Nutrition and Mood -- Can Eating Right Help You Pass the Bar?

"Chocolate Brain" by rhonogle

I was listening to an interesting podcast recently called Underground Wellness, and the topic was the relationship between food and mood.  The guest was Julia Ross who was talking about her book, The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Take Charge of Your Emotions--Today.  Her main theme is that negative moods (such as depression, seasonal depression, periodic irritability, etc) can be reduced or eliminated through proper nutrition.  In particular, she claims that negative moods are related to neurotransmitter deficiencies.  These neurotransmitter deficiencies, in turn, are related to insufficient intake of amino acids.  Therefore, to "cure" these negative moods, people need to take amino acid supplements and drastically increase their intake of animal protein (at least at the beginning of treatment) to bring their amino acid and thus neurotransmitter amounts back to proper levels to ensure normal functioning.

Julia Ross also talked about how eating nutritionally deficient meals of fast food; meals with lots of carbs -- especially wheat and related grains; and sugar in all its forms is effectively toxic for neurotransmitters.  She links the massive rates of depression in modern society, especially in the United States, to massive consumption of these so-called "foods."  I do not personally know the science behind her claims, but from my own experience, I would agree that excessive intake of sugary foods and carbohydrates can lead to unpleasant moods.  I, for one, am usually irritable a few hours after I eat sugary carbohydrate-based foods, such as when I binge on a couple of doughnuts or cupcakes that get delivered to my office as a "thank you" from my firm's various vendors.  (I think this podcast may have cured me of such binges.)

It seems like a lot of people I knew while I was studying for the bar could have used this advice.  So many people would grab quick meals of fast food or of extreme carbohydrate content (e.g., pasta and bread, pizza, etc), which were combined with overdoses of caffeine during the day and beer during the evenings . . . .  This must have contributed to the negative and depressive moods people were in when studying for the bar.  Combine the assault of these diets on neurotransmitters with the understandably high stress levels created by bar preparation, and it is a recipe for psychological disaster.  Without a stable mood, it will be that much harder to study with diligence and to keep your stress manageable.

So, in short, if you are not eating a diet rich in protein, consider increasing your protein intake and consider taking amino acid supplements.  Of course, if you intend to engage in extreme supplementation, you probably should do so under the supervision of a health professional.  (<-- lawyer talk).


If you would like to listen to the podcast that was the inspiration for this post, you can CLICK HERE to stream it.  You can also subscribe on iTunes.  (Please note, it takes the host about 5 minutes before he gets to his interview with Julia Ross.)


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