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Ivan's picture

What to eat to be creative

brain power

One might think that eating has nothing to do with your creative capacity, but he would be so wrong. What you put in your system greatly influences how many good ideas you will have and how fast they will come.

Most importantly you need to think long term. If you're in the creative business you have to come up with ideas daily or at least several times a week. You should not abuse your body for short term gains. On long term such practices will make you suffer.

Numerous studies have shown that eating the right kind of stuff can increase your brain powers besides making you healthy.

For fuel your brain uses carbohydrates. Omega 3 fatty acids are used as building blocks for the neurotransmitters. Antioxidants help preserve your brain powers on long term. Now, let's look at these in detail.

The fuel

breadCarbohydrates are important because this is what your brain runs on. I recommend eating plenty of whole grain foods, because they break down slower therefore providing a steady supply of fuel for hours. White bread in contrast burns fast giving you a short term boost only.

You need to try and avoid all fast acting carbohydrates such as sugars and keep them for those extreme occasions when you need to deliver an extreme performance. If you abuse sugars all the time you will not be able to get a boost from them when you really need it.

Think of yourself as a street race car. If you were to run on nitro all the time, you would quickly wear out your engine and you would not be able to give yourself an extra boost when you're at a race.

The building blocks

salmonYou need to take in sufficient amount of omega 3 fatty acids, because that's what helps your brain to build the highways within your brain to carry information.

If you don't eat enough of this stuff, your brain will survive by building roads from other types of oils, which are less efficient for carrying info, therefore slowing down your processing power overall.

You can get omega 3 from many foods, but you need to pick and choose them carefully. Oily fish and nuts are the best sources. You can also take food supplements, but are pretty expensive and taste disgusting.

nuts

The best thing about eating omega 3 is that it's not only good for your brain, but everything else in your body as well. Also, you need not to worry about getting fat from them, unlike from other fats that can be found in pork or beef.

Protection

fruits
You need to preserve your brain from so called free radicals. The most well known anti-oxidants are vitamin C, E and beta carotene. You get vitamin C and beta carotene from fruits the easiest. E is covered if you eat the nuts. E is crucial for your eyesight as well, so do include nuts in your diet every day.

Supplements

creatineStudies have shown that creatine, a tasteless white powder is a natural substance that our own body produces and usually taken by bodybuilders improves brain performance as well. I have tried it and it does work. Although you can't and should not take it indefinitely.

L-glutamine and other amino acids. These supplements are also available in bodybuilding shops. Your brain needs many rare to find (in food) amino-acids as building blocks.

Vitamins B, C, E, Choline, Phosphatidylserine can all be taken as supplements, but if you eat all the above healthy foods in abundance you won't be needing to supplement.

Stimulants

You can stimulate your brain with many things, but you need to be smart about them. You should not overdo them as it would affect your health and your long term creative output.

coffee

We can divide all stimulants into two categories. The ones that speed up your brain and the ones that help to free up your right brain from your left brain. Speed is important for mechanical tasks that you mostly perform with your left brain hemisphere. While you could experiment speeding up your brain for brainstorming sessions, it's best to use left hemisphere blockers for such occasions.

Boosters for speed

sugarCaffeine is the most widely used stimulant, but I have to stress that it will not work if you take it regularly. You should not drink coffee in the morning or drink too much Coke during the day. You should keep your system clean up until the moment you want to speed your brain up. Make sure not to drink caffeine 3-4 hours before going to sleep as it would disrupt your sleep patterns and you will wake up tired.

Other speed boosts besides caffeine are sugars, taurin, gingko biloba and gotu kola. These all speed up your metabolism and circulation temporarily. Cigarettes have the same effect, but they have many negative side-effects, so I would not recommend them. Although if you only smoke for special controlled occasions once a week or less there will be no harmful effects, in-spite of what anybody tells you.

Boosters for creativity

red wineYour left brain hemisphere keeps your right brain in check. It keeps you rational. But when you want to connect two seemingly unrelated things — one definition of creativity — you don't want rational thinking to limit your ideas.

