Up until the age of ten, I lived with my grandmother in the ancient city of Benin. It was a quaint life, I was young and full of dreams, I had not a care in the world and I was happy. My happiness especially doubled whenever it was dinnertime. My grandmother always prepared the most delicious dishes, and almost everything was prepared from scratch. Her desire was to make sure my sister and I grew up strong and healthy, and thus, good nutrition was key to her.
Now let’s fast forward to recent times.
Processed food, junk food and fast food have become the order of the day, cooking meals the way our mothers used to do it back in the day is now seen as stressful and a waste of time. Chemicals, excess sugar, and saturated fat are winning the battle, our world is now filled with stressed-out, high-strung, weak, over-weight people with low immunity – this is evidence that we are what we eat.
“How can this be changed?” you may ask, the answer is simple: Change your diet. It’s not too late to implement healthy options into our everyday meals, fruits, vegetables, less sugar, less fat, more water; the list is endless.
A colleague at my office recently went vegan. He was the butt of most of our jokes at lunchtime; we found it amusing to taunt him with burgers, heavily loaded sandwiches and fizzy drinks, but he held strong to his new eating habit. And to be honest we all noticed a change in him that made us realise we were doing ourselves the utmost disservice by stuffing our bodies with junk food. In less than two months the changes in him were visible: he was slimmer, his eyes were sharper, he was more productive. Basically, he had become a new man. Soon, I and most of my other colleagues followed suit; we didn’t need any convincing, we had already witnessed first hand the benefits of eating healthy.
Research shows that certain foods affect powerful, mood-modifying brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are made from the foods we eat and are present in higher concentrations after meals than between them.
Although there are a lot of neurotransmitters, only a few actually affect appetite:
Serotonin — a chemical released after eating carbohydrates (sugars and starches). It boosts calmness, improves mood, and alleviates depression. Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan. High levels of serotonin control appetite and satisfy cravings.
Dopamine and norepinephrine — these chemicals are released after eating protein (meats, poultry, dairy, legumes). They improve mental concentration and alertness. These neurotransmitters come from the amino acid tyrosine.
They say health is wealth; a healthy society is a wealthy one. Death is inevitable for us all but eating right can make our existence on this earth happier and more fulfilling. Bad eating habits are hard to break I know, but I believe a change can be implemented.
It is not too late to start eating right.
It is not too late to put into practice proper eating habits; it is indeed worth a try for the sake of our humanity.
Remember, you are what you eat.by