- Orson Welles
Head to a Shell petrol/gas station and you will be presented with two options for unleaded fuel, here in Britain they are FuelSave and V-Power.
Therefore if you're willing to spend more money at the pump your car will benefit from better performance and fuel efficiency.
For some reason this got me thinking about food.
What we eat and drink is fuel for our bodies, but I wonder if you've ever looked at it that way? I certainly haven't.
Are we what we eat?
I decided to do some research to find out which foods could boost my own performance and efficiency, specifically I wanted to look at mood boosting foods as I’d read that happier people are 30% more productive.
This meant one thing, testing, so for the following week I changed my diet to see what effects would take place.
From the research I had done one thing was clear, specifically looking at boosting my mood and therefore being able to think clearer and more efficiently, there were no studies I had read that included meat.
This was going to be quite a change. I'd never really given it much thought but I worked out that I consume meat at least five out of seven days of the week.
So what would I be eating? Well after reading endless Google search articles here is a list of ten (or so) foods that would be making up the majority of my new diet and the science behind them.
Dark Chocolate improves the blood-flow to the brain, and provides an instant boost in concentration and mood. This will help you to feel more energetic and vibrant. All you need is a few ounces of each day to reap the benefits. I kept a small bar in the car to snack on and included it with lunch and dinner, only eating small amounts each time (each bite the size of a penny), I went for Co-operative Fairtrade Ghanaian dark chocolate that contains 85% Cacao. Cacao is the magic ingredient here but doesn't taste very nice so that’s why usually add milk.
Greek Yoghurt contains calcium, which this has large amounts of (more than milk), helps a person’s brain by causing it to release happiness inducing neurotransmitters. Greek yoghurt also has more protein than regular yoghurt, which makes weight-loss easier, it helps your digestion and boosts your immune system.
Asparagus has high levels of folate and tryptophan. Low levels of folate have been linked to depression in half of all cases of depression, according to recent research. Tryptophan is also used by the brain to make serotonin, which is one of the human brain’s main mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters.
Honey, in regards to health, is far better than regular sugar. Honey contains kaempferol and quercetin, which helps to prevent depression (and keep your brain healthy) by reducing inflammation in the brain. It also won’t send your body into “fat-storage” mode, like regular sugar can, by having less of an impact on blood-sugar levels.
Cherry Tomatoes. All tomatoes have a substance known as lycopene but I like cherry ones. Lycopene is an antioxidant that fights inflammation in the brain and generally protects the brain. For best results, eat them with olive oil; olive oil helps to increase the absorption of lycopene.
Eggs contain moderate-to-large amounts of Zinc, Vitamin B, Iodine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and protein. Not only can eggs keep you energized, they can also keep you full (stomach-wise) for longer! A 2008 study in the “International Journal of Obesity” found that people who had eggs for breakfast lost considerably more weight, compared to those who ate bagels for breakfast.
Salmon and Walnuts, these foods are packed with omega-3s, which help fight off depression and mood swings. They can also improve your memory and focus.
Spinach is a leafy green is stocked with folic acid, a B vitamin that has been found to boost your mood. It is also an antioxidant that works to protect your brain cells from free radicals, which can lead to low energy and mood swings.
Avocado is a yummy green vegetable that contains serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. It's also really good for your skin.
Blueberries, Strawberries, and Raspberries contain anthocyanidins and anthocyanins, nutrients that help reduce stress and depression.
It is clear from this list that all of these foods are natural and are not 'produced'.
After a week of largely eating these foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner I have to say I did feel better, but only a little and maybe it could be down to the self satisfaction of eating healthily. What had a far bigger impact was when I decided to continue this diet for a second week but with one added ingredient, water. I forced myself to drink a glass of water almost every hour of the day.
This had a huge difference. Being hydrated is a great feeling in itself.
I'd read somewhere that you can last up to 40 days without food but only 4 without water, clearly water is very important to our functionality and I drink a lot more of it now.
For the third week of this experiment I added exercise. On every other day the first thing I do when I awake are press ups and sit ups and almost 4 weeks later I have to say that it does all work. I lost a tremendous amount of weight without really trying. My trips to the bathroom are better and I can honestly say that my productivity is up and that I feel better about myself and therefore am happier.
To sum up, drinking plenty of water and eating more of fruit, vegetables, seafood, oils and nuts will not only boost your mood and make you happier, you will have to maintain your body less with simple regular exercises instead of a costly gym membership.
I now eat meat once or twice a week which is down from five or six times a week. Don't get me wrong I enjoy eating meat but it is bad for your digestive system and to be completely honest we don't really need it.
You're probably thinking 'then why are you eating it again Silvio?' and you would be right to ask. I eat it because the natural diet does too good a job at keeping me in shape, I was losing too much weight and so a steak once a week keeps my body weight at a nice balance.
I didn't really like some of the foods I ate for this experiment but after the first week it became habit and began to really enjoy them. It has changed what I think about food and although it seemingly worked for myself I have to admit that I'm not a scientist, however in the essence of finding happiness and the belief that we actually are what we eat I definitely encourage you to try it.