Quite often players performing at a high level tend to overlook their diet. Yet, nutrition has a substantial impact on skill and, in particular, on performance of a high-level athlete and ordinary people in general. Dr. Youssouf Djonouma, functional sports medicine expert, further explains and describes the relationship between nutrition and performance and then gives us some advice on how best to improve performance with basic food.
How does our brain chemically and energetically work ?
Glucose metabolism and oxygen provide the fuel for physiological brain activity through the generation of ATP. It uses about 25% of your circulation glucose, requiring about 5g of glucose per hour, or 120g per day The physiologic brain tissue oxygen content can sustain unimpeded brain function for only 1 second, making tight regulation of blood flow and oxygen delivery critical for people.
Approximately 60 percent of your brain matter consists of fats: phospholipids form the backbone of neural membranes and membrane surface area is 250,000 μm², totaling 25000 m² when all the neurons in the brain are considered. All brain actions take place at the membrane level (neurotransmission and brain electrical conductivity).
Brain membrane phospholipids are essentially made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats) having several functions:
They participate in neural membrane structure (membrane fluidity, cholesterol synthesis and expression of neurotransmitters receptors on the membrane of nerve cells)and have anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic activity
Amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine are used by the brain for the synthesis of various neurotransmitters and neuromodulators (acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) aiding in the communication of information between neurons.
Besides, some micronutrients such as iron, zinc, Manganese, Selenium, the B vitamin family (B1, B3, B6, B9, B12), vitamins A, C, D, E, magnesium are required to orchestrate a range of physiological reactions.
Our brain needs daily animal proteins (meat, fish, and egg), cereals (wheat, rice, etc.) and legumes (bean, lentil, chickpeas, among others).
Finally, the human gut microbiome impacts human brain health in numerous ways – the biomass of the gut microbiota may reach up to 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds) – and microbiota have several important effects on the host immune system and body cells (chronic inflammation, proliferation of pathogenic bacteria, intestinal hyperpermeability, optimal digestive health, blood-brain barrier).Altered intestinal microbial flora may inhibit the transfer of information between neurons and cause impaired brain activity, in particular during stressful situations.
Does the brain consume more calories when
we think harder ?
Physical exercise, mental workouts are supposed to increase glucose consumption by the brainDips in glucose availability can have a negative impact on attention, memory and learning, and that administering glucose can enhance these aspects of cognitive function. The brain also uses up more glucose during challenging mental tasks. Therefore, it may be especially important to keep blood glucose levels at an optimum level for good cognitive function.
Oxygen supply is an important factor to consider because oxygen is meant to be captured by the lung and then transported through the red blood cells and ultimately delivered to the brain to meet cellular energy needs.
“For some people, supplements may be a useful way to get nutrients they might be lacking but if you don’t have nutrient deficiency the use of supplements will not enhance your brain activity.”
Dr. Y. Djonouma
How to boost your cognitive abilities with food supply ?
In some cases, supplements may be a useful way to get nutrients you might be lacking but if you don’t have nutrient deficiency the use of supplements will not enhance your brain activity. Inadequate intake or subtle deficiencies in several nutrients are risk factors for diseases. Micronutrient testing offers the most accurate, scientifically proven method of assessing nutritional deficiencies and therefore it is able to prevent diseases in eSports players. The overall recommendations which can be useful for any players are listed below.
– Consumption of iodine-rich foods (seafood, fish, seaweed), magnesium-rich foods (banana, dark chocolate, dried fruit, etc.), ion-rich foods (black sausage, mussel, liver, undercooked red meat).
– Consumption of foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (avocado, nut oil, rapeseed oil, linseed oil, fish)
– Consumption of antioxidant-rich foods (fresh fruits and colored vegetables)
– Avoiding foods rich in trans fatty acids (biscuits, pie crust, shortening, frosting, bisquick, store-bought cookies and cakes, crackers, deep-fried food) because these fatty acids actually decrease the level of HDL (“good cholesterol”) in the bloodstream and replace it in the membrane, which affects the electrical activity of the neuron. People eating a large amount of food rich in trans fatty acids are more likely to have behavioral problems including hyperactivity, anxiety, temper tantrums, impulsivity.
– Avoiding fizzy drink, food coloring used in foods and high-phosphorus foods (Additives and preservatives) which are factors of hyperactivity and temper tantrums
– Avoiding tobacco because it increases dopamine agonists, causes cerebral edema which is a common result of severe carbon monoxide poisoning and induces a high oxidative stress in neural cells.
– Sometimes consuming foods fermented by lactic acid-producing bacteria (pre- and probiotics) to keep your gastrointestinal systems healthy and functioning properly.