You can partially block out your left brain with alcohol or THC. Marijuana and similar products are illegal in most countries and alcohol is banned in many Muslim countries too. If you decide to drink, take very little. Just enough to put you in the right state of mind. Too much will make you sleepy and unable to concentrate.

If you've been eating right all along you will be in a constant state of calm creative mindset, which you can manually activate with a bit of relaxation.

You can achieve such a creative state with meditation or simply taking an active nap. You can experiment with incense as well. But, these take us into other areas of self management for creative excellence.

Things you should do to boost your brain power besides eating right (will talk about them in detail in later posts):

  • Sleep — I know you work late, but do take the effort to have at least 8 hours of sleep a day.
  • Do sports — It not only improves your overall muscle tone, but your brain too.
  • Experience new things — Do wine tastings, get new friends, do a crossword, etc.
  • Be curious — Question everything, get involved and learn about things that are unrelated to your profession.
  • Write a diary — Blog your life and read your old entries. This will give you a perspective and activate your brain in unexpected ways.
  • Listen to music — Listen to music all the time, except when you need to be extra focused.
  • Take time to play — Socially or alone.
  • Concentrate — Learn to focus and do it regularly for important tasks.
  • Make love and friends — Strong emotional bonding (not just sex) increases your brain power.
  • Try scent activation — This is a technique that with time will allow you to achieve a higher state of creative consciousness. Simply create a strong aroma whenever you need to concentrate and be creative.

More posts on the subject:
Keep your creative juices flowing
How to come up with creative ideas
77 ways to come up with an idea

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

3dogmama's picture
1990 pencils

Fuck eating. It's over-rated.
Jack and a big fatty is where it's at. ;)

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
— Frank Zappa

"Art -- the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised." - James Thurber

Doug M.'s picture
421 pencils

hah! 3dog...your killin me

pub3abn's picture
22 pencils

Great points.

Personally I've found that another way to sharpen your thinking, when you need to have a really clear mind, is NOT eating at all ... in other words, fasting. Obviously this is not something you want to do every day. But I've found that skipping breakfast when I have an important morning meeting really clears my mind. After the meeting, I might eat a normal lunch or even a little extra. Of course, exercise common sense -- say if you are diabetic, etc.

Another thing that really helps is drinking plenty of water. Not pop, not juice -- water. Our bodies contain lots of water, and water is involved in many body processes, including the brain. More water helps your body empty toxins and waste, and gives your body more water to work with internally. Unlike sugar-laden beverages, water does not cause insulin spikes and dives. Scheduling one tall glass of cool water at mid-morning and mid-afternoon seems to really help a lot.

Ivan's picture

Thanks for these important additions.

KellyR's picture
525 pencils

Great post, Ivan. :) Thanks for sharing.

A good resource site for those interested in which healthy foods deliver the biggest punch of these nutrients is World's Healthiest Foods. Just click on a nutrient and you'll be provided a breakdown that shows which foods contain the largest amounts of said nutrients. (Also got a lot of tasty recipes. The 15 minute black bean salad is awesome).

steveballmer's picture
652 pencils

http://stevefakeballmer.wordpress.com
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

3dogmama's picture
1990 pencils

Why? Do they give you a stomachache or just bad gas?

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
— Frank Zappa

"Art -- the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised." - James Thurber

steveballmer's picture
652 pencils

http://stevefakeballmer.wordpress.com
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

3dogmama's picture
1990 pencils

Too much of a good thing generally does.

"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
— Frank Zappa

"Art -- the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised." - James Thurber

www.jackmancer.com's picture
532 pencils

Thanks so much for this Ivan, it's really interesting.

ghoogie's picture
27 pencils

I find Diet Coke and some Skoal Mint does the trick.
The pee breaks tend to help refocus the eyes and clear the head.

Also music feeds my soul.
Depending on the project and the mood I am in...I could listen artists like Slip Knot to Toby Keith.

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