By Brigitte Mars
New studies are being conducted on neural nutrients. The amino acid, phenylalanine helps to improve mental alertness, ambition and awareness. Choline and inositol are both components of lecithin (available derived from soybeans in natural food stores). They contribute to our ability to plan and focus. Autopsies show that lecithin is present in large amounts in the brains of very intelligent people and low in those brains that had mental deficiencies.
With most animals, it is the bone structure that develops first, but in the human baby, it is the brain that first develops. Composed of something like 10 billion neurons, or nerve cells which is about half the body’s total sum of neurons, our brains are responsible for thought, movement, speech and sensation. Neurons never touch. There are small gaps between them called synapses. When stimulated, the neurons release a chemical neurotransmitter that jumps across the synapse to the next nerve cell.
Clear thinking is something the world needs more of. Our brains weight only about 2% of the body’s total weight, yet our brains require about 20% of the body’s intake of oxygen. For improved acuity, remember to focus on breathing more deeply as oxygen is truly food for the brain. Chlorophyll rich foods are excellent oxygen transporters. High protein foods encourage best mental performances. However, foods high in fat can cloud our perception. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia can contribute to learning disabilities. Small frequent meals rich in whole grains help to keep blood sugar levels stable. Many emotional and mental disturbances have their roots in prolonged vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Good brain foods are considered dark green leafy vegetables, fish, lean poultry, beans and cauliflower.
There are many herbs that have been used throughout history to nourish and stimulate mental functions and mental health. Among the most well known are:
Ginkgo biloba – Improves the brains’ ability to utilize oxygen and glucose by improving peripheral blood flow. This herb has been found to improve nerve signal transmission, activate ATP Adenosine triphosphate, an organic compound that aids metabolic reactions. Ginkgo is currently one of the most common herbs prescribed in Europe and is used for treating senility.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) – A gentle, aromatic stimulant that promotes energy circulation.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticcosus) – Nourishing to the adrenal and pituitary glands, increases the body’s ability to deal with stress. Studies done in the Soviet Union show that this herb improves accuracy on the job.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – The smell of this herb is said to help alleviate anxiety. Ancient Greeks wore laurels of rosemary in their hair when taking examinations to improve their memories. The uplifting fragrance of Rosemary is said to stimulate the pineal gland and improve energy levels. Rosemary is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – Sweet and energizing, this herb improves vitality. I helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and is nourishing to the adrenal glands.
Chickweed (Stellaria media) – Rich in the neuronutrients, phosphorus and lecithin.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa) – Rich in calcium and nerve nourishing.
Cardamom Seed (Elettaria cardamomum) – A delicious aromatic and gentle stimulant.
Prickly Ash (Xanthoxylum americanum) – Increases entire body’s circulation.
To protect brain function, it would be wise to avoid aluminium, in the form of cookware, some types of baking powder, water softeners, commercial deodorants, many antiacids and non-dairy coffee creamers. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have been known to show high levels of aluminium in their brain when autopsies were performed.
We can improve brain function by better using our abilities. The brain is an organ that gains strength with the balance of repose and right use. Use it or you’ll lose it!