The article sheds light on the sides of nourishment that go beyond everyday metabolism. Mental abilities are also affected by the quantitative side of nourishment, especially through psychic pace. Psychic pace slows down in the cases of both under- and overconsumption. The intake of certain fatty acids and amino acids is also a matter of quantity, which is reflected in IQ scores. On the quality side it is the lack of vitamins and minerals that can cause a drop in IQ or dementia. Finally, it is examined how the formation of the social values influences nourishment and thus mental abilities.
Keywords: models of nourishment, micronutrients, IQ, dementia, social values
Recent scientific opinion about nourishment is emphasizing not only the metabolic effect of our food and drink but its wide spread impact on quality and quantity of life in general. Starting on this track this paper is going to show a special field that is everyday challenged in the modern world: mental abilities.
Body constitution of humans are determined basically by genes but we can influence it with nourishment to enhance or destruct our abilities. This is valid on mental abilities: while eating chocolate will relax us but drinking alcohol switches off our consciousness. In historical times the lack of food was the problem, in modern societies food became our enemy and cause of diseases. The special field of healthcare shows an interdisciplinary field in nourishment and health psychology that can increase human life quality.
There are a quantitative and a qualitative dimension that can feature the problems of nourishment and an additional dimension that is easily understandable by social trends and culture of nourishment. These two dimensions can create a model for nourishment what we would like to introduce.
Science made enormous progress on the field of nourishment in the last decades. Scientific literature shows these results in different segments of research but summary works and reviews are rare. In this paper we try to make a synthesis within a special field of nourishment that is mental abilities that is more and more in the focus of the modern world of daily routine and scientific research as well.
QUANTITATIVE DIMENSION OF NOURISHMENT
Basically humans are the same biological structures as any other living being concerning their metabolism (exchange of energy and matter with the outer world). On this base we can consume optimal amount of energy, and it can be over and under of this middle range. Undernourishment as a trend is not a healthy way of life let it be the starving people of the third world or the anorexia nervosa. But having some easier periods of energy load can be uplifting time to time.
The people from the south islands of Japan are called Okinawas. Their nourishment is a balanced, plant based diet with some animal products (1 serving see fish every second day). Their main characteristic is the fresh, mildly fried vegetables with a huge amount of tofu. Added to this fact their amount of energy intake is always under the level of full stomach (appr. 80% of it). Not surprisingly they have the highest percent of centenaries (ratio of inhabitants age 100+) of the world.
Similar tendencies can be seen among Californian religious group of 7th Day Adventists. Their nourishment is lacto-ovo-vegetarian (LOV) connected to the avoidance of smoking, drinking alcohol, and using tobacco. Their puritan lifestyle and nourishment exposed them for many decades of the focus of scientific researches. Results show a 4+ years advance of average expected length of life compared to the neighborhood areas inhabitants. Their lower energy intake and plant based diet is the source of their dietetic advantage.
Both animal and human studies show an advantage of life expectancy when energy intake is lower then usual. Fasting has many sources but we focus now on the health aspects. Fasting rats and mice can reach the 40-50% growth of life expectancy if they get well planned fasting periods and less energy intakes. The same results are valid on humans. The so called liquid fastings are presenting the best results with their cellular big cleaning and reducing excess materials. Life expectancy can grow 20-50% joined with good health and quality of life.
The Western way of nourishment is struggling just with the opposite side of quantity problem: overconsumption. All the well known results of over nourishment as high blood pressure, obesity, hyper cholesterol level, and many other different troubles is just a segment of the risk for health. In this paper we focus on the mental abilities.
The high level of cholesterol especially LDL-cholesterol is one of the core factor for elevated risk of heart and circulation diseases. The most sensitive areas are the most fragile tissues: heart muscles and neurons via vascular stricture and agglomerated red blood cells. Neurons are naturally effected by these metabolic changes and slowly occurring the depletion in concentration and attention capacity along with the occurrence of loss of memory, IQ and sometimes dementia.
The imbalanced ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are the consequence of the high fat Western nourishment that leads also straight to the acid-base imbalance causing demielinization, multiplex sclerosis and depression. And we should not forget the basic role of omega-3 FA from mother milk as the factor that builds up brain and supports healthy development of intelligence.
Though the load of amino acids alone as precursors of neurotransmitters are not curing factors for depression or Parkinson disease but their input completing with vitamin B6, Mg, and Zn, can improve 50% the metabolism of neurotransmitters. The Western way of extra amount of amino acids can result the elevated level of homocystein that correlates with thrombosis, peripheral artery blocks, and brain stroke.
QUALITATIVE DIMENSION OF NOURISHMENT
Micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc. are responsible for the quality of nourishment.
Especially the family of B vitamins can influence the mental abilities. Lack of B12 alone can produce dementia. It is more often appears among total vegetarians. B1, cobalamin and B9 are preventive for stabilizing mental abilities. (B1 can support the cognitive outcome of the elderly via the support of neural glucose usage. Cobalamin has the same effect. B9 as well can slower dementia.)
Lack of copper can higher the risk of dementia of Alzheimer disease, but its excess especially combined with consumption of saturated fatty acids can cause demielinisation.
Lack of iron can lead to IQ loss via demielinisation and the depleted level of synthesis of neurotransmitters at almost any age. Excess of iron correlates the appearance of Alzheimer disease.
Apart from the basic nutritional factors like qualitative and quantitative compounds we have to mention the constantly growing risk of by-products of modern food factories: additives and ingredients that are causing risk for dependency.
E-additives are added to food to extend their date of expiration, make them more colourful, soft, crunchy, light, shiny etc. Problem is that their side effect appears when they accumulate. The most grandiose research took place in New York in 1978-1981. During these years 1 million school children were followed up till 18 years of age while their nourishment were changed: additives were skipped from their menu in school cafeterias and buffets. (So they could consume additives during weekends and at home!) But the results were astonishing. These years brought the biggest improvement in the history of American pedagogy. Correpetitions decreased, results of learning and entrance ratio to universities increased.
Similar results could be observed with children imprisoned for juvenile delinquency. Skipping sugar and pop beverages from their meals, and leaving out additives caused behavioural problems and aggression dropping to half than before.
Many compounds in our food can develop dependencies. Such contents are from natural sources but many are used purposely according to the food manufacturers’ strategies. Some compounds of dependency that we know: glucose, caffeine, guarana, cistine, aspartame, glutamate. Glucose and caffeine are well known cheap source efficiency enhancers. So is guarana. Cystine, aspartame and glutamate are amino acids that enhance brain activity but after dependency is established and memory loss can occur.
CONCLUSIONS AND SUMMARY
We saw the two dimensions of basic nourishment: quantity and quality. Quantity is influenced by carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They are giving the main structure and the metabolism for the body. Western societies are well fed and have the tendencies towards overconsumption that imbalances the natural resources and personal health. The third world is having the tendency of undernourishment.
Quality of food depends on micronutrients. For the Western world the lack of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. creates health problems and decreases quality of life.
The new tendency that appears with the mass production of food is additional compounds that have a variety of effects on health, too. Their role in nourishment cannot be excluded but should be controlled properly.
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