Eat your way to success
Based on extensive medical research, it seems it just may be possible to eat your way to success.
The brain/stomach connection
While the general recommendation for good overall mental and physical health is to eat a balanced diet, certain foods can trigger the release of chemicals (or “neuro-transmitters”) that help control our emotional and physical reactions to certain situations. The two most important of these chemicals are serotonin and dopamine.
Moodiness, irritability and depression
Low serotonin levels are often associated with worrying, moodiness, irritability, and a general lack of behavioural flexibility. It is recommended that people make sure to add complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and protein sources such as milk, meat, and eggs.
Anxiety and fear
If you or your children are prone to anxiety, B vitamins (especially B6) have been shown to lesson symptoms. (Note: As with any medication or supplement, consult your doctor first.) It is also recommended not to allow yourself to get too hungry throughout the day. Snacking between meals can help to avoid low blood sugar which can worsen feelings of anxiety.
Lack of motivation, attention span
People who generally find it hard to concentrate or get motivated often find a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates gives them more energy and helps regulate attention span. Eliminating foods high in carbohydrates such as frozen waffles, muffins, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, or simple sugars found in foods like cake, candy, and ice cream are recommended. These foods all lower dopamine levels (raising serotonin levels) and can make symptoms related to ADD, even worse.
First and next steps
Examine the foods your children are eating – especially if they make their own breakfasts and lunch. Identify food that may not be supporting optimized performance, and make some substitutions for two weeks. Do you or your children notice a difference? Ask your family doctor, research online, or check out many of the great books written on the subject, including, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Dr. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. By examining the foods you consume, you will not only be able to better optimize your brain’s health and function, but may also be able to avoid medications.