Your brain consists mainly of water and fatty acids, and it requires a constant supply of glucose sugar for energy and optimal performance, and it consumes a large amount of glucose daily, and although it prefers glucose over other energy sources, when necessary it may burn fatty compounds for energy.
Interestingly, the amount of protein in the brain is very small, maybe this makes you wonder if the brain needs protein in the first place, but it turns out that protein is very necessary for brain function, although it does not form a large part of the structure of your brain.
The neurons in your brain use protein to communicate with each other, and amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are used to make neurotransmitters that help the brain regulate the functions of other organs in the body in a correct way; this means that protein is necessary for Brain Health and function, moreover, protein deficiency in all your other organs may affect indirectly through the decline in brain function.
How protein affects brain health:
Here’s what you need to know about how protein affects brain health, as well as how to improve your diet to improve brain function:
1. Protein protects against age-related cognitive impairment:
A high-protein diet reduces the amount of “amyloid-beta” (amyloid-beta) peptide in the body, which is predisposing to Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s), in one study conducted on more than 500 elderly people; those who consumed 120 grams of protein per day had lower levels of beta-amyloid than those who consumed 54 grams per day.
In addition, another study conducted on 920 elderly people showed that those who follow a high-protein diet, along with a lot of leafy vegetables and healthy fats, their cognitive functions improved and their risk of dementia decreased.
It is not entirely clear how protein affects amyloid beta levels in the brain; some believe that they are caused by the antihypertensive and heart-healthy effect of a high-protein diet, generally factors that improve heart health also improve brain health.
There is another theory that a high-protein diet helps to control weight; as protein stimulates satiety, reducing the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates causing inflammation, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing inflammation is essential for body health in general, and heart and brain health in particular.
Although eating 120 grams of protein a day seems difficult, if you focus on introducing some healthy proteins into all your main and snack meals throughout the day, you will have no problem getting enough protein necessary for brain health.
2. Protein promotes normal brain development in infants and toddlers:
It turned out that protein is no less important in infants and toddlers than in the elderly.during pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life, protein is very necessary for early brain development. although nerve cells consist of fat and feed mainly on glucose, they need protein to communicate with each other and control many of the body’s processes necessary for growth and development.
Protein is also involved in the synthesis of hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes that the brain uses to accomplish many basic tasks in other parts of the body; a lack of protein in these early stages of development can lead to a small brain size, a decrease in the number of neurons and the amount of neurotransmitters, in addition to a lower content of DNA and RNA.
3. Protein affects mood, appetite and energy levels:
This may surprise you, but what you eat affects not only general brain function, but also mood and emotions.a lack of protein can lead to a decline in cognitive function, because a lack of protein depletes the chemicals in your brain that control energy levels, moods and appetite. a lack of protein in the diet may also contribute to some types of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, and it doesn’t end there.
Eating a heavy meal full of carbohydrates will make you feel tired and lazy; this is because it promotes the production of “tryptophan” (Tryptophan) in the brain, and tryptophan is a neurotransmitter that increases the levels of the hormone “serotonin” (Serotonin), which promotes a feeling of calm and drowsiness.
On the other hand, eating a protein-rich meal can make you alert and full of energy; because it increases the level of the amino acid “tyrosine” (Tyrosine); it is used to produce “dopamine” (Dopamine) and”norepinephrine” (Norepinephrine), two neurotransmitters that enhance alertness and energy levels.
Eating too much sugar, refined carbohydrates and caffeine also affects the production of these neurotransmitters; that is, in other words, you cannot fix an unhealthy diet and an unhealthy lifestyle just by eating more protein.
4. Protein affects the production of hormones:
Although some hormones are made up of fat, many of them are made up of protein; hormones communicate like neurotransmitters, but a little more slowly; as they are very important for reproductive health, thyroid health, liver, brain and many others.
The body cannot synthesize essential amino acids contained in high-quality protein sources, and this means that our diet must contain them to maintain proper hormonal balance.
5. Protein affects the function of enzymes:
Protein has the ability to change its shape, bend and twist on itself to form structures to build enzymes, and these small enzymes are very necessary for brain health; they help to break down plaques inside the brain, help the formation of neurotransmitters, and other functions.
6. Adjusts your diet to improve brain health:
We all know that animal products are the main source of protein, but it’s surprising that there are other great sources of protein that you should add to your diet, animal protein often has a high fat content, and it is more difficult to digest than vegetable proteins, and eating some vegetable proteins also provides useful enzymes and other nutrients that support brain health.
Vegetable protein bars, powders and meal replacement drinks containing soy protein are all great for getting more healthy vegetable proteins in food without getting unnecessary calories, nuts, seeds and legumes are rich in protein, and contain healthy fats that are also necessary for brain health, even green leafy vegetables may provide a good amount of protein, in addition to other nutrients necessary for brain health.
When you consume carbohydrates, be careful to eat complex carbohydrates; because they often provide some protein, in addition to other valuable nutrients, without raising blood sugar quickly, such as sugar, and refined carbohydrates; complex carbohydrates can be found in starchy vegetables and whole grains.
When choosing a healthy diet, variety is the basis to ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs; it’s no different in that in terms of protein, your brain needs a variety of different amino acids to produce neurotransmitters, enzymes, hormones and connective tissue.
Different types of proteins contain different amino acids in varying amounts, in addition, your body cannot store protein the way it stores fat, and although protein circulates in the bloodstream for a few days, it must be replenished daily to maintain the stock you need.
Be sure to diversify protein sources during the week so that your brain can get the various amino acids it needs to perform certain tasks, and remember that your brain is a wonderful machine that can take care of itself, provided you provide it with the right raw materials.