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Up to speed

No doubt you’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” Here’s a new dimension to consider: “You feel what you eat.”

Foods, drugs, and chemicals may stimulate or calm us. Most of us are aware of the effects of drinks containing caffeine and alcohol, but components of food can produce similar, albeit milder, effects. Knowing which foods to eat or avoid can help us be either attentive or calm.

Two amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are especially important. The first, tyrosine is a precursor to the stimulating neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine.



Tryptophan, on the other hand, is a precursor to the brain-calming neurotransmitter serotonin and the neurohormone melatonin.

Tryptophan is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey, chicken, sesame and peanuts. Tyrosine is also found in many of these same foods.




The interaction of foods that we eat is complex, and people have difference experiences related to the total calories and amounts of proteins and carbohydrates consumed. The key for you is to track what and when you eat and your reaction. This can be helpful in preventing the mid-morning shakes, the after-lunch lows, and evening over-stimulation.

Source: Susan A. Rice, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., consultant in nutrition, toxicology and pharmacology, Grass Valley


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