Ingredient in many popular Asian dishes discovered to promote brain health

Any defect in neurons can have a significant impact on the integrity and function of your nervous system. As per one study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, an edible species of seaweed called Gracilariopsis chorda can promote the growth of neurites and preserve the integrity of your neurons, lowering your risk of developing neurological disorders as a result.

Neurons, the cells that make up the different parts of the nervous system – including the nerves and your brain – have a very distinct structure and appearance. Protruding from the neuron’s main body are the so-called neurites, specifically, the dendrites and the axon.

The dendrites are branched extensions that receive electrochemical signals from other neural cells. The signals go to the neuron’s main body and then proceed to the axon, a long, slender, tail-like projection that channels signals to terminals where they will be transmitted to the dendrites of the next neurons. This process is quick and efficient and occurs for every stimuli or sensation you sense or experience.

Defects or problems in your neurites can have severe consequences. Changes to the dendrites, for example, are linked to the occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

G. chorda was shown in previous inquiries to have neuroprotective effects, prompting the researchers to investigate its ability to promote the growth neurite extension. They treated cultured hippocampal neurons from rats with various concentrations of the seaweed’s ethanolic extracts and observed for any developments in the cells’ morphology.

The researchers reported that the extract enhanced neurite outgrowth in a concentration-dependent manner, with the ideal concentration being 30 micrograms per milliliter (mcg/mL). In particular, the extract promoted neuronal differentiation and enhanced the integrity of both axon and dendrites.

Arachidonic acid had previously been identified as G. chorda’s active component. The researchers noted that treating hippocampal neurons with isolated arachidonic acid yielded results similar to what were observed from the treatment with G. chorda.

Because of these findings, the researchers concluded that G. chorda and its active component, arachidonic acid, can be used as a medicinal food for preventing neurological conditions.

How to take care of your nerves through diet

Eating the right food is one of the best and most effective ways to care for your nerves and, by extension, your entire nervous system. These nutrients are essential for your nerves’ optimal health:

  • Folic acid – Also known as folate or vitamin B9, this nutrient is important in brain development, particularly in infants. However, it also benefits adults by preventing neural defects and repairing damaged nerves, both in the brain and the spinal cord. To obtain the optimal intake of 400 mcg (for adults) of vitamin B9, you need to consume foods that contain a lot of it. These include green and leafy vegetables, eggs, and legumes.
  • Cobalamin – This is yet another B-vitamin – vitamin B12 – which is essential for nerve health. It helps maintain nerve control to your heart, helping ensure proper heartbeats and a functional cardiovascular function. Vitamin B12 cannot be found in plants and is available only in meat products, such as fatty fish and poultry, as well as dairy products. Unfortunately, your body’s ability to absorb cobalamin may diminish with age. This is why adults older than 50 are often required to take supplements to maintain a healthy intake of this nutrient.
  • Alpha lipoic acid – This antioxidant is known to offer relief from discomfort caused by nerve damage, particularly, diabetic peripheral neuropathy. It is almost exclusively available in supplement form, although you may obtain it in small amounts from natural sources like tomatoes, spinach, yams, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Phosphatidyl choline – This molecule is available in supplement form but may be obtained from the lecithin in soy and egg yolks. Apart from promoting proper nerve function, it also forms acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that helps keep your brain active and your muscles and internal organs functional.

Go to and discover how you can effectively care for your nervous system.

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