THE READER
August 2004

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Health and
Wellness News

Ann Bellanti
Wellness Manager


School season is approaching and now is a great time to discuss supplements that help the brain function fantastically! The supplements I’m speaking of are fat, protein, oxygen and sugar.


Fats
The brain is 60% fat, specifically omega-3 EFA kind of fat. As Hercule Poirot says, “ One must take care of the little gray cells.” The gray cells are nerve cells covered in cozy little fat blankets (myelin sheaths). Today there is much discussion and worry about FAT—good fat vs. bad fat, unsaturated fat vs. saturated fat, etc. Many people are on diets and want to avoid fat altogether. Unless you are on doctor’s directive, avoiding fat 100% for an extended period of time can be dangerous. The heart is unusual and special in that it only uses triglycerides (fat) for energy. Without triglycerides for an extended period of time, one may put themselves at risk of heart damage or even heart attack. Omega-3 EFAs are found in several liquid bottles and capsules—Flax Seed oil, Fish oil, Evening Primrose oil, Borage oil, etc.


Proteins

The next large portion of the brain is the nerve cells. Neurotransmitters do the zipping and firing activities across the nerve cells. Neurotransmitters are also amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of larger protein molecules. Protein is found in meat forms (land, water and air animals) and in non-meat forms (soy, whey, or veggie protein powders, or by combining a legume and a grain to get all 8 or 10 essential amino acids). “Essential” because they are the amino acids that we cannot make in our own bodies—8 for adults, 10 for children. On our cans of protein powders, there is a long list of amino acids, essential and non-essential. Each amino acid has a specific and important function, but that’s a huge topic for another month.


Oxygen
The brain contains tons of blood volume needed to oxygenate the brain constantly. Exercise aids in oxygenating the brain further. All exercise is great for the brain, even a simple fast walk around the block each morning can do wonders!


Sugar
Lastly, the brain is unusual and special in that it only uses glucose for energy. That’s right, good ol’ fashioned sugar is needed for the brain. I’m not suggesting a candy bar for breakfast; juice or fruit will do just fine to get the brain going. Glycogen (condensed glucose packages) can be stored, but it takes a long time to break it down into little usable glucose units. If you are sitting in rush hour traffic or sitting for an early morning exam, you need the glucose energy NOW! So... a glass of juice or a piece of fruit in the morning is the way to go!


Smoothies
I’ve talked about fat, protein, oxygen and sugar. All can be combined into a breakfast smoothie. Add a little exercise in the morning, and your brain is ready go!
Ultimate Breakfast Smoothie Recipe: Throw into a blender: 1 Tbls. Flax oil, 1 scoop of protein powder, 1 cup of milk or juice or water, 1 handful of frozen/fresh berries or fruit (strawberries, blueberries, mango, etc. Frozen items give a frothy texture), 1 banana (gives a creamy texture).