Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nutrition



Let me start be addressing a question asked by my mother in the last update. I haven’t spent all my money on books. I can still afford food...at least for now. Time for the post!


Nutrition is something that isn’t talked about much in regards to studying, but it is something I found can make a world of difference for me. I have always been fascinated with nutrition and how it affects my performance in a variety of the sports I am involved in. I never feel more of a boost or a flat feeling as when I am mountaineering. I typically consume between five and six thousand calories throughout the day and anything less than that and I can literally feel myself running out of energy.

Although sitting in a chair and studying is nowhere near as physically demanding, I think people are surprised at the amount of resources the human brain demands. I had heard a lot of tales about how we only use 10% of our brain at any time because any more than that and we would have to eat all day long just to get enough calories. It turns out that is not far off the mark. I took a number of nutrition classes at Auburn and learned that brain cells require twice as much glucose to operate than any other cell in the human body. Even when I brain cell appears that it isn’t doing much of anything, it is still metabolizing sugar as it produces the enzymes needed for the next time it is called upon. And having a lack of blood sugar can have measurable effect on memory and learning. I found this quote that discusses a couple studies on the subject

“Psychology professor Paul E. Gold has researched the stability of glucose levels in the brain. Working with Ewan C. McNay , they found that as rats went through a maze, concentrations of glucose declined in the animals' hippocampus , a key brain area involved in learning and memory – even more dramatically so in older brains…’The brain runs on glucose. Young rats can do a pretty good job of supplying all the glucose that a particular area of the brain needs until the task becomes difficult,’ explained McNay, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Yale University. ‘For an old rat given the same task, the brain glucose supply vanishes out the window. This correlates with a big deficit in performance. A lack of fuel affects the ability to think and remember.’”

So with all that information in mind, I have always tried to focus on having a breakfast that would give me a good jumpstart on the day, no matter what I have panned. Since not all sugars are the same, I don’t go the pop tart route. A typical breakfast for me is a multigrain bagel, a few wedges of fruit, a yogurt, a glass of OJ and a cup of green tea. Sometimes I toss in some eggs for a little boost of protein. I typically avoid sodas. I stopped drinking them a while back and it just kind of became a habit to drink juices and water over grabbing a soda.

I missed breakfast the other day and I realized just how big of a difference it makes for me. It took me a long time to get motivated and keep my concentration. And hey, if nothing else, it’s just a generally healthy habit overall.

1 comments:

jeanne on May 4, 2009 at 8:23 AM said...

Yeah! You are eating! I can sleep now.
Love, Mom

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