McDonalds and Focus in the Brain
I just recently read an article in this months Week Magazine about the effects of “Junk food” on the brain and its ability to function and perform at optimum levels. It was very interesting. It mentioned a number of things very important to the Voice Professional concerning diet and it’s effect on our brain and bodies as it relates to the voice. Firstly it was noted that research from scientific studies at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, that rats given continual access to cheesecake, frosting, bacon, cheeses, cookies and other fatty high calorie foods, became, surprise surprise, “quickly obese.” The more the rats ate, they more they could not stop. The white sugar, white flower and chemicals literally became addictive and the compulsion to eat these types of foods became more and more pressing. After a short period of time, they began to ignore electric shocks to their feet, in the presence of these foods. What was even more amazing was that the more they ate and became addicted to these high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods the pleasure center in their brains lit up as if they were taking drugs! But that doesn’t surprise me considering these substances are drugs. Over time, the article mentioned, the rats had to eat more and more to feel satisfied. When the food was removed and healthier alternatives were offered, “the rats basically starved themselves to death for two weeks.”
Dr. Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven National Labaratory pointed out that the findings in this study were not surprising, considering the fact that fast-food and chemically processed foods are “striped of fiber and nutrition and designed to trigger innate preferences for fat, sugar and salt.” So what does this have to do with the Voice Professional? Everything! Most obvious is the issue of health and appearance on stage or whenever you are in front of people. Face it, the business we are in is about looking good as much as it is sounding good. We have to take care of our physical health, it is an absolute priority. If our body is feeling run down, over loaded with chemicals, and sluggish, then our voice will reflect the way the body feels. It will take more and more energy, which should be going to vocal production, to just stay awake, fired up and alert. Which brings me to the next important issue here, mental alertness.
Studies have also shown that these chemicals, fats, white sugars, and white flour directly hamper the brains ability to focus and stay clear. In the book “Prescription for Natural Healing”, James and Phyllis Balch report that “these foods have an adverse effect on brain function” and actually “turn off the brain.” That is exactly the opposite effect we need when performing presenting or speaking in front of guests or potential clients and business associates. These foods also effect our ability to memorize and retain the information we are supposed to be delivering freely easily and flawlessly. I don’t know abut you, but I work to hard at my craft to take chances with my brain when I need it to deliver for me. I am not willing to take the risk and eat a snickers bar and a double espresso before rehearsal.
So what are our alternatives? Well, I’m glad you asked! Below you may find many excellent alternatives for energy and brain enhancement that are easy to carry with you and you can use the second after you finish reading this blog.
Dried Fruits, Mangos are really great
Nuts- Sunflower, Almonds and Pumpkin seeds
Hard Boiled Eggs
Beans and Lentils
Whole Wheat Pita and Hummus
Emergen-C ( Vitamin C powder packs )
Fresh Vegetable Juice
David Aaron Katz