Everyone derives meaning and purpose in different ways that involve doing things that benefit others, as well as yourself. You may think of it as a way to feel needed, feel good about yourself, a purpose that drives you on, or simply a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In biological terms, finding meaning and purpose is essential to brain health as it can help generate new cells and create new neural pathways in the brain. It can also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress, and keep you motivated to pursue the other steps to better mental and emotional health. However, you derive meaning and purpose in life, it’s important to do those things every day.
The effect of a nutritional source of tryptophan on dieting-induced
changes in brain 5-HT function.
Psychol Med. 2003.
Dieting in healthy women results in a decrease in the availability of tryptophan, the amino-acid precursor of serotonin, for brain serotonin synthesis. This is associated with increases in the prolactin response to serotonin drug challenge suggesting a 'supersensitivity' of serotonin neuroendocrine responses. The aim of the study was to assess whether increased tryptophan intake during dieting would prevent the changes in tryptophan availability and serotonin neuroendocrine function. Fifty female subjects underwent a 1000 kcal daily diet for 3 weeks. In the final week of the diet subjects were randomly allocated to receive either nutritionally-sourced tryptophan ( g daily) or placebo in a double-blind, parallel group, design. Tryptophan supplementation failed to modify the dieting-induced reduction in fasting tryptophan availability to the brain. However, in contrast to placebo-treated subjects, subjects receiving additional tryptophan did not show enhanced prolactin responses to intravenous tryptophan challenge. The decrease in tryptophan availability produced by dