by Theresa Greenwell, International Science
Often we think about taking care of our brains and bodies separately. Many of us don’t even realize that by taking care of the brain we are also taking good care our bodies and vice versa. Dietary intake, aging and supplementation can affect the functioning of both the brain and body.
The brain cells, like all cells in the body, need energy to survive and work optimally. The body and brain get this energy from carbohydrates and fats. Vitamins and minerals are also needed, as they act as co-factors /co-enzymes in the reactions that allow our bodies to efficiently produce and use energy, as well as do many other physiological reactions. Proteins are necessary as they provide the amino acids from which neurotransmitters, enzymes and muscles are comprised. Neurotransmitters are important in regulating learning and memory, movement, mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, alertness and much more.
Aging can affect the brain and body in many ways. For the brain, the ability to make and retain memories declines, neurotransmitter production decreases and the structure of the brain changes. These changes affect a person’s way of life, their habits and their relationships with other people. For the body, aging can lessen the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, form and retain bone and regenerate tissue. These changes can cause an increase in weight and a loss in bone strength. They can also reduce a person’s ability to get around or be active. Keeping the brain and body active, eating a healthy diet and keeping a positive outlook can help to reduce some of the effects of aging.
Dietary supplements have been proven to be beneficial for keeping the brain and body healthy in various ways. Ashwagandha and rhodiola promote a decrease in stress, an increase in mental clarity and appear to inhibit feelings of fatigue. Caffeine appears to promote alertness, stimulate memory and brain activity, as well as increases glucose and lipid metabolism. Vitamins and minerals help to replenish or replace those missing in the diet, used in normal body processes or even depleted during heavy workouts or times of illness.
We only have one brain and body. Look after yourself, you’re worth it.