Essay, Research Paper: Dieting And Weight


Free Psychology research papers were donated by our members/visitors and are presented free of charge for informational use only. The essay or term paper you are seeing on this page was not produced by our company and should not be considered a sample of our research/writing service. We are neither affiliated with the author of this essay nor responsible for its content. If you need high quality, fresh and competent research / writing done on the subject of Psychology, use the professional writing service offered by our company.

People are, as the expression goes, what they eat. After all, the muscles in a
person’s body, and the blood flowing through their veins, are all supplied by
the food that he or she consumes. Understandably, these foods would also have an
effect on the way the brain functions. The foods we eat have measurable effects
on the body’s performance, they may prove to have an even more critical
influence on how the brain handles its tasks. The idea that the right foods, or
the natural neurochemicals they contain, can enhance mental capabilities such as
by defusing stress. (Blun 2) In the 1970’s, Dr. Richard Wurtman of MIT and his
graduate student, John Ferstrom, discovered that the nutrient composition of a
meal affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, substances that control nerve
impulses. They also found in rats, that the neurotransmitters dopamine and
serotonin had great involvement with food intake. Dr. Wurtman’s wife, Judith,
later found that the carbohydrate content of a meal might influence dopamine and
serotonin synthesis. Dopamine is related with alertness; it is used for fast
reflexes, “mental energy,” and to assist in problem solving. Serotonin helps
a person deal with stress. “When the brain uses serotonin, feelings of stress
and anxiety are replaced by a sense of tranquillity, often to the extent of
somnolence.”(Trankina 2) Serotonin is a composite of tryptophan, an amino acid
that is found in food. The most simplistic way to obtain tryptophan is by
consuming a high-carbohydrate meal, and avoiding foods containing protein and
fat. (1-3) People in general are better able to cope with stress when their
diets are high in complex carbohydrates. Many people misconstrue helpful,
complex carbohydrates with sugary, refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates
are contained in foods such as white breads, sugar coated cereals, white rice,
and other flour-based carbohydrates; these foods are not unhealthy, but they do
lack fiber. Even “enriched” versions of these types of food are not as
healthy, and stress suppressing as the complex carbohydrates. Complex
carbohydrates are related to whole-grain breads, potatoes, brown rice, corn
tortillas, pasta, and other grain-based foods. “It becomes understandable why
Italians are generally not stressed out.”(3) These types of foods are brimming
with “energy-boosting, feel-good carbohydrates.” (Blun 3) A simple way to
differentiate the two is by placing each in water, because the refined
carbohydrate is high in sugar it will dissolve rapidly. This method works the
same in a human body; the refined carbohydrate will break down much faster,
which also means the food will stay inside the body for a shorter period. Due to
the fact that complex carbohydrates are high in starches, these types of foods
take longer to be broken down, allowing them to stay inside the digestive system
and blood stream for longer periods. This slow digestion also keeps blood sugar
level and the brain energy high for long periods. Another misconception about
carbohydrates is the fat content and the amount of weight gained when these
types of foods are consumed; this is, in fact, a misconception. “Despite
carbohydrates’ undeserved reputation as being fattening, carbohydrates provide
only four calories per gram.” (Edelson 71) Only when these foods are added to
other substances, such as oil when being fried to make breading on certain types
of food, or eaten in large quantities that the body can not readily use, do they
get stored in the body as fat. Overeating usually is not a problem with
carbohydrates due to the fact that they tend to be filling, so only small
amounts may be eaten in a sitting. In addition, serotonins found in
carbohydrates have been proven to suppress appetites. Dr. Judith Wurtman of MIT
found that most fruits and vegetable have no effect on the amount of stress a
person might obtain when consumed. She categorizes these types of food as
“stress neutrals.”(Matson 1) The reason these foods do not provide stress
relief is that they do not produce dopamine or serotonin the way starchy,
complex carbohydrates do. These “stress neutrals” are more useful in the
morning because serotonin levels are naturally higher when a person wakes up.
“Breakfast is not designed to relieve stress; the goal is to nourish the
body.”(1) Carbohydrates are usually not needed for breakfast when these
serotonin levels are intense, so Wurtman suggests consuming a grapefruit or
banana. (1-2) Although these fruits and vegetables do not reduce stress, they do
provide the body with nutrients. Nutrients from vegetables and fruit are needed
during stress because when stress occurs, most of these nutrients are
eliminated. Due to this elimination of nutrients, the body increases the need
for vitamins only found in these “stress neutrals.” When the body is
distressed, it releases several hormones that suppress the body’s immune
response, thereby exposing the body to any number of infections. In times of
stress, it is advisable to take adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals such
as Vitamin A, the B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and the trace minerals, all of which
help the body maintain a strong defense system against infection. (Winters 1)
All of these vitamins listed can be found in fruits and vegetables. Not only
does Vitamin C help provide nutrients, these citrus fruits “help make up what
is lost by smoking.” (Reader’s Digest 161) Smoking gives people antsy
feeling which can actually lead to stress. Finally, the food-type that has the
worst effect on stress is food that is high in fat, sugar, and caffeine.
“These foods increase the discharge of the stress hormones and produce
symptoms of anxiety, including nervousness and restlessness that only aggravate
the stress response.” (Somer 1) Caffeine, especially, stimulates a jittery
feeling, which may lead to stress and lack of sleep. Instead, substitute
caffeinated soft drinks and coffee with herbal tea and noncaffeinated sodas;
alcoholic beverages should also be avoided. (1-2) According to Blun, “a diet
that draws heavily on fatty foods may be a major cause of depression and
aggression in North America.”(1) These types of foods are hardest to digest
and may lead to stress due to lack of nutrient absorption and retention. This
struggle for digestion induces heartburn and indigestion, which can cause
physical stress. During stress, fatty foods, which are difficult to digest any
time, should be avoided. Hot or spicy foods may also cause problems during times
of stress. In addition, lack of needed, healthy food leads to nutrient
deficiency, which according to Winters, is another form of physical stress.
Foods high in fat-content such as certain meats, not only lead to stress, but
other health problems such as high blood-pressure, which can result in heart
diseases, the number one killer in America. Untreated stress leads many people
to depression, anxiety, headaches, and a host of other complaints making
reduction of stress an important factor in improving your total health. (Edelson
41) Nutrition is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce stress levels without
having to go to the doctor and taking unnecessary medication. A well-nourished
body is better equipped to cope with stress than a poorly nourished body. A
nutritious diet should be consumed at all times, especially during times of
stress. “Nutrient deficiency is a form of physical stress and it is how well
the body is nourished that dictates how stress is handled.” (Winters 1) If a
body is not well nourished, it has a hard time handling stress. The best way to
achieve a stress-reduced life is by consuming foods containing serotonin. The
most simplistic method of obtaining serotonin is by eating foods containing
complex carbohydrates. By avoiding sugary, fatty foods, a person decreases their
level of stress. In place of these “junk foods,” a diet containing fruits
and vegetables will provide nutrients the body needs to fight off infections and
replace the amount of vitamins lost during stress. When stress arises, complex
carbohydrates give people a greater ability to deal with their problems because
they are more alert, and have a better sense of tranquillity.
Good or bad? How would you rate this essay?
Help other users to find the good and worthy free term papers and trash the bad ones.
Like this term paper? Vote & Promote so that others can find it

Get a Custom Paper on Psychology:

Free papers will not meet the guidelines of your specific project. If you need a custom essay on Psychology: , we can write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written papers will pass any plagiarism test, guaranteed. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

Related essays:

A woman gets pregnant, and her boyfriend leaves her. In Karen Horney`s The Distrust Between the Sexes, she explains how a person`s psychological history causes him/her to distrust people of the oppos...
It seems that more and more marriages are falling apart everyday. Divorce rates seen to be climbing astronomically. In so many of these divorces there are children to be considered. What is best for ...
Psychology / Dostoevsky
Thesis: Dostoevsky's manic and depressive episodes aided in his ability to properly illustrate the workings of the human mind, through his writing. Outline: I. Introduction II. What is Manic Depressi...
There are many facts that are unknown about dreams and their meanings. For centuries, philosophers and scientists have tried to understand the meaning of dreams. They have all been fascinated by the ...
When we sleep we do much more than just “rest our weary bones”; we tap into our subconscious mind (Ullman and Zimmerman 1979). The subconscious has much to offer about oneself. The average human bein...