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The Physicality Of Inspiration : Page 3 of 3

The Physicality Of Inspiration

continued from page 2

Foods With The Best Brain Balance

Fruit such as grapefruit, apples, cherries, oranges and grapes have a lower glycemic index. Fruit has a lower GI than fruit juice, because the fibre in the fruit slows the absorption of the fruit sugar. A whole apple will therefore be more brain friendly than apple juice.

For cereals and grains, oatmeal and bran have the lowest GI. Other foods with a favourable GI include spaghetti and brown rice. Corn flakes and sugar-coated cereals have a high GI and are therefore not ideal.

Vegetables, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils have the lowest glycemic index of any food. White potatoes have quite a high GI so try to opt for sweet potato instead.

Finally dairy products, milk and yoghurt have a low GI, slightly higher than vegetables but lower than fruit. Plain yoghurt has a lower glycemic index than flavored yoghurts with added sugar.

Happy foods

During the winter months we are starved of sunlight and this can lead to a reduction in the release of serotonin, an important chemical found in the brain. Serotonin is referred to as the feel good hormone and reduction in its release can lead to the development of serious seasonal depression for some, or just a dip in mood for others. Interestingly, our food intake also has an impact on the release of this hormone and tweaking our diets can lead to an improvement in mood, or halt this dip altogether.

Particular foods have a calming effect on the body that results in heightened feelings of happiness. Chocolate can have this effect as it triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins that make us feel good. Other happy foods include chicken, milk, leafy green vegetables and bananas which all contain a compound called tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid and one of the building blocks of protein. It competes for access to the central nervous system, with several other amino acids, and it is thought to increase the brain's production of serotonin, and subsequently to elevate mood.

It is known as Nature's Prozac.

Perky Foods

Proteins in the diet affect brain performance, either leaving us alert and productive or ready for bed. Rich foods can make us feel alert, jumpstarting the brain so we are ready for action.

Another amino acid that increases neurotransmitter activity is Tyrosine. High tyrosine foods include seafood, soy, meat, beans, tofu and eggs; eating them can leave you focused and motivated.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) also play a role in mood regulation. Those with low intakes of Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to be more likely to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. Three to six grammes of EFAs — taken in the form of food like fish, avocado, nuts or supplements — are recommended for general health and mood promotion.

Water, Water Everywhere

Drinking enough water will also make a dramatic improvement to energy levels. Aim to sip on small glasses of water throughout the day. If you don't want to interrupt your train of thought by nipping into the kitchen to re-fill your glass, fill a litre sports drink bottle and sip one over each half of the day.

Tom Evans Renaissance Man and Imagineer Tom Evans is the author of four books and counting about creativity. More »

8/27/11