The hypothalamus is the area of the brain responsible for hormone production. Hormones released from the hypothalamus help control body temperature, hunger and thirst sensations, mood swings, sex drive, sleep and heart rate. These regulatory hormones can be disrupted by infection and injury, and they can also be affected by genetics. Adequate nutrition is essential for supporting each role of the hypothalamus. Include omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants such as vitamin C, coffee, tea and vitamins B-1 and B-12 as part of a diet for a healthy brain.
Choose Healthy Fats
According to Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, you should consume omega-3 fatty acids as part of a healthy diet to protect your brain and arteries. These fatty acids are crucial in infant development, and later in life they promote memory and cognitive skills. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has produced positive results with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and Alzheimer's disease. Choose foods such as salmon, cod, walnuts, avocados, flaxseed and olive oil to reap the benefits of these fatty acids.
Power Up with Vegetables
The antioxidants found in vegetables can also support your hypothalamus. Antioxidants repair free radical damage to cells that may contribute to the progression of brain disease. A review article published in "The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging" in August 2012 suggests at least three vegetable servings a day to reduce the risk of brain disease. Foods high in the antioxidant vitamin C promote brain function as you age. To include antioxidants in your diet, add spinach, onions, tomatoes and other vegetables to salads, soups and sandwiches.
Beverage Brain Boost
Drinking a hot beverage as part of a morning routine is common for over half of Americans. Caffeine in these beverages acts as a quick pick-me-up by blocking adenosine and telling your brain it's time to wake up. Research has shown that coffee and tea support the function of the hypothalamus. Drinking at least three cups of caffeinated coffee a day has been shown to decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease. As for tea, it contains the amino acid theanine, which has been linked to improved attention span.
Don't Forget Vitamin B
Making sure that you get enough B vitamins is also essential for supporting the function of your hypothalamus. Lack of vitamin B-1, or thiamine, can contribute to decreased mental capacity. Enriched rice or cereal, pork and legumes are rich sources of thiamine. Vitamin B-12 is necessary for protecting the myelin sheath around nerve cells, including those in the brain. Without enough of this nutrient, there is the potential for brain damage, memory loss and disorientation. Natural sources of vitamin B-12 include milk, eggs, chicken, salmon and beef.
- MedlinePlus: Hypothalamus
- Cleveland Clinic: Food for Brain Health
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Neurology Now: Brain Food
- The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging: Fruit, Vegetables and Prevention of Cognitive Decline or Dementia: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies
- Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University: Vitamin C
- CBS News: Caffeine Nation
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University: Vitamin B12