What You Eat And At What Time, Can Influence How You Feel During The Different Stages Of The Day
Your body and brain require different nutrients at different times of the day, and when you know what they are, you can maximize your effectiveness.
As the day starts you need specific neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, as well as noradrenaline and nor epinephrine levels to rise. They give you the alertness and focus required to start your day off being wide-awake.
Interestingly, even while you are still sleeping, your levels of cortisol start rising, which is part of the reason that you wake when the sun rises. Your brain has been preparing you to wake up, by releasing hormones that will pilot you.
Low levels of these hormones, could be due to low levels of their precursors normally amino acids, two being particularly important, typically tyrosine and phenylalanine. Therefore, a breakfast with protein rich foods will ensure your feeling of alertness will extend into the late morning.
Consuming low fructose fruit and nuts, with a whole-grain cereal is a good start, as are some free-range eggs, with fresh tomatoes and herbs.
If you're not a breakfast person, think about a good, nutrient dense green drink, that has lots of natural vitamins and minerals in it, or a simple smoothie, with your choice of milk, a frozen banana, some frozen berries and nuts . It's easy to throw your Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) into this blend, and whiz up a creamy, tasty nutritious breakfast.
Having a mid morning snack, of a carbohydrate and a protein, such as an apple and some almonds, means that your blood glucose will remain stable, and you'll get some good fats and protein to keep your brain – and body, nourished till lunchtime.
As your brain is the most energy hungry organ in your body, you should remember to keep it well nourished, and supplied with the nutrients that will keep you feeling alert, and positive. Its primary source of fuel is carbohydrates, but it requires protein to produce the neurotransmitters that are the communicators between neurons, so if you run short on them, your neurons will battle to talk to each other, so you could end up being irritable, unable to focus, or learn, and of course your memory will suffer too.
Acetylcholine, is another important neurotransmitter, which is actually involved in forming memories, and it is made up of choline, which is found in eggs and lecithin, a derivative of soya beans, as well as peanuts, brussels sprouts, wild salmon, cauliflower and almonds, beef, and liver, although liver is not recommended, as the liver is the detoxifying organ of the body, and would there be a full of toxic compounds from the animal.
Choose organic animal products, for health reasons.
Lunch should combine of unrefined carbohydrates, wherever you choose a salad, or whole grain sandwich, just ensure you also have some good protein with them.
Choose either a vegetarian source of protein, such as legumes, or nuts, or an organic animal source. This is also a great time to add your EFA's as they will keep your blood sugar even until your afternoon snack, which should once again be a combination of unrefined, unprocessed carbohydrate and protein.
You may choose to snack on come sun dried tomatoes and macadamia nuts, or celery sticks and natural, uncolored hard cheese, but ensure you eat something nutritious before the afternoon slip hits you, and you reach for a junky chocolate instead.
If you choose to consume refined carbohydrates, you will end up having a high glucose, and a false sense of energy, followed soon after by an energy slump, when your blood glucose dips again, and you'll end up feeling fidgety, irritable, as well as tired, and unfocused.
This is when you end up reading a page, and wondering what you've just read, only to start at the beginning again. This is because your brain has run out of energy, due to your poor food choices.
Dinner should once again be a balanced meal, with wholesome, unrefined carbohydrates, good, clean protein, and should be consumed before 7pm.
When your stomach is full, trying to digest its contents, your sleep will not be restored and rejuvenating.
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for helping you feel calm and relaxed is released when you consume foods that contain tryptophan. However, the other amino acids in these protein rich foods compete with the uptake of tryptophan into the brain, so you may not get enough of the tryptophan into your brain to get converted into serotonin. Tryptophan containing foods are avocadoes, cottage cheese, almonds, eggs and turkey. Remember, organic is always best.
Therefore, a carbohydrate rich evening meal, if you've had a good balanced protein at lunch time, may allow the tryptophan to be taken up by the brain, to be converted into serotonin, then into melatonin, the hormone that helps you to go to sleep when your eyes see darkness, as night falls.
If you are a vegetarian, you must remember to eat both legumes and whole grains to give your body a full complement of the amino acids. As animal protein contains all the amino acids, you do not have to be so careful if you are not a vegetarian.
If you choose to exercise in the evening, try to do so before 7pm too, as your body will create a number of chemicals, which could interfere with solid sleep later.
Endorphins are produced when you exercise, which are tiny chemicals that give you a feeling of well-being and satisfaction, even euphoria, increasing your self esteem and help you feel positive and happy.
Unfortunately, they are not the only compounds released, as cortisol is released too, and it can interfere with your ability to wind down, and reach a state of calmness and quiet, which is required for sound, good sleep.
Endorphins are also produced when you consume various foods, such as chocolate, cheese and even wheat, some researchers believe. Which may explain why these foods can be addictive. So, if you find yourself reaching for a snack, and it contains one of these substances, maybe a vigilous walk around the block would be a better choice, as it will leave you feeling happy and positive too, together all the other benefits that exercise bestows, versus the 'addictive' snack, that will only leave you wanting more of the same.
Fortunately, if you are consuming the right kinds of EFA's, your synapses will be capable of releasing neurotransmitters effectively, so your neurons will be able to communicate well. EFA's also contribute to a stable mood and the lifting of mild depression.
Coffee also has the ability to give you a surge of energy, and although its most peoples choice of early morning, mid-morning and mid-afternoon 'pick-me-up' it may simply be giving you a surge of energy due to its ability to release adrenalin, so it may be doing you more harm than good in the long term. Herbal teas, as well as plain, filtered water, offer more benefits, with no down sides.
People have become very good at self-medication, as experience has taught us that we can regulate our moods with what we consume. Your food can be your best medicine, helping you to avoid artificial stimulants like sugar and caffeine, as well as sleeping tablets and anxiolytics, to calm you down.
Once you understand that what you eat does influence your state of mind, you can become more productive, happier and less sooner to mood swings.