We're all aware that amino acids are present and important throughout our bodies. Muscle, for example, is very high in protein and amino acids. But the most exciting area of amino acid research is the study of brain metabolism.
Essentially, amino acids run your brain. Your central nervous system is almost completely regulated by amino acids and their peptides. Communication within the brain and between your brain and the rest of your body's extensive nervous system occurs through chemical "languages" by which brain cells or neurons communicate.
There are about 50 such "languages" that neurotransmitters use to transmit messages from one neuron, or nerve cell, to a specific organ such as a muscle or gland that releases hormones. Neurotransmitters are powerful chemicals that can regulate numerous physical and behavioral processes, including cognitive and mental performance, emotional states, and the pain response.
For a complete brain and body exam, contact us at PATH Medical. We approach a full physical exam the same way you were born - head first.
Cysteine is a nonessential amino acid, yet a biochemical powerhouse. Ever since the Greeks used garlic therapeutically, elemental sulfur has been employed to treat a wide variety of disorders. Cysteine, a higher quality source of sulfur than garlic, is active in many different situations in the body because of its special properties of the thiol grouping at the end of each molecule.
Thiol compounds not only prevent oxidation of sensitive tissues, which can cause aging and cancer, by sacrificing themselves for oxidation first, but they also help the body process and render harmless toxic chemicals and carcinogens. This is what makes cysteine, and its well-known star derivatives N-acetylcholine-cysteine and glutathione, extremely powerful components.
Foods rich in cysteine are high in sulfur. They include egg yolks and red peppers. Other good sources are garlic, onion, muscle protein, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
As you get older, your metabolism naturally slows down. Your metabolism is determined by a massive genetic equation, which takes into account your age and your current health. This equation looks like this:
Rate of Metabolism =
Your hormones [growth hormones, estrogen, testosterone]
Your bone strength, muscle strength, and active neurons [working brain chemistry]
The number of diseases you currently have
As you age, your hormones drop, muscle is lost, bone density is lost, and your brain cells fizzle. At the same time you accumulate illnesses. All of these factor into your metabolic rate. However, by reversing these individual health issues, you can increase your metabolism, feel younger, and lose weight.
When you were young, the food you ate supported your growing brain and body. Yet once you reached your final adult height, you may have experienced weight gain even when you were eating the exact same foods in the same quantities. The problem: Your metabolism weakened over time. To compensate, you need more voltage, or Dopamine, to jump-start your fat-burning furnace. Without it, you'll just continue to accumulate body fat.
The good news is that you can jump-start your fat-burning furnace by concentrating on foods and nutrients that naturally increase your metabolism and boost your dopamine. Your metabolism works as an automatic system that is set by the fuel you throw at it. If you've been eating junk, your metabolism is working like a low-burning fire. However, when you provide it with lots of dopamine, this brain chemical acts like a pile of coal, and ignites your metabolism to burn off your calories.
Remove Foods That Deplete Dopamine
Many common foods actually can deplete your levels of dopamine. For example, sugar and its many hidden forms (high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, sucralose, molasses, syrup, and others) should be avoided. Better alternatives would be pure honey, or maple syrup because they contain additional vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may benefit your health. Stevia is another natural sugar substitute. It's 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so just a tiny amount will do the trick, and it contains 0 calories.
Also avoid simple carbohydrates and high glycemic foods which are foods you crave if you are dealing with a dopamine deficiency, because they give you the feeling of increased energy in the short term. These are generally the "white" foods such as cakes, crackers, chips, potatoes, white breads and rice, processed foods, etc.
Which Foods Should You Eat?
Instead of sugar-laden and "white" foods, choose more colorful versions that have more nutrients. Whole grain, colorful carbs (such as sweet potatoes, and brown rice) provide lots of energy without being instantly converted into body fat. Although they don't create more dopamine, they won't feed into the food addiction cycle.
Dopamine enhancing foods are by nature calorie dense, so eating in moderation will be key in not consuming more calories than your body needs. Foods high in the amino acid, phenylalanine, will boost your metabolism. These include such proteins as lean beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, oat flakes, yogurt, turkey, etc.
The amino acid, tyrosine, is another precursor to dopamine. Tyrosine-rich foods include: beef, chicken, cottage cheese, duck, granola, pork, wheat germ, wild game, yogurt, etc.
By increasing your consumption of phenylalanine and tyrosine, you can reverse your dopamine deficiency. Be sure to add spices to your meals - they are nutrient-dense and provide between 20 to 80 different nutrients. Try to include hot or cold tea to your day - they are metabolic enhancers that can help you burn calories and body fat. Colorful vegetables and salads should be included in your meals as a low-calorie, antioxidant-rich, and nutrient-dense benefit.
Call to schedule an appointment for a full exam. We can help you to reverse the affects of aging so you can be a Younger, Thinner, Healthier You.
If you're looking for a delicious, vegetarian, Rainbow Power Recipe, this meal is a nutrient powerhouse. This spicy curry dish includes chili peppers that are a metabolism-boosting Dopamine food; ginger and sweet potatoes support GABA; and cumin boosts Serotonin.
Protein is the second most abundant substance in our bodies after water. It constitutes three-fourths of the dry weight of most body cells. It is involved in the biochemical structure of genes, blood, tissue, muscle, collagen, skin, hair, and nails. It's also a major constituent of all the many hormones, enzymes, nutrient carriers, infection-fighting antibodies, neurotransmitters, and other chemical messengers in the body - just for starters. This continuous cell-building and regeneration necessary for life requires non-stop supplies of protein.
There are no universally accepted dietary requirements for protein. However, the World Health Organization recommends 0.3 to 0.4 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per day, or about 30 to 40 grams for an average adult male weighing approximately 150 pounds. The protein consumed must be high-quality and contain all or most of the essential amino acids.
Poor digestion, infection, stress, drug use, age, etc. are factors that influence the availability of them. As long as the body has a reliable source of dietary proteins containing the essential amino acids, it can adequately meet most of its needs for new protein production. But the removal of even one essential amino acid from the diet leads rather rapidly to a lower level of protein synthesis in the body, which sooner or later, will lead to some type of physical disorder.
Cottage Cheese - Good for What Stresses & Hurts You
Cottage cheese contains one whole gram of methionine, as well as tyrosine, per serving (1/2 cup). Methionine, an essential amino acid, in larger doses, may be effective in treating osteoarthritis and other kinds of chronic pain. It can also be a useful adjunct therapy for Parkinson's disease because it stimulates production of the pain-relieving L-dopa. Furthermore, taking methionine can help relieve the anxiety that comes with acutely stressful situations when taken in conjunction with tyrosine.
While I'm not supporting that you eat your way out of stress and anxiety, a little low-fat cottage cheese can go a long way. So if you find yourself "stressing" about what to have for lunch, cottage cheese is a great choice on a Younger (Thinner) You Diet.
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.