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You Are What You Eat

You are what you eat…Science is believing this.

When it comes to food everyone is uniquely a gastronome. Many of us munch on spicy, savory, fatty, junk foods like burgers, fritters, and stuff like that. Most of us have their sweet tooth enhanced a bit more so they crave for cakes, jams, chocolates and sugary, fizzy drinks. Then are the diet-conscious ones who eat by counting calories and just minimal to stay alive. Some people prefer having a balanced diet full of essential nutrients like the Mediterranean diet.

Why you eat food?

Utterly to live.

To gain the energy to cope with the daily challenges.

Because it’s our body’s demand.

These answers surely pop up in our minds when such sort of question is asked.

Surprisingly our food choices also have a profound impact on our thoughts, our behaviors, our social interactions even on our decision-making capabilities.

Let’s understand this food-mood connection and the influence of our food choices on our cognitive abilities via scientific rationale.

Impact of food on brain activity:

Our brain produces important chemicals called Neurotransmitters which are important mood regulators. Some of these for instance Serotonin and Gama-  aminobutyric acid (GABA) has a calming effect on our moods. Whereas Dopamine has a stimulatory effect and is responsible for many of “highs” you feel. To respond appropriately to any situation a right balance of various neurotransmitters is indispensable. The food you eat affects the neurotransmitters your brain produces.

Here’s how:

Amino acids are the founding chemical units of our neurotransmitters. Protein-rich foods i.e fish, eggs, meat, nuts, legumes, etc. provide our body with these essential amino acids moreover vitamins and minerals help convert amino acids to fully functional neurotransmitters which help regulate our moods.

Have a look at the relationship between neurotransmitters, mood and food:

  • Serotonin:

Is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep and body’s circadian rhythm. Tryptophan is the amino acid making serotonin in our body. Foods like fish, eggs, chicken and other meats have tryptophan in abundance. Minerals like iron, zinc and vitamins like B6, B3 and C facilitate the enzymatic reactions that convert tryptophan to serotonin.

  • GABA:

Is a neurotransmitter acting as a mood regulator having an inhibitory effect that stops neurons from becoming overexcited? Low levels of GABA cause anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. Amino acid Glutamine is the building block of GABA. Foods like legumes, brown rice, and spinach are rich in glutamine. Also, vitamins B3, B6, and B12 convert glutamine to GABA via various reactions.

  • Dopamine:

Is an important stimulatory neurotransmitter. It aids in learning, controls behavior, and coordinates movements. Our brain converts amino acid tyrosine found in proteins, dairy products, avocados, sesame seeds, almonds, etc. to dopamine.

Omega 3s (The crucial fats):

About 70% of our brain is composed of fats and 90 percent of the brain’s grey matter is fat i.e. rich in omega 3s. Our brain cannot make omega 3s on its own so we have to ingest it via diet. Omega 3s is pivotal for our brain’s normal development for maintaining balanced moods and for moderating aggressive behaviors.

Foods like freshwater fish (salmon, tuna), organ meat, vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc. provide our body with the crucial omega-3s. According to brain researchers, omega -3s fish oils ease depression and lower suicide risk.

Wrong EATING HABITS ruin our brains:

Our inclination towards fast-food meals, junk foods, starchy processed foods, sugary foods, and soft drinks not only has an increased tendency towards obesity and hypertension but also leads to anxiety, depression, aggression, and impulsive behaviors. Fried foods like fried chicken, fries, burgers, packaged microwave meals are high in sugars, and unhealthy trans- fats which suppress omega -3s activity in our bodies.

Similarly, soft drinks containing high amounts of sugars and caffeine interfere with blood sugar levels and promote negative feelings, anxiety, and agitation.

Scientific studies investigating the impact of nutrition on brain health:

Scientists at the University of Melbourne, Australia examine the behaviors of babies after following the eating habits of 23000 pregnant women. They found out that mothers who ate more junk and processed foods had their children with more aggressive behaviors and are prone to stress. A study in British prison found that the inmates who took vitamin supplements were less prone to violent behaviors.

A psychologist at the University of Lubeck, Germany has shown that social behavior is influenced by ingredients consumed at breakfast. And the list of studies on neuro-nutrition and impacts of food choices on cognitive abilities is inexhaustible.

Mediterranean diet…The good diet:

The Mediterranean diet comprising of olive oil, seafood (fish), legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, herbs, fruits, whole grains, beans, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and limited intake of red meat proves to be a delicious and healthy way of eating. These kinds of foods ensure sound physical as well as mental nourishment and are the dire need of our brain.

 

So, whenever you feel edgy, anxious, aggressive, impulsive, depressed, or sad think of what you are feeding to your mind and body. Likewise, your body your brain, and emotions need to be fed with the best.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Sahar Hanif

    Yes. I m agreed with u

  2. Anonymous

    A much needed piece of writing ! Moreover the way of writing is so good MashAllah. More power to you Ramiza! Hoping to read more from you. 🙂

  3. Aleena Irfan

    A much needed piece of writing ! Moreover the way of writing is so good MashAllah. More power to you Ramiza! Hoping to read more from you. 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    Great informative blog?

  5. Anonymous

    Thanks for appreciation?

  6. Mohtashim Asif

    Great!??

  7. Nida Tariq

    Woah! An amazing piece of writing. More power to you girl.

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