Yesterday we saw how God graciously provides sufficient and suitable food for our bodies. But do you know which organ of your body has the most dietary requirements? The brain! The brain requires 20% of our oxygen, 20% of our carbs, and 50% of available glucose to do its job. Over the last 10-15 years, research has increasingly shown the impact of diet on our intellectual capacities and abilities.

  • Studies have shown that skipping breakfast reduces cognitive performance because it deprives the brain of the nutrients, vitamins and glucose that breakfast supplies.
  • In a 2003 study, children who ate lots of sugar and fizzy drinks in their breakfast diet, performed at the same cognitive level of the average 70-year-old in attention and memory tests. Toast, on the other hand, boosted kids cognitive scores.
  • Salads are packed full of antioxidants that eliminate damaging materials from the brain.
  • Fish oil contains good fat which helps develop brains and ward of dementia by up to 3-4 years.
  • Blueberries and strawberries boost short-term memory, focus, and coordination.
  • Avocados increase oxygen and blood supply to the brain (and lower blood pressure)
  • Eating a healthy diet slows age-related memory loss. For example, eggs are rich in choline which your body uses to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps improve memory and alertness.

Chemical cars
In that last stat, I mentioned neurotransmitters. What are they? These are chemicals that our brain uses to process our thoughts. Imagine your brain is like a road system, with many different highways, bridges and tunnels. Neurotransmitters are like the cars that carry our thoughts around the brain. There are about 14-15 different “models” or types of these neurotransmitters; and just like cars they depend on fuel. That’s where food comes in. If our diet is healthy, these “cars” multiply in number and efficiency. In other words, what we eat affects what we think.

Thus, God answers “Give us this day our daily bread” not only by giving sufficient and suitable food for physical life but also for intellectual life. How we should praise Him for providing so abundantly for all our needs, and also for matching our bodies and minds to this food. Each human brain has more switches in it than all the computers in the world. (Yes, your brain too.) What an incredibly complex organ, and yet God fuels it by what we put in our mouths at breakfast, lunch, etc. Truly we are awesomely and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).

Re-fuel and re-start
But, of course, as it is the most complex organ in the body, its functioning has also been affected by the fall and the divine curse on our bodies. Just like our kidneys, pancreas, heart, liver, etc., the chemistry in our brains also sometimes goes awry, sometimes affecting the way we think. Though this is still frontier medicine, doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists can help us with diet and medication to re-balance that chemistry, or we could say “re-fuel and re-start” our chemical cars. How we should praise God for this science, and also prayerfully encourage those who are trying to advance knowledge and expertise in this complex area.

This prayer also implies human responsibility. We can’t expect our minds to function well, if we are stuffing our faces with junk. And remember, God works through our minds; He does us spiritual good by imparting truth through our brains. Thus, if we are not caring for our brain by giving it sufficient and suitable fuel, that will ultimately damage our spiritual lives as well.

  • Sonia VanderMeyden Wielhouwer

    Thanks Dr. Murray for the post on “brain food.” So important…we all need to be more conscious of what we are putting in our stomachs and how it will affect the most important organ – the brain. GOD is an awesome GOD!

  • Curtis

    It is so important that we make sure that we are feeding ourselves spiritually and not just physically. Great post!

  • Rob Marsh

    I’m curious, “if we are not caring for our brain by giving it sufficient and suitable fuel, that will ultimately damage our spiritual lives as well.” But then what about fasting?

  • David Murray

    Occasional and even regular fasting is not going to damage our spiritual lives. However, as the point of fasting was to provide time for prayer and meditation in a day when food preparation took a lot of time, I think the modern day equivalent would be to “fast” from technology!