandpeace » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:45 pm

lol protein does not come from solely meat and almonds. try: lentils, any of the sprout family, spinach, etc.

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby squonk » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:38 pm

My dad always told me I should eat this stuff before my tests. Zaatar is considered a brain food in the Middle East. Don't know how true that is, but it's a good breakfast food either way.

edit: Apparently (according to the very same page I posted) this is a Lebanese myth. Still tasty stuff though.
Last edited by squonk on Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby sublime » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:47 pm


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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby rebcca » Wed Nov 05, 2014 6:00 am

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Re: Brain Nutrition

Postby GOATlawman » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:16 am

warandpeace wrote:lol protein does not come from solely meat and almonds. try: lentils, any of the sprout family, spinach, etc.


Yea, eat spinach for protein, I guarantee you won't look like shit :lol:

Also, he said beans, which is the same as your "lentil"

But anyways, Vegetables have MINISCULE protein compared to meats/etc

100 grams of spinach has roughly 3 grams of protein
100 grams of cooked chicken has more than 30 grams of protein
Legumes (ie. your amazing "lentils") are better but still pathetic, around 8 grams of protein per 100 grams, not to mention almost 15:1 calorie:gram protein ratio cus you're eating a SHITLOAD of carbs (which are NOT fiber!)

You would literally need to eat a truck of lentils and spinach and shit to get the same as 2 lean chicken breasts

See also, vegetarians and protein deficiency while still managing to be fat

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