Food for Thought: Your Diet Impacts Your Brain Function
As a sports nutritionist who works with professional and competitive athletes, including tennis players, I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks that give my clients an edge. An in my 10-plus years of practice, not a week goes by that we don’t learn more about how particular foods and nutrients help the body operate like a well-oiled machine. Each one of your body’s 100 trillion cells relies solely on what you eat and drink to fuel your performance and help you recover. And while sports nutrition isn’t an exact science, there are plenty of tried and true techniques every tennis player should know.
The 20 Things You Need to Know About Nutrition
1. Your Diet Impacts Your Brain Function
A new study has confirmed what nutritionists long suspected—your diet can impact how your brain functions. The animal study conducted by scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle looked at the short- and long-term effects on the brains of rodents fed a typical American diet. Within the first three days, the rats downed nearly double their usual daily calorie intakes, and not only did the animals gain weight, they also developed inflammation in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body weight. They experienced changes typically associated with brain injuries such as stroke and multiple sclerosis. Scientists say the study points to the notion that the overconsumption of a classic western diet can lead to brain changes that create a domino effect that may impact weight regulation. Ditch the processed stuff loaded with refined carbs, added sugar and salt, fried stuff and fatty animal products, and load up on fruits veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and plant based fats. Even if you don’t eat less, it’s quality that counts.
**1. Your Diet Impacts Your Brain Function
2. The Right Breakfast Fights Hunger All Day 3. Food Can Fight Pain 4. Don’t Run on Empty 5. Sleep Matters … A Lot 6. Omega-3s Are Beyond Essential 7. Milk Does More Than Double Duty 8. Don’t Get Fooled by the Afterburn Myth 9. Organic Food is Worth the Extra Money 10. Alcohol May Weaken Muscle 11. Relying on the Sun for Vitamin D May Be a Mistake 12. Spices are a Secret Weapon 13. Chocolate is a Key Superfood 14. Buyer Beware When it Comes to Supplements 15. A Little Vitamin C Makes a Big Difference 16. Variety Trumps Quantity for Fruits & Veggies 17. Drinking Water May Help You Lose Weight 18. Bacteria Are Critical to Your Health 19. Calcium Isn’t Just for Strong Bones 20. Let an Expert Personalize Your Plan<strong>**</strong>
Originally published in the January/February 2012 issue of TENNIS.
How Loneliness Can Affect Brain Function
Source: NoName_13/ Pixabay
In 1995, Baumeister and Leary wrote, “the need to belong is a powerful, fundamental and extremely pervasive motivation” for the social beings we humans are. When we cannot connect with others, when we feel disconnected from other humans, we feel loneliness.
Loneliness affects more than our emotional responses; it can and does affect our physical bodies. In a large meta-analysis that included more than 300,000 individuals, researchers reported that having social connections with others created a 50 percent greater likelihood of survival compared to lonely, disconnected individuals. (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, and Layton, 2010)
Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a poll comparing reported loneliness in adults between 2018 and 2023. They found that as the COVID pandemic began to necessitate social isolation, rates of loneliness increased, peaking in June 2020 when 56 percent of adults reported feeling lonely. As the pandemic eased and socializing became possible again, rates began to decline to almost pre-pandemic levels. (National Poll on Healthy Aging, 2023)
However, social isolation is not the only cause of loneliness. It is possible to be surrounded by other people, and yet still feel lonely. Because making strong social connections depends on feeling understood by other people, one of the root causes of loneliness is feeling misunderstood by others (Morelli, Torre and Eisenberger, 2014). So, why would people feel misunderstood? Perhaps lonely individuals are seeing the world in a different way than others.
To find out, Baek et al. (2014) set out to examine what they called the Anna Karenina principle, an idea inspired by author Leo Tolstoy’s famous opening lines in Anna Karenina about happy and unhappy families. Perhaps people who are not lonely share a common understanding of the world and the people around them while lonely people see the world in their own, individual, idiosyncratic ways, out of sync with others, and leaving them less able to connect with others as well.
Baek et al. separated their volunteer participants into two groups on the basis of their responses to the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Hays and DiMatteo, 1987). Both groups of people watched short, naturalistic videos showing people interacting with one another in a variety of ways, while in an fMRI scanner.