MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: what can i eat to get a better memory?do you suggest eggs?

Date: Mon Oct 4 20:17:25 2004
Posted By: Dian Dooley, , Associate Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 1078064186.Ns


     There are many things that can affect memory, and food/nutrition 
certainly is one of them.  The quick answer is to eat a balanced and 
varied diet, with enough energy each day to keep your body (including your 
brain) functioning as good as it can.

     Now, the longer answer:  Your brain needs an adequate supply of 
carbohydrate to function properly...that is for the blood glucose (sugar) 
to stay at a reasonable level, so that your brain has enough energy.  
There are also a number of compounds that are necessary for nervous 
impulses to be moved around the brain and then out to the rest of the 
body.  These compounds are called 'neurotransmitters'...some of them are 
made from the protein that you eat in meat, eggs, milk, and dried peas and 
beans (like kidney beans, split peas, soy products).  You also get a 
little bit of protein from breads, cereals, and other plant products (like 
vegetables).  So, you need adequate protein in your diet, too, for your 
brain to work correctly.  Some of the parts of protein can actually be 
made into carbohydrate, too, if you run short of carbohydrate stores in 
the body.

     When you were a baby, fat was also very important in your diet for 
your brain to complete its development.  So either your mother's breast 
milk or the formula you were fed was quite high in fat...such that about 
50% of the energy it contained was from fat.  Some of that fat was used to 
complete the coverings of part of each nerve cell (called the 'myelin 
sheath').  The myelin sheath is sort of like the insulation found around 
electrical wires to keep them from shorting out when the current flows 
across them, instead of up or down them.

     You also need certain vitamins and minerals for your brain to 
function well...including iron...which is found mainly in meat products.  
Several of the vitamins are necessary to create those neurotransmitters 
that I mentioned before, like vitamin C.

     Now, to your question about eggs.  Eggs contain protein (in the 
white), some fat (in the yolk), and a number of vitamins and 
minerals...including iron.  So, yes, eggs are a reasonable food to eat to 
maintain your body's (and brain's) health...and help you think better.  
Also, the more you use your brain, the better your memory should be.  
Keeping the body/brain busy is what makes you stronger.  Doing memory 
games (like crossword puzzles) and physical exercise helps, too.  The 
physical exercise helps increase blood to all parts of the body, including 
the brain.  And, of course, since I am a nutritionist, here at the 
University of Hawai`i/Manoa, I'm going to close with my recommendation to 
eat and enjoy a variety of plant and animal foods to make sure you get all 
the nutrients you need to keep your body/brain working well.

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