The human body is ridiculously receptive to our diet. From eyesight to energy, from weight to motor skills, what we eat affects all facets of our bodies. A healthy diet gives energy, helps develop lean muscle, and even enhances sex life. Conversely, a poor diet can have an ill effect on bodily functions.
Just as the rest of our bodies is influenced by diet, the brain is no exception. An extremely metabolically driven muscle, the brain constantly needs to be fed…and fed well. Proper diet can benefit memory, boost mood, relieve stress, enhance sensorimotor skills, and maybe even improve IQ.
BRAIN CHEMICAL BALANCE AND WEIGHT/CRAVINGS ISSUES
- Brain is where the life resides. It governs all aspects of health and emotions. It is like the circuit breaker box of the body—the brain generates and sends electric current throughout the body, fueling the internal systems and orchestrating health.
- There are four primary biochemicals that functions differently and determines the brain’s effectiveness by controlling a single aspect of the electricity transfer from brain to body. These chemicals can positively affect the weight but a deficiency in any of them can lead to food addictions, and then obesity.
- Every fruit, veggie, grain, protein or fat is a precursor to one of the brain chemicals. A better functioning brain frees people from food addictions, provides a stronger metabolism and leads to a thinner body.
DOPAMINE: creates brain power–voltage is the intensity at which the brain instructs the body to work. Dopamine is the brain’s natural power source, which keeps us mentally and physically energized throughout the day.
~When we lack dopamine, metabolism slows down and unused fuel starts to bulk up in the form of body fat. The more dopamine we produce, the faster our metabolisms work and we burn more calories and turn less foods into body fat. ~Dopamine also controls how we quantify the feeling of satisfaction we experience when we eat—being able to walk away after one dessert or one glass of wine. Without the right amount of dopamine, the circuits in the brain does not relay the message that we are satisfied and full, and we keep eating, never emotionally or physically fulfilled with the food we ate. Low dopamine makes you crave caffeine and foods that will deliver an energy boost—high sugar, fast digesting carbs.
~ Dopamine works like a natural amphetamine, giving us power and controlling our energy. When there is a dopamine imbalance, body naturally increases production of cortisol for its energy needs, and we know what that does!
Dopamine deficiency can be corrected by teaching the brain to create more of this vital chemical.
~Eat the right foods to create dopamine:
*BROCCOLI, the best dopamine-enhancing food out there!
*Apples, spinach, carrots, egg whites, almonds, salmon and pomegranate juice.
*Spices: basil, black pepper, ginger, rosemary, sesame seeds, cumin, flaxseed, garlic, black and green tea.
~Remove foods that deplete the levels of dopamine: sugar, simple carbs and high glycemic goods.
~Exercise has been linked to stimulating the dopamine pleasure and satisfaction circuits. Dopamine-enhancing workout should feature aerobic activity followed by weight training as often as possible.
ACETYLCHOLINE: how fast electrical signals are processed from brain to body (speed) is controlled by acetylcholine, which provides lubricants and insulation for muscles, bones and other systems in the form of fat. If we don’t eat the right kind of fat, we crave foods high in the wrong kind of fats and it will make us fat. But if we eat high-acetylcholine foods, we reduce the need for bad fats.
Eating the perfect quantities of the right fats will crank up metabolism and increase amount of body fat burned during exercise.
~Eat the right kind of fats:
*monounsaturated fatty acids: olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and egg yolks.
*Polyunsaturated fatty acids: flax, fish oil, salmon, shrimp
~Eat foods with lecithin (nutrient used in the body to synthesize choline): cauliflower, egg yolds, live, milk, peanuts, soy beans, wheat germ
~Spices: sage, thyme, turmeric, allspice, basil, cumin and peppermint
~Aerobic activity can restore acetylcholine.
GABA: determines the pace at which the body and brain function. If GABA is low, we become unbalanced-poor impulse control, emotionally, physically and mentally “rocky”—need for comfort which we find in food—emotional eating, temper tantrums and overeating. Complex carbs are needed to keep your GABA balanced.
GABA is the brain’s calming agent, helps to regulate the nervous system and keeps all other brain chemicals connected. Living in stress or anxiety results in losing our sense of boundaries so that we crave large amounts of foods. Stress alters the way the brain contemplates the consequences of actions; GABA deficiency is connected to overeating and lack of portion control. High-GABA foods alleviate stress and enable us to have better portion control.
~Avoid simple sugars, refined products and white flours which will continue to establish a GABA imbalance.
~Eat fiber-rich foods and complex carbohydrates: beans, bran, brown rice, lentils, oatmeal, peas, whole wheat stuff, yams,
~Boost GABA with vitamin B foods: bananas, beans, broccoli, figs, grapefruit, halibut, lentils nuts, oranges, oats, spinach,
~Spices: caraway, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, lemongrass, oregano, paprika, poppy seeds
~GABA can be increased with Pilates and yoga.
SEROTONIN: determines the synchrony (balance of movement between the different brain waves). Serotonin is an Off switch, telling our bodies when to shut down and rest. When serotonin levels are normal, we get the restful sleep we need. Seretonin is also the brain chemical that allows us to experience pleasure and feel good about ourselves. Low levels of serotonin will alter our thinking, and then cause a host of food-related problems because of depression and lack of sleep.
If serotonin is low, leptin is low as well and the message that we are full doesn’t reach the brain.
~Eat foods high in tryptophan: amino acid needed for those with low serotonin because it induces the creation of this brain chemical: avocado, eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, chocolate, duck, egg, oats, turkey, yogurt, wheat germ
~Spices to increase serotonin: saffron, cinnamon, fennil, peppermint, marjoram, dill, nutmeg, turmeric
~ Physical movement helps to reset the brain and release serotonin.
When the four brain chemicals are produced at right levels, body can run efficiently on the energy it gets from food.
By increasing dopamine (power), you rev up the metabolism. –LEAN PROTEIN
By increasing acetylcholine (speed), you forgo the fat cravings.—GOOD FATS
By increasing GABA (rhythm), you get off t the obsessive/anxiety related eating pattern and develop portion control—COMPLEX CARBS.
By increasing serotonin (balance), you give yourself the rest you need. –REGULAR MEALS,TRYPTOPHAN
So.. DON’T deprive yourself from vital nutrients!!! Carbs are needed, protein is needed and fat is needed! By having balanced brain chemicals, you will avoid avoid the nasty cravings that lead to salt binging, sugar binging, carb binging, late night binging!
By the way, random information for you: Gum is your ally! Research shows that activity in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is critical for memory, increases while we chew.