Health & Safety

March 7, 2013

Eating healthy food keeps gray matter ‘in pink’

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Grace Lee

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Eating the right foods not only affects a person’s physical performance, but also the brain’s performance.

Leslie Dana-Kirby, 56th Medical Operations Squadron clinical psychologist, said the human brain is responsible for all thinking, reasoning, memory, judgment and decision-making. It also controls fundamental life functions such as hunger, thirst, sleeping, breathing and temperature regulation.

As well as being the main mechanism critical to the body’s survival, the brain is what makes every person diverse.

“The mind is responsible for human emotions,” Dana-Kirby said. “I would argue that the brain is the most important of all the human organs, because it essentially makes you who you are.”

The food choices one makes can also affect it.

“There’s actually a connection between what you eat and how it can affect the brain,” said Matthew Keene, 56th MDOS psychiatrist. “Certain foods can raise the levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is essentially ‘happy juice’ and it derives from an amino acid called tryptophan.”

To make tryptophan the body does need some protein, but processed carbohydrates is what drives the tryptophan into the brain for conversion into serotonin, Keene said. While any carbohydrate can help the process, processed carbohydrates can push a lot more tryptophan into the brain at once resulting in a boost in mood.

“The boost in mood is very temporary and then comes crashing back down,” Keene said. “The crash also causes energy levels to drop as well as mood, sometimes resulting in depression.”

The relationship between the food one eats and how it affects the gray matter answers questions as to why some people eat more processed foods than others.

“Because some food addicts are used to constantly having high levels of serotonin, when they actually do have ‘normal’ levels they feel like they’re low, so they binge eat frequently to get that normal feeling back,” Keene said.

Additionally, foods provide essential nutrients to the brain.

“Foods provide the necessary energy to fuel intellect power,” Dana-Kirby said. “They provide the building blocks for cell production and support and supply some protection against the natural decline in reasoning and memory that occurs with age.”

Foods closest to their most natural form are the best to consume, Dana-Kirby said.

“Eat foods that provide antioxidants such as beans, berries and apples,” Dana-Kirby said. “For amino acids, eat foods like fish, nuts and eggs and regulate your blood sugar levels by eating healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”

In addition to healthy foods, basic essentials keep the mentality healthy.

“Treat your brain like you would a good house plant,” Keene said. “Get a good night’s sleep; give it good food, water and sunlight.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ciara Gosier)

Historic fighter squadron celebrates 98th birthday

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ciara Gosier) Historic_Pict2 Caption: U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 94th Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit pose for a photo at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Aug. 21, 2015. The ph...
 
 
WEBKeySpouse_pict

Key Spouse Program: Supporting the families and Airmen of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Photo: KeySpouse_pict DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. — It is in the nature of military service that at some point you will be separated from the ones who love you. Often times a permanent change of station forces spouses and si...
 
 
(Courtesy photo)

SecAF, CSAF, CMSAF present new “little blue book”

(Courtesy photo) Caption: Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody congratulates an Airman attending Airmen’s Week Aug. 27, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The Airmen received a copy of “America’...
 

 
af-uav4

Arming the RPAs

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Joseph Swafford A1C Matthew Lopez (center), 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron munitions systems technician, builds a GPS-guided GBU-49 bomb at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2015...
 
 
Photo: WoW_pict

Warfighter of the Week: Staff Sgt. Brad Johannes

Photo: WoW_pict Col. Robert Stonemark, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) chief of staff, presents Staff Sgt. Brad Johannes, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) manager of engineering operations, with the Warfighter of the Week certificate dur...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>