The brain, together with the enteric nervous system, represents the central site of metabolic regulation. This control system consists of incalculable amounts of receptors that are distributed all over the body to manage an appropriate nutrient intake.

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									HealtH management

can FunctiOnal ingredients
cOntriBute tO Brain HealtH
and mental perFOrmance?
  Never before have humans been confronted with such substantial changes in their environment and lifestyle.
 During the last 100 years, our whole experience of time and space has changed fundamentally. Considering the
 time that adaptive processes in biological systems require, it may not be surprising to learn that there is a rise in the
 proportion of the population that seems to suffer from “maladaption.” Despite the fact that the causality is complex,
 indications are accumulating that suggest that nutrition may play an important role in the growing percentage of
 people who suffer from developmental disorders, ADHD, depression and other mental conditions.

          he brain, together with the enteric nervous system, represents   hence, the transportation of essential nutrients to the brain. By
          the central site of metabolic regulation. This control system    contrast, the consumption of chocolate may contribute to a better
          consists of incalculable amounts of receptors that are           mood (psychological parameter), resulting not only from the taste but
          distributed all over the body to manage an appropriate           also from the fact that chocolate contains the amino acid, tryptophan,
nutrient intake. For example, Hoodia — an ingredient that gained           which represents a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, one
a lot of attention for satiety and weight management — affects the         of the “feel-good hormones” (physiological parameter).
hypothalamus, a site of nutrient sensing in the brain.1 The principle        Eating habits are determined by geography, culture, religion and
seems to be simple: ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a kind of       social status. With globalization, the variety of available food increases
“energy currency” in biological systems, is elevated by the intake of      constantly and changes our eating habits. Are there downsides to all
Hoodia. Consequently, the brain signals: “enough energy is available;      this choice? Today, the situation is complicated. On the one hand, we
caloric intake can be reduced.” Considering that nutrition is not just     can eat more healthily than ever before, thanks to the all-year access to
energy intake, but also represents the building blocks for regeneration,   fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. On the other hand, people in Europe
for metabolic catalysts (enzymes that need trace elements as               suffer from a lack of trace elements, vitamins and essential fatty acids
cofactors), hormones and neurotransmitters, a complex network has          that may result in impaired mental performance or mood disorders.2,3
to be controlled — and imbalances may have a significant impact.           One possible cause of the deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins may be the
  Thus, it may be surprising to learn that the influence of appropriate    increasing consumption of fat-reduced food.
nutrition on mental health and performance is only                                                  Because such mental impairment develops
just becoming established. When I was a child,                                                   slowly, one cannot perceive the lack of acuity until
I was forced to take a spoonful of cod liver oil                                                 a severe loss of function occurs or the person falls
every day to prevent rickets, caused by vitamin
                                                       We need tO                                ill. And even then, a deficit of essential nutrients is
D deficiency. At the time, I hated this (and was       invest mOre                               rarely considered. Figure 2 illustrates a selection of
envious of friends who could take their vitamins                                                 mental dysfunctions that are thought to be caused
as a yummy syrup!); but today, I am grateful to my     time and                                  by nutritional imbalances.
parents because they guaranteed me a constant
                                                       resOurces in                                 Recent research has revealed that several
supply of omega-3 fatty acids, which have no                                                     nutritional disorders seem to be “programmed
doubt have been helpful for my development.            telling an                                in early foetal development and childhood.” To
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