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.