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What is Brain Nutrition?

A collection of specialized cells (neurons) in the head that regulates behavior as well as sensory and motor functions. The three main parts of the brain in vertebrates are the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brainstem that connects them with each other and with the spinal cord (see illustration).

The two cerebral hemispheres are separated by a midline fissure that is bridged by a massive bundle of axons running in both directions, the corpus callosum. Each hemisphere has a core of groups of neurons (the basal ganglia); an outer shell of neurons in layers (the cerebral cortex); and massive bundles of axons for communication within the cerebrum and with the rest of the brain. These bundles are called white matter because of the waxy myelin sheaths surrounding the axons. See also Neuron.

The basal ganglia comprises three main groups.
(1) The thalamus receives axons from all sensory systems and transmits information to the cortex. It also receives feedback from cortical neurons during sensory processing.
(2) The striatum, comprising bundles of axons cutting through the groups of neurons, also has two-way communication with the cortex and assists in the organization of body movement.
(3) The hypothalamus receives orders from the cortex and organizes the chemical systems that support body movement. One output channel is hormonal, and controls the pituitary gland (hypophysis) which in turn controls the endocrine system. The other channel is neural, comprising axons coursing through the brainstem and spinal cord to the motor neurons of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the heart, blood vessels, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, sex organs, and skin. The autonomic and endocrine systems are largely self regulating, but they are subject to control by the cortex through the hypothalamus. See also Autonomic nervous system; Endocrine system (vertebrate); Neurobiology.

The cortex is also called gray matter because it contains the axons, cell bodies, and dendrites of neurons but there is very little myelin. An index of the capacity of a brain is cortical surface area.

In higher mammals, the cortical surface increases more rapidly than the volume during fetal development; as a result the surface folds, taking the form of convexities (gyri) and fissures (sulci) that vary in their details from one brain to another. However, they are sufficiently reliable to serve as landmarks on the cerebral hemisphere that it can be subdivided into lobes.

Four lobes make up the shell of each hemisphere, namely the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. Each lobe contains a motor or sensory map (an orderly arrangement of cortical neurons associated with muscles and sensory receptors on the body surface). The central sulcus delimits the frontal and parietal lobes. The precentral gyrus contains the motor cortex whose neurons transmit signals to motor neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord which control the muscles in the feet, legs, trunk, arms, face, and tongue of the opposite side of the body.

The number of neurons for each section is determined by the fineness of control, not the size of the muscle; for example, the lips and tongue have larger areas than the trunk. Within the postcentral gyrus is the primary somatosensory cortex. Sensory receptors in the skin, muscles, and joints send messages to the somatosensory cortical cells through relays in the spinal cord and the thalamus to a map of the opposite side of the body in parallel to the map in the motor cortex.

The lateral fissure separates the temporal lobe from the parietal and frontal lobes. The cortex on the inferior border of the fissure receives input relayed through the thalamus from the ears to the primary auditory cortex. The occipital lobe receives thalamic input from the eyes and functions as the primary visual cortex.

In humans, the association cortex surrounds the primary sensory and motor areas that make up a small fraction of each lobe. The occipital lobe has many specialized areas for recognizing visual patterns of color, motion, and texture. The parietal cortex has areas that support perception of the body and its surrounding personal space.

Its operation is manifested by the phenomenon of phantom limb, in which the perception of a missing limb persists for an amputee. Conversely, individuals with damage to these areas suffer from sensory neglect. The temporal cortex contains areas that provide recognition of faces and of rhythmic patterns, including those of speech, dance, and music.

The frontal cortex provides the neural capabilities for constructing patterns of motor behavior and social behavior. It was the rapid enlargement of the frontal and temporal lobes in human evolution over the past half million years that supported the transcendence of humans over other species. This is where the capacity to create works of art, and also to anticipate pain and death, is located. Insight and foresight are both lost with bilateral frontal lobe damage, leading to reduced experience of anxiety, asocial behavior, and a disregard of consequences of actions.

A small part of frontal lobe output goes directly to motor neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord for fine control of motor activities, such as search movements by the eyes, head, and fingers, but most goes either to the striatum from which it is relayed to the thalamus and then back to the cortex, or to the brainstem from which it is sent to the cerebellum and then through the thalamus back to the cortex.

In the cerebellum, the cortical messages are integrated with sensory input predominantly from the muscles, tendons, and joints, but also from the eyes and inner ears (for balance) to provide split-second timing for rapid and complex movements. The cerebellum also has a cortex and a core of nuclei to relay input and output. Their connections, along with those in the cerebral cortex, are subject to modification with learning in the formation of a working memory (the basis for learned skills). See also Memory; Motor systems.

The cerebellum and striatum do not set goals, initiate movements, store temporal sequences of sensory input, or provide orientation to the spatial environment. These functions are performed by parts of the cortex and striatum deep in the brain that constitute another loop, the limbic system. Its main site of entry is the entorhinal cortex, which receives input from all of the sensory cortices, including the olfactory system.

The input from all the sensory cortices is combined and sent to the hippocampus, where it is integrated over time. Hippocampal output returns to the entorhinal cortex, which distributes the integrated sensory information to all of the sensory cortices, updates them, and prepares them to receive new sensory input. This new information also reaches the hypothalamus and part of the striatum (the amygdaloid nucleus) for regulating emotional behavior. Bilateral damage to the temporal lobe including the hippocampus results in loss of short-term memory. Damage to the amygdaloid nucleus can cause serious emotional impairment.

The Papez circuit is formed by transmission from the hippocampus to the hypothalamus by the fornix, then to the thalamus, parietal lobe, and entorhinal cortex. The limbic system generates and issues goal-directed motor commands, with corollary discharge to the sensory systems that prepares them for the changes in sensory input caused by motor activity (for example, when one speaks and hears oneself, as distinct from another).

Each hemisphere has its own limbic, Papez, cortico-thalamic, cortico-striatal, and cortico-cerebellar loops, together with sensory and motor connections. When isolated by surgically severing the callosum, each hemisphere functions independently, as though two conscious persons occupied the same skull, but with differing levels of skills in abstract reasoning and language.

The right brain (spatial)-left brain (linguistic) cognitive differences are largely due to preeminent development of the speech areas in the left hemisphere in most right- and left-handed persons. Injury to Broca's area (located in the frontal lobe) and Wernicke's area (located in the temporal lobe) leads to loss of the ability, respectively, to speak (motor aphasia) or to understand speech (sensory aphasia). Studies of blood flow show that brain activity during intellectual pursuits is scattered broadly over the four lobes in both hemispheres.

Brain Nutrition Nutrition influences brain function in a variety of ways. The brain disturbances of an alcoholic, unstable diabetic, pellagra victim, or elderly patient with vitamin B12 and/or folic acid deficiency are all recognized examples of nutritional mental illnesses.

Vitamin deficiency is always a concern with brain dysfunction, and the risk of deficiency increases as mental disorder increases. B-vitamins play a critical role in brain function. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a notable cause of numbness, tingling, incoordination, and impaired cognitive function. Niacin deficiency presents as dementia, dermatitis, and diarrhea.
Thiamine deficiency causes cognitive dysfunction and is fully expressed in malnourished alcoholics as Wernicke's psychosis. Vitamin-mineral supplementation is always a desirable component of nutritional therapy, although high doses of individual nutrients are only desirable in acute deficiency states.

Our emphasis is always on correct proportioning of nutrient intake - the right molecules at the right place at the right time.

Sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are the key mineral ions in the brain and must be maintained in critical balance. Low calcium levels produce, painful muscle contractions with dizziness, confusion, and even seizures. Hyperventilation causes a sudden drop in blood calcium levels that produces tetany.

Magnesium can reduce brain irritation and block seizures during alcohol withdrawal and toxemia during pregnancy. Extra calcium and magnesium tend to have a calming effect and are safe to take in supplemental form. Potassium intake is often deficient and increased potassium intake is desirable. Sugars and sodium salts are used in moderation.

Protein intake is carefully considered because of the many possibilities for ingested protein to cause nervous system disease through biochemical and immune misadventures. Most food-input problems can be avoided by replacing food with an elemental nutrient formula ( Alpha ENF). We can expect brain function to settle into a more stable, more functional state within 10 days.

Alpha BMX can be added to the daily nutrient intake to boost levels of key nutrients into the therapeutic range. If mental aberrations are severe, many months of careful feeding with Alpha BMX plus meticulously selected and prepared food may be required. With improved mental clarity, better cognitive functioning, and more stable moods, cravings and compulsive eating are less likely to upset nutritional balances.

The problems of adverse brain effects of nutrient deficiencies, the toxic effect of molecules derived from food, and the immunogenic potential of food proteins and peptides are under-recognized. There are a host of clues that link the food supply to mysterious and threatening neurological diseases.

We suggest that a prudent person suffering early brain-dysfunction symptoms would be wise to pursue vigorous, thorough diet revision at the earliest opportunity. Because some brain dysfunction compromises judgment learning, and motivation, family members, friends and professional advisor often have to provide the right direction and support.

Life Extension's Cognitex W/ NeuroProtection Complex

Jarrow Neuro Optimizer

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