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You Are What You Eat
Your magnificent machine is, in fact, a symbiotic collection of diverse, yet related sub-systems, coordinated and operated by a three pound mass of wrinkled gray matter known as your brain. Yes, our bodies are a true miracle, a wonder to behold. Every minute chemical change in one body system can adversely effect or benefit any or every other system. A small electro-chemical imbalance in our brain, our control system, can mean a near shutdown of our entire body. Precision balance is the standard mode of operation.
Why such a technical description of the human body? Simple; just like a finely tuned piece of electro-mechanical machinery, our bodies are sensitive to changes in inputs and outputs. The analogy is strikingly accurate. Our work quality and quantity output is in direct proportion to our food, drink, medicinal, sleep and other inputs.
The old computer adage of "garbage in, garbage out" is quite literally interpreted when it comes to our human body. If you load your incredible machine with simple carbohydrates and saturated fats, you will find it somewhat difficult just staying awake long enough to learn anything, let alone experiencing all of the energy-robbing additional weight that you'll soon be carrying around. Think before eating that fourth donut. What and when we eat has a great deal to do with our ability to learn, concentrate, remember, stay alert and perform tasks.
It has been alleged "human beings are actually a brain with a body to carry it around!" Think about it. Scientists tell us that our bodies, not our minds, can go for a great deal of time without sleep. Sleep is for the brain. Sleep is the downtime that our brain needs to refresh itself and be ready for the next day. The brain is an electro-chemical masterpiece of Divine design, operating perfectly in equilibrium. It needs the right balance of glucose and water to function properly or it develops headaches and sleepiness.
Everything that you consume affects your brain chemistry. Too much simple sugar or saturated fat and you will fall asleep. A little caffeine and we perk up. A big meal and we're sleepy. You must learn to eat sensibly and strategically for whole life and brain health. A casual approach can lead to lethargy and obesity.
The quality, quantity and timing of our eating can be critical to our performance. I will not attempt to dig deeply into the chemistry of all these elements at this juncture; that material is available in the many volumes of human nutritional and chemical data that has amassed over the last several decades. For our purposes here, know that consumption of too many of the wrong foods can hinder our performance and production.
Inordinate quantities of the wrong foods will most certainly hinder our learning capabilities. If our brains are sensitive to small chemical changes, then our eating and drinking habits, causing sometimes huge chemical reactions in our brains, will most certainly affect our ability to learn and perform tasks adequately. Awareness of these elusive facts can aid us in maintaining peak performance.
Lacking energy or drive because of our poor eating habits, we will most likely fail to get our work done effectively. Our job performance and income will suffer as a result. On the other hand, if we eat and drink strategically, we assure ourselves of maintaining a high-level state of learning and earning. That is smart, proactive thinking on your part.
What do we need to do? First, get the proper amount of sleep. For most people, this is 7-8 hours each night. Next, jump up from the sofa, turn off the television and get some exercise. You might even begin to like it. You will certainly enjoy the added energy a fit body provides. Besides, when you are busy exercising, you are not laying in front of the television eating a variety of junk foods.
Eat complex carbs like fresh, whole fruit, garden-fresh vegetables and whole wheat bread. Drink soymilk and lots of water to flush out your system. Eat lean meats and fish in reasonable quantities. Limit sweets and caffeine. Eliminate your consumption of simple processed sugar and flour, especially foods containing high fructose corn syrup. Stay clear of trans-fats as well. Did you know that a typical soft drink has in excess of 17 teaspoons of sugar? How many of those do you currently drink each day?
Look at the labels on foods, paying particular attention to serving sizes. You may be shocked to learn what you actually have been feeding your body and brain. Look at the chemical additives. Many commonly eaten foods lack any substantial nutritional value yet will most assuredly slow you down and add to your girth. Some common examples are french fries, soft drinks, ice cream, potato chips, big cookies, fast food hamburgers and so on. These are not quality brain foods.
There are possibly a thousand books on proper diet available to you. I suggest that you learn more about your optimum health and develop your plan. For our purposes, you now have the building blocks of your dietary strategy to help you optimize your physical chemistry, thus providing you with the greatest possible advantage in learning and performance.
Learn to be smart about your food choices; your learning will be more productive. Eat and drink in a responsible and intelligent manner. After all? you are what you eat.
Daniel Sitter is the author of the breakthrough e-book, Learning For Profit, the revolutionary "how-to" book providing simple, step-by-step instructions to teach people exactly how to learn new skills faster than ever before. It is what the author calls a "skinny book", a new generation of e-book designed for busy people. Containing no "filler or fluff", it gets right to the point with no wasted time. It can be read easily and quickly on a computer, a PDA or printed for later reference. Visit http://www.learningforprofit.com/ or contact the author directly. This e-book is currently available from C|net's download.com, the authors' web site and a variety of online book merchants. Mr. Sitter is a contributing writer for several online and traditional publications.
National Nutrition Month: Raising a Healthier Generation through Diet, Education - USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
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