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Food For Thought

For any network to be up and running, effectual communication is a must. Our brain too is a complex network of millions of inosculating nerve cells called neurons which need to effectively and efficiently communicate to transfer or/and process the message. Neurotransmitters serve as the postmen, carrying the signal or impulse from one neuron to the other(s). These are aptly called 'messengers' and composed of amino acid molecules which are the building blocks of proteins.

Neurotransmitters are supplemented from our diet, hence foods rich in them are called 'brain foods', which are really important for good IQ levels. Eating right is the key to an intelligent brain and a great IQ. So incase you are missing out on these, make sure to include them.

The four key neurotransmitters along with their food sources are discussed below:

  1. Acetylcholine
  2. excites other neurons and is believed to be responsible for memory. Acetylcholine fosters the brain's ability to process and recall information quickly.


    It is involved with voluntary movement of muscles, behavioral inhibition, and memory. Acetylcholine deficiency may lead to fat cravings, dry mouth, dry cough, memory dysfunction, difficulty in concentrating.

    So you must ensure a good supply of this neurotransmitter in your diet. Acetylcholine rich foods include:

    • egg yolks
    • peanuts
    • wheat germ
    • meat
    • fish
    • cheese
    • almonds
    • blueberries
    • fruit juices (Grape juice, Apple juice etc.) and vegetables (especially broccoli, cabbage, fava beans and cauliflower).

  3. Dopamine
  4. generally excites and is involved in movement, attention and learning but is also inhibitory. It provides the fuel for the brain's power and energy.


    It is involved with voluntary movement, emotional arousal. Without the right amount of dopamine, you might have the following symptom(s): sugar and/or caffeine cravings, fatigue, pallor, diarrhea, lightheadedness, decreased libido, routine-task performance difficulty, decreased physical activity, obesity, addictions, sexual disorders etc.

    A protein rich diet has liberal amounts of dopamine. Recommended food sources are as follows:

    • Proteinaceous diets (meat, milk products, fish, beef, beans, nuts, soy products)
    • avocado
    • black-eyed peas
    • pumpkin seeds
    • tofu.

  5. Serotonin (or 5-HT)
  6. usually inhibits and is involved in arousal and sleep, mood, appetite and sensitivity. However, it is also excitatory and is part of the brain's reward system producing feelings of pleasure.


    Serotonin allows the brain to restore itself. When you have had a good night sleep and feel relaxed when you wake up, be assured you have good serotonin reserves.

    Foods high on carbohydrates are rich in serotonin.A tryptophan-rich diet will support your body's production of serotonin.

    • carbohydrate rich food (pasta, starchy vegetables, potatoes, cereals, breads).
    • banana,
    • bluefish,salmon
    • brown rice,
    • cottage cheese, Swiss cheese
    • sunflower seeds, and
    • turkey.

  7. GABA
  8. ensures that brainwaves operate in harmony, in rhythm, which results in an even temperament and bodily calm.


    It plays an important role in regulating neuronal excitability. In humans, GABA is also directly responsible for the regulation of muscle tone.

    GABA deficiency may result in carbohydrate cravings, trembling, hyperventilation, flushing, palpitations, sweating, cold or clammy hands, chest pain or discomfort, anxiety, impaired vision, abnormal sense of smell, abnormal odors, lump in throat, butterflies in stomach, and unusual allergies.

    A diet rich in whole grains and complex-carbohydrates provides an excellent source of glutamine, which the brain needs to keep itself calm. The following are GABA-rich foods:

    • banana
    • broccoli
    • brown rice, rice bran
    • citrus fruit
    • lentils
    • molasses,
    • nuts
    • oatmeal
    • spinach

All the above mentioned neurotransmitter rich foods are associated with developing or honing one or the other mental faculties related to quick thinking and responding, memory, concentration, focus, processing information etc., a well balanced intake can boost your performance on IQ tests.

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