Enough then of the negative side of food and fluid intake; what about positive ways of manipulating diet? Distinct possibilities do undeniably exist. The food of choice in this regard is carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is, as most probably you know, any one of a large group of compounds including the sugars and starch containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. All carbohydrates are broken down within the body to the simple sugar glucose, in readiness for use by energy producing metabolic processes. Where not immediately required, insulin produced in the pancreas, conveniently places it into store for later use. (In terms of its function, insulin, which places into store, is the antithesis of cortisol, which mobilizes into energy).
Should – as the result of carbohydrate intake – blood sugar levels elevate rapidly, the pancreas will tend to over-compensate and more sugar will be placed into store than was originally intended. This incidentally is not the condition known as hypoglycaemia, i.e. a deficiency of glucose in the blood stream. Rather is it the case that blood sugar has dropped down to the low end of the normal range, enough to induce the feeling of tiredness. It happens to thousands of people attending meetings or even driving their car or whatever early in the afternoon and about an hour and a half following the consumption of a baked potato with corn and whole meal cereal etc. If then during the course of the evening (in addition to your hot shower or whatever) you take a light carbohydrate snack together with a glass of milk, you can take advantage of that feeling of tiredness as part of you preparation for night sleep.
And there is more good news to hand. You will recall that I earlier made mention of the neurotransmitter substance, serotonin. You will also recall that in my letters dealing with “Depression”, I made the point that a crucial 1% of all serotonin production is taken up by the brain where it is complexly but most decidedly implicated in mood regulation, relaxation and – so it has been shown – cooling of the brain. The truth is that actual synthesis of serotonin proceeds as follows: – tryptophan is an essential amino acid contained in such foods referred to above, which is transformed by an enzyme (known as tryptophan-hydroxylase) into 5-hydroxytryptophan, the immediate precursor of serotonin. When my mother in days long ago ‘prescribed’ “a good glass of milk” before retiring, she did not (as far as I know) realize that milk also is high in tryptophan, as is carbohydrate. ©SB.