Opinion Stage

Sunday, June 23, 2013





          These foods and nutrients have been shown to boost memory in noteworthy ways:

  • Carbohydrates in Pasta – Stimulates production of serotonin, which fuels learning.
  • Boron in Apples, Pears, Beans, Peas – Enhances alertness for learning
  • Magnesium in Whole Wheat, Nuts – Enhances alertness and general memory.
  • Zinc in Shellfish, Beans, Peas and Dark Turkey Meat – Aids short-term recall, work and visual memory.
  • Aged Garlic – Improves spatial memory, fights age-related memory loss
  • Sugar or Glucose – Improves short-term memory.
  • Unsaturated Fat in Olive Oil, Fish Oil – Strengthens general learning abilities.
  • Citicoline in Egg Yolks, Organ Meats – Enhances verbal memory.
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS) in supplements – Stimulates memory of names, faces, lost objects and numbers.

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer, LIFESTYLE section dated November 30, 1999, C8, MUSCLE AND FITNESS


  1. Keep yourself in tip-top shape. Always take multivitamins and mineral supplements to increase your physical energy, help you stay sharp and alert and keep your bones healthy and strong.
  2. Do you know that the brain cells we are born with never increase in number, only decrease? We can only be smarter by keeping them healthy by taking enough iron which ensures oxygen is delivered to our brain cells. Make sure to include iron-rich foods like meat, eggs, fish, liver and green-leafy vegetables like malunggay in your daily intake.
  3. You’ll be fool without any B’s! Mental performance is hampered without adequate amount of B vitamins.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals are essential to life. These nutrients are needed by the body to function properly. A well-functioning system means good health, physically and mentally. To achieve good health, we need to eat a well-balanced meal, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, meditate at least 30 minutes a day and take Multivitamins and Minerals everyday.

SOURCE: Mercury Drug 2003 Calendar


          What you eat, and when you eat, has a bigger impact on your brain that you might think. Foods affect the mind in powerful and surprising ways. What you put in your mouth can change your mood, alertness, memory and clarity of thought. Dr. Richard J. Wurthman, director of M.I.T.’s Clinical Research Center, and his colleagues, have measured the reactions of the brain to different foods. They and other researchers have discovered that the brain’s function and chemistry depend on whether you had lunch and what you ate. Here are their findings:


        The first thing in the morning, many of us feast on carbohydrates such as congee and rice dishes. These starches increase the presence in the brain of the soothing neurotransmitter serotonin. As a result, we might not reach our normal morning energy peak.

          Eggs, sausage and bacon contain high fat and cholesterol. They are slow to digest, diverting blood from the brain and thereby reducing mental sharpness.

    A good breakfast, scientist now believes, features food low in fat. This means choosing lean meat instead of sausage or bacon and fresh fruit or juice instead of sugary foods.

      How about caffeine? After one or two cups of coffee or tea at breakfast, you will be more alert, have better reaction time and score better on some performance tests. After three or more cups of coffee, however, caffeine over-stimulation can begin making you less sharp and clear-headed.


Few people are aware of the effect of a “three-carbohydrate lunch” featuring only such foods as bread, noodles or rice, and sweet desserts. One study, headed by Psychologist Bonnie Spring, found such meals made women sleepy and men calmer and lethargic. Moreover, says Spring, “we found that men and women over at age 40 were less able to keep their minds focused on work for up to four hours after eating carbohydrates that were those who ate a high-protein meal instead.

Why? Protein-rich meals of poultry or fish, for example, charge your bloodstream with amino acids, including tyrosine. Tyrosine is carried across the protective filter called the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, this amino acid is available for conversion into the alertness chemicals: dopamine and norepinephrine. If stress exhausts the brain’s supply of these neurotransmitters, the result may be confusion, indecisiveness, anxiety and depression.

Another key nutrient that is carried across the blood-brain barrier is choline, which is found in fish, meats, egg yolks, soy products, rice and peanuts. Choline is a chemical precursor of the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The latter plays a major role in memory.


          Unless you need stimulation and energy to work or study during the night, avoid proteins – such as meat or fish – at supper. Instead, choose carbohydrates. These foods alter brain chemistry indirectly: by triggering a release of the hormone insulin, they cause muscle cells to take up most amino acids in the bloodstream. One amino acid not taken up is trytophan, a scarce chemical that competes with other amino acids for transport through the blood-brain barrier. With its competition reduced, more trytophan enters the brain, where it is converted into the soothing neurotransmitter serotonin.

        Carbohydrates may have a deeper influence in the mind than scientist used to suspect. According to Dr. Samuel Seltzer in the United States, in addition to making a person drowsy, trytophan can also help reduce sensitivity to pain.

            Eating the right food at the right time of day can make a considerable difference in your state of mind. But instead of simply adjusting their diet, some people experiment with “smart pills” said to improve brain function. Some are as commonplace as choline, a highly impure form of which is marketed as lecithin. Others include carnitine, a carrier molecule involved in fatty acid metabolism, and tyrosine, which in its pure form – that is, without the amino acids normally accompanying it in dietary supplements – can cause dangerous changes in blood pressure. Trytophan pills used to be sold as nutritional supplements, but they were banned in the United States following at least 28 deaths caused by contamination. Hong Kong and Singapore have followed suit.

         Scientists warn against taking such mind-altering substances. The brain’s chemistry works as a delicate balance in which an excess of one vital chemical can cause a shortage of another. Large amounts of tyrosine, for example, can reduce the amount of trytophan crossing the blood-brain barrier.

         The best advice, says Judith Wurtman, is to feed your head with food, not pills. “It is impossible to overdose on the amino acids in foods,” she says. “Get them the way nature intended in real food.”

SOURCE: Reader’s Digest September 1992 issue: Foods That Sharpen Your Mind by Lowell Ponte 

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