I have studied nutrition my entire life. My mother was very health conscious and had little to go on as far as media was concerned. She was intelligent and studious. She was always looking for updated nutritional information. Even though we were very different in many ways, we were alike in this. She avidly read monthly publications and world books. If she wasn’t cooking or cleaning or getting ready to go to church, she was reading, quite often about health. As a young child I learned that the food that we eat has a powerful ability to change us for good or bad. The decision is ours. Which way will we bend that fact? Will we make our lives better or worse?
Neuroscience Supports This Fact
In “The Edge Effect” by Eric R. Braverman, M.D., there is a wealth of knowledge concerning the healing power of food. Different foods affect our mental state profoundly. I have experimented on myself with Dr. Braverman’s information for years. It has proven to be true. I will elaborate on some of these foods that have the ability to alter our moods. This information has proven itself to the point that I know that if I am dealing with anxiety, then I probably need to eat oats… seriously. They contain GABA, a naturally calming neurotransmitter and I don’t dare eat them if I want to stay awake. They will knock me out! They’re great just before bed or even in the morning if I’m dealing with issues that cause anxiety. I just don’t eat them when I know that staying alert is mandatory. In this stress filled season that we are entering, I started eating my oats again!
Just Calm Down
Almonds are another GABA food. Again, I don’t eat them if I need to stay awake. If I’m in a situation where I can relax and alertness is not mandatory, I eat them. Mind you, everyone’s brain chemistry is different. If you are deficient in GABA, they may not affect you the same. These are general guidelines concerning the neurotransmitters that some foods contain. It’s up to you to decide how they affect you after you are aware of they’re presence in your food. Bananas, brown rice, broccoli, potatoes, spinach and walnuts are all rich sources of this calming elixir. You may notice that some foods are sources of more than one neurotransmitter. That’s as it should be. You will only find rich sources of these chemicals in real food. Man made garbage masquerading as food will supply small amounts of various nutrients but can never compete with whole foods.
Dopamine is an energy boosting neurotransmitter that is made up primarily of two amino acids, phenylalanine and tyrosine. Dopamine comes primarily from protein sources. It fights fatigue and provides focus and clarity of thought. Think about how you feel if you eat a high protein breakfast, meat and eggs, compared to a high carbohydrate escapade, donuts or sweet, manufactured cereal or sweet rolls. Just say “NO!” to those “free” continental breakfasts on vacay that start your day with sugar and white flour. That is no way to enjoy that vacation that you’ve worked so hard to get. Instead, pay for eggs and meat and maybe a whole grain carbohydrate source such as whole grain, unsweetened or slightly sweetened, cereals such as oats or whole grain toast. This single serving of oats combined with a good dose of protein won’t make you lethargic. The fiber in the oats will bind to the protein to keep you full for hours! Keep the focus on your protein source and just add a single serving of carbohydrates. Your day will be so much better. Good Dopamine boosting foods include eggs, chicken,cottage cheese,pork, walnuts, yogurt and oats.
Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that makes us creative. Some personalities, artists, writers and musicians are naturally high in this neurotransmitter. Most other people have just enough to get by. That’s why the “creative types” may seem a little odd to some people. Biologically speaking, the very thing that gives them their gift also makes them a little different. If you have a big project that requires creativity and you’re just not feelin’ it, I suggest that you try some of these Acetylcholine boosting foods. Again, I have experimented on myself with everything that I talk about. Unless you are allergic to one of these foods, then food is not going to hurt you so what have you got to lose by trying some of these tweaks to your day? When I went back to college at the age of 35, I chugged black coffee with boiled eggs on my way to class and excelled, making an A in Microbiology under a teacher who was known to not give A’s. I would not be denied. I manipulated my ability to focus with food. I worked a full time job and I was the only person who got an A on my lab book who didn’t copy one from a previous class. This works for me. Eggs contain choline, a building block for Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is largely responsible for brain speed, which slows in dementia. Since it keeps our brains running at top speed, it will help with testing and project deadlines. Unless your physician tells you differently, eat your eggs! Other Acetylcholine boosting foods are beef, Cod, Salmon and Talapia fish, pork, broccoli and almonds.
Oh my goodness…Serotonin…yes, Serotonin. There are many things that can burn out our serotonin and when it’s low, you know it. Nothing is fun. Life is dreary. You will have fallen into the “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” persona. Burning the candle at both ends, over-doing and too much partying will deplete this wonderful chemical. We say that we have become “desensitized” and nothing really turns us on and we’ve just lost interest in so many things. Serotonin burn-out is a misery. High serotonin makes a person responsive to stimuli of all sorts. A good illustration of what serotonin does is that when it is too high, you get mania, as in bi-polar mania, where you feel like King/Queen of The Universe. A little bit of that feeling makes for a good life however. We all want to feel really good about ourselves and our lives and Serotonin will do the trick if we are running low. Serotonin boosting foods include (guess what?) eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, avocados, pork, turkey and wild game.
This is a bare bones tutorial on the ability that we have to manipulate our thinking and mood with food. If this seems like something that you are interested in, I may dive deeper into this subject. We really do have the Power to determine our state of mind. It takes work, but it is possible and food is a powerful tool in that pursuit. Eat up! ;-*