Nutrition above the Neck: Nutrigenomics, Diet, and Brain Health

Nutrition above the Neck: Nutrigenomics, Diet, and Brain Health

The Wall Street Journal once reported that multivitamin supplements could pose greater risks than benefit, even implying a risk of death. Well... there might be some reasons to be cautious like high-doses or perhaps poor absorbability [1]. But contributing towards mortality? Not so fast. 

As we’ll learn, at least for Americans, multivitamin (i.e. broad spectrum) supplementation may literally be essential for healthy living, especially brain health. The novel field of ‘nutrigenomics’ points to deficiencies in the race against cognitive health disorders: those degenerative, genetic, and behavioral [2-3]. 

There’s at least two leading reasons at play. The first one being the widespread use of pesticides; and the second – an unnerving proportion of diet coming from ‘ultra-processed’ foods.

Processing and Pesticides: Reduced Nutrition?

One of the most common pesticides, glyphosate, is present by at least one report in 97% of all of U.S. agricultural soil. In any concentration, this pesticide is known to reduce nutrient availability in produce, sequestering essential vitamin, mineral, and healthy phytocompounds [4-5].

We have less nutrient density than nature intended, and secondly, the growing majority (~62%) of caloric intake – in America and other high income countries – is in the form of ‘ultra-processed’ foods [6].

Besides basic caloric value, these are foods which are largely empty of essential nutrition. Reports explain a likely connection beyond nutritional deficiencies and common diseases like obesity, metabolic syndromes [6].

Big problems for ‘nutrition above the neck’ are also being unveiled, previously a little-reported consequence of poor diet [2,3,5].

Nutrition Above The Neck: Diet and Cognitive Health

There is a thought provoking parallel between these modern dietary conditions and starvation. Going without adequate food can lead to behavioral conditions like depression, anxiety, and attention disorders. People may not technically be starving, but there are both broad and acute deficiencies [7-8].

Our cellular machinery yearns for diverse nutrition. Deficiencies of trace minerals, and vitamins like B-complex, omega fatty acids, and vitamin D are likely at play behind negative mental states and certain behavioral conditions [2-3].

Dietary Deficiencies and Mental Health

At least, nutrigenomics holds factors of diet with special responsibility in the genetics of cognitive health. It’s thought where inadequate diet may exacerbate existing conditions, specialized supplementation may also be a tool to symptom management.

And even where genetics may be unclear, those with observable symptoms (e.g. outbursts, poor concentration) show promise with broad spectrum supplements [2-3], sometimes yielding rapid improvements. Diet might be one root cause behind cognitive health issues.

Seeking Balanced Diet through Whole-Foods

It takes a balanced approach to fuel your health. Since diet has a lot to do with that process it’s relevant to consider what you eat. We won’t say no to guilty pleasures, but it’s smart to ask: what part of your diet comes from processed foods?

One of the easiest ways to get around this is by choosing whole foods whenever possible. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes are examples. Also, by opting for more organic produce, you may be able to avoid nutrient discrepancies from pesticides.

Granted, there is limited evidence about added nutritional value of organic produce, it’s a safe choice because you’re not as subjected to harmful agrichemicals. And together with whole food eating, we may better replenish our bodies. 

The Bottom Line

To keep things simple, you might consider anti-inflammatory food choices, many which have a basis in the mediterranean diet. Researchers point to a correlation between these foods and reduced instances of common mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

It’s plausible that this may be due to improvements to existing deficiencies, because of the balanced nature of whole food eating. But for added support, you might also consider a daily multivitamin from a trusted brand, and strive to ‘eat the rainbow.’ 

Alongside these recommendations, matcha tea can help you cross ‘green’ off your daily food groups. Remember, since matcha is grown under precise conditions, unlike other teas, it boasts concentrated vitamins and minerals, and is a surprising source of essential amino-acids.

There are also reports that matcha may help mental health, such as resistant depression, but in the case of these conditions there are no known cures. 

Instead, each of these practices may simply help to meet the needs of regular health – to help feel happier and healthier. So be sure to see where they might fit into your own take on a healthy diet.

-Team Matcha Kari



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[1] Sekhri, K., & Kaur, K. (2014). Public knowledge, use and attitude toward multivitamin supplementation: A cross-sectional study among general public. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, 4(2), 77.[1] Musial, C., Kuban-Jankowska, A., & Gorska-Ponikowska, M. (2020). Beneficial Properties of Green Tea Catechins. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(5), 1744.
[2] Kaplan, B. J., Isaranuwatchai, W., & Hoch, J. S. (2017). Hospitalization cost of conventional psychiatric care compared to broad-spectrum micronutrient treatment: literature review and case study of adult psychosis. International journal of mental health systems, 11(1), 14.
[3] Rucklidge, J. J., & Kaplan, B. J. (2013). Broad-spectrum micronutrient formulas for the treatment of psychiatric symptoms: a systematic review. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 13(1), 49-73.
[4] Zobiole, L. H. S., de Oliveira, R. S., Huber, D. M., Constantin, J., de Castro, C., de Oliveira, F. A., & de Oliveira, A. (2010). Glyphosate reduces shoot concentrations of mineral nutrients in glyphosate-resistant soybeans. Plant and Soil, 328(1-2), 57-69.
[5] Cakmak, I., Yazici, A., Tutus, Y., & Ozturk, L. (2009). Glyphosate reduced seed and leaf concentrations of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and iron in non-glyphosate resistant soybean. European Journal of Agronomy, 31(3), 114-119.
[6] Poti, J. M., Braga, B., & Qin, B. (2017). Ultra-processed food intake and obesity: What really matters for health—processing or nutrient content?. Current obesity reports, 6(4), 420-431.
[7] Blumberg, J. B., Frei, B., Fulgoni, V. L., Weaver, C. M., & Zeisel, S. H. (2017). Contribution of dietary supplements to nutritional adequacy in various adult age groups. Nutrients, 9(12), 1325.
[8] Sekhri, K., & Kaur, K. (2014). Public knowledge, use and attitude toward multivitamin supplementation: A cross-sectional study among general public. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, 4(2), 77.