Is there such a thing as brain food?

As in food that helps with memory and studying.


also creatine has been shown to increase IQ.

unless you are on a low-carb diet though, i doubt you will feel any difference.

if carbs are low enough your brain might shut down altogether and you go into shock, coma and die :slight_smile: this is what happens form insulin overdose.

information makes for better brain food than food :slight_smile:

Omega-3, one the best source of which is fish, especially oily fish.

From the BBC:

Especially EPA

if carbs are low enough your brain might shut down altogether

This is technically true in some sense, but I feel it is rather misleading. Severe hypoglycemia can cause anything from loss of consciousness to seizure to death, and glucose is, indeed, a carb, but in most healthy people this is not a real concern (and is usually preceded by fatigue, sweatiness or other symptoms of lesser hypoglycemia first.

The brain and heart muscle, in point of fact, are two tissues that don’t usually rely on blood sugar as a fuel at all. Both primarily use 2-3 carbon subunits (ketones) as a fuel rather than glucose (a 6-carbon sugar). Ketones are produced by the breakdown of fat in adipose tissues and are an intermediate in the breakdown of glucose in all other tissues.

Blood sugar does not primarily derive directly from dietary intake anyway. In the first place, most carbs have to be converted to glucose, a process that is well regulated. Sucrose (table sugar) for example, is broken into glucose (‘blood sugar’) and fructose (‘fruit sugar’) which is converted to more glucose (Table sugar is chemically known as alpha-d-glucosido-beta-d-fructo-furanoside.) Glycogen (a storage substance in your liver) is a giant molecule consisting of glucose linked in branching chains; cellulose (wood fiber) is also nothing but giant molecules made of glucose linked in giant branching chains, but a small difference in the location of the links means that we can break glycogen down almost instantly on demand, but we can’t break down cellulose at all (Even cows and termites cant. They rely on bacteria in their gut to do that job)

If dietary intake did depend on dietary, normal human blood sugar would swing so dramatically that most cookies, candies and sodas would be potenitally lethal. A normal fasting blood glucose (e.g. when you get up in the morning) is typically 70-120 mg/dL for a total of 3-7 grams of glucose (a fraction of a teaspoon) in all the blood in your body. Above roughly 250-300 mg/dL you kidneys can’t hold the glucose back anymore, and you see the ‘sweet urine’ that gives diabetes mellitus its name. When the sugar spills over, it usually brings a lot of water with it, which can leadto rapid dehydration and other biochemical derangements, including the famous ketoacidosis and diabetic coma. (which is the opposite of insulin coma)

A single chocolate bar or soda can contain 20-30 times as much sugar as your entire bloodstream (one standard glucose tolerance test involves measuring your blood sugar after you drink a cola with a measured 100g of sugar), yet a normal person’s blood sugar won’t do much more than double, even after two dozen donuts, a half gallon of Haagen Daaz, and a six-pack of Jolt. Clearly your body quickly converts almost all the sugar you eat, and produces more glucose on demand.

Fats are long hydrocarbon chains (with a fatty acid head), which can be thought of, conceptually, as chains of two-carbon subunits (ketones). Sugars can be thought of as 6-carbon rings (depending on the local environment) made of those same two-carbon ketones. A normal, healthy person can disassemble fat into ketones, and reassembling the ketones into glucose [a process called gluconeogenesis]. Depending on your diet and activity, your body may have different amounts of the necessary enzymes, but don’t worry, in a healthy person, significant increases in the relevant enzymes can be produced in days.

(The so-called “induction phase” in many low-carb diets lasts two weeks, not because it takes long to produce ketogenic enzymes, but because it takes time for the noramlly active ‘carb enzymes’ to break down as they are replaced at much lower levels of production)

While studies have indeed shown that carb intake, specifically sugar intake, can enhance memory, it’s a fairly limited effect on recent memory. I suppose that when you’re an animal foraging for food, and you come across a high energy source, it’s useful to give your memory a kick in the behind, so you’ll remember how you acquired the good stuff. A similar effect has been seen after fat consumption, but ‘fatty’ levels in the blood normally fluctuate more than sugar levels, and have entirely different biochemical roles as well.

Actually quite a few substances have been shown to increase the effectivelness or durability of memories produced in the short period around the time they are consumed. I recall that nasal sprays of vasopressin (a hormone that control blood pressure) and glycosides found in ginseng and so-called Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticossus, not related to ‘real’ ginseng) and even ordinary every day coffee have been shown to have positive effects on memory – but whether or not those results stood up or not, the effect is just a few percent of the effects of effective study habits.

Bummer, huh?

This stuff seems to be extremely useful. I take supplements of it in order to improve my psoriasis, after reading a study that claimed that it helped, but not liking oily fish.

There was a segment about ‘brain food’ on a current affairs show last night, the nutritionist reccomended foods with a low glycemic index. Fish was one food that was mentioned, as was Pasta.