Brain Food?

Brain food.
Having recently read Gary Taubes' excellent book on the obesity epidemic "Good Calories, Bad Calories", I was inspired to revisit my old habit of eating a "paleo" diet.  Although this sounds like something exotic, at the core of this nutritional approach is a low-carb, high-fat/protein philosophy that is inspired by interpretations of how our evolutionary, paleolithic ancestors may have dined: hunting meat in large quantities, supported by gathering of fruit, nuts and tubers.  I don't have the energy to go into to detail about the diet, but feel free to see Mark Sisson's introduction to the subject.

During the course of eating this way, I've become curious about the nature of the "ideal" diet for brain function.  Does the brain require certain types of fuel to function, as has been reported. Or, can the brain operate on a number of energetic substrates (ketone bodies, lactate, glucose)?  Beyond function, does the brain function optimally in the presence of particular nutrients?  Furthermore, does optimal function translate to long term health or are these outcome mutually exclusive?

These questions of nutrition and brain function will be a recurring theme here on the Happy Homunculus moving forward.  I hope to explore the evolutionary roots of our big brains and the food that may have supported our modern intelligence.  I also hope to explore the effects of food on the brain with the hope to figure out the "ideal" approach to feeding that hungry hunk of meat.

From a personal perspective, I've been eating very low carb for a few months now and have confirmed that I've been in ketosis using KetoStix testing strips (I'm a nerd).  During this time I've been as productive, if not more so, than before I started eating paleo again.  This one-subject mini-experiment certainly calls into question the need for excessive carbohydrates for normal brain function, but I'm hardly the first to question this philosophy.  Moving forward, I'm excited to learn more about how the engines of the brain function, and how to keep them running smoothly.

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