Winnie-the-Pooh craved honey, and he'd do almost anything to satisfy his sweet tooth. That's precisely why his head got stuck in the honey jar. And while his obsession is endearing, recent research shows that eating foods loaded with saturated fats and sugars causes changes in your brain that trigger withdrawal symptoms (Winnie-the-Pooh, an addict?) when you stop eating them and switch to a healthier diet. Your neurotransmitter dopamine links its reward system to those sugary and saturated-fat-laden foods, and goes into a funk when they aren't around. As a result, you feel depressed, your appetite-control hormones get wacky, and you rush back to get more, more, more of those oh-so-aging fats or sweets.
But we've got a dopamine-protecting diet plan that will keep your brain happily rewarding you for what you eat — even though there's no excess saturated fat or added sugar around.
• Eat plenty of lean protein: salmon and trout, skinless chicken, turkey, legumes; they contain amino acids that stimulate dopamine production. So swap that fried chicken (with saturated and trans fats) for mustard- or walnut-crusted salmon and a side of kidney beans.
• Go for amino-acid-rich blueberries and apples. You'll get a sweet taste without the immune-system-damaging, brain-numbing effects of added sugar and sugar syrups.
• Then go nuts (and seeds). Walnuts are loaded with nutrients that promote clear thinking; sesame seeds and sesame seed oil protect dopamine levels; so does a half a glass of red wine. (Fortunately, bears love nuts and berries, too.) Cheers!
© 2013 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.