Feeding Your Brain
As a typical college student, I suffer from daily stresses, lack of sleep and lack of a proper diet. I have pulled countless all nighters; my body and brain fueled only by coffee, chocolate and pizza, in order finish a paper or study for an exam. As a result, I may have done better on the paper or test, but I was being very unkind to my body and brain. In terms of nutrition, it is important to think of the brain as just another organ in the body. The food and other substances we put into our bodies affect our behavior, mood, thoughts and emotions. The brain responds very quickly to proper nutrition. However, as a college student who dines daily in the dining hall, I most likely do not get the nutrients needed to maximize my brain potential. In this paper, I'm going to take you through a day of brain friendly meals and explain why our brains and bodies need more than coffee, chocolate and pizza to thrive and survive.
Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 glass of orange juice and yogurt with fresh blueberries
Most people consume a high carbohydrate breakfast of cereal, toast or pancakes after a night's sleep because the body craves those types of food when its blood sugar level is low. However, meals high in carbohydrates increase the brain's level of the amino acid tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels. Glucose from the digested carbohydrates causes the body to secret insulin. Insulin tells cells to pull amino acids, except tryptophan, out of the blood stream for storage. So, tryptophan keeps circulating and is available for neurons that use it to make serotonin. Serotonin is a calming neurotransmitter that makes you feel relaxed and satisfied. Serotonin is an essential neurotransmitter for a well-balanced mood, but a relaxed state right after breakfast is not usually desirable (4).
Eggs and Yogurt: A breakfast full of complex proteins (proteins that contain high amounts of amino acids), such as eggs and yogurt, energize instead of relax the body. The proteins raise the level of the amino acid tyrosine in the blood and brain. If more tyrosine is present, the body's neurons will produce more norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter that makes you feel motivated, alert and able to concentrate. It is also necessary for the brain to form new memories and to transfer memories from short term to long-term storage. Dopamine is also a neurotransmitter associated with activity and fine muscle coordination and aids in healthy assertiveness, autonomic nervous system and immune system functions. Dopamine levels can be depleted by lack of sleep and high stress. So, it is important replenish dopamine levels with a protein packed breakfast after a hard night of studying (4).
Eggs yolks contain a high amount of lecithin, which contains the fat like substance choline. Choline belongs to the Vitamin B family and is needed to metabolize fats. It is also the primary building block of...