Home > Diet and nutrition > News Updated 20 May 2014 How your weight influences your brain Does being over- or under weight influence how your brain works? DietDoc takes a closer look. 1 Related The obese personality Why the world is getting fatter and fatter ADHD, obesity and food allergies in kids Vit & Min doses per day » Count calories in food » Is my vegetarian diet balanced? » Ask The Dietitians » 10 foods to boost your immune system Your quick guide to Banting In the second part of my series on factors which influence how efficiently our brains work, we consider the factors of being either under- or overweight.Read Part 1: Can the right foods during pregnancy make your child smarter?Over- and underweightBoth imbalances in body weight have an effect on brain function, but being underweight - either induced by starvation due to economic consequences, famines and other disasters, or self-induced by eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, has been identified as a factor that can cause major damage. Read: Anorexics and the obese are wired differentlyUnderweight and disordered eatingThe deficiencies of total energy in the form of glucose to fuel the brain, of omega-3 fatty acids EPA ad DHA which are the building blocks of the brain and CNS, and of protein, plus all the vitamins and minerals which influence the smooth function of the nervous system and its control centre, the brain, all hamper normal function. Read: Omega-3 fatty acids are great for helping kids learnTo address these serious deficiencies of the vital nutrients that contribute to nervous system functioning, it is essential that patients with any type of disordered eating (anorexia nervosa, bulimia, orthorexia), should be assisted to start eating a balanced diet that provides adequate quantities of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids and a full complement of vitamins and minerals.This is one of the reasons that patients with eating disorders should be under the care of a registered dietitian who is aware of the importance of not just restoring food intake, but of redressing the serious imbalances of the patient’s previous diet.Overweight and the brainAlthough there is some indication that the inflammatory processes associated with being overweight and obese may play a role in how the brain functions, we are not yet sure to what extent being overweight influences brain efficiency. We are all aware that some overweight and obese patients tend to be depressed, but researchers are working on trying to unravel if the patients become depressed because of being overweight and eating an unbalanced diet, or if the depression is the trigger that causes the overweight. Read: The link between diet, obesity and depressionWe are aware of the ‘self-medication’ that many patients use to lift their mood by eating certain foods (chocolates, sweets and other sugary foods) thus increasing their serotonin levels (see below), but the interplay of cause-and-effect between brain function and overweight remains to be fully elucidated.Now read: The foods neurotransmitters need to transmit signals between the brain and nervous system. Read more:Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with cognitive and brain impairments in adolescentsIt's a fact: The obese brain craves high kilojoule foodsHow your diet affects your brain functionAsk Dr Ingrid, aka DietDoc, questions about diet and nutritionReferences: (Escott-Stump S (2014). No-Nonsense Nutrition for a Healthy Brain. Paper presented at: Nutritional Solutions CNE Event, Johannesburg, 11 April 2014; Zeisel SH, Da Costa K-A (2009). Choline: An essential nutrient for public health. Nutrition Reviews, Vol 67(11):615-623.)Image: The obese brain, Shutterstock NEXT ON HEALTH24X Hydration: how much is too much? 2018-08-30 11:00 More: Diet and nutritionNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 1 comment Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Medical Dagga use tied to serious diabetes complication Diet and nutrition Cold brew vs iced coffee: What’s the difference? Medical My illness doesn’t define me, says happy diabetic Medical Postpartum depression may raise heart risks Medical This is why it's so hard to quit smoking News Cholera case reported in Limpopo, patient recovering From our sponsors Dementia and Incontinence: what you need to know Tell-tale signs you need a mattress upgrade Keen to win a R2 000 voucher? Good health begins in your gastrointestinal tract Live healthier Quit smoking » How to beat triggers that make you crave a cigarette You need to learn how to beat the behavioural, environmental and emotional triggers if you want to succeed in quitting smoking. Hygiene » Your showerhead may be bathing you in germs You probably think showering will wash away dirt and germs, but your showerhead might dump nasty bacteria on you instead that may cause lung infections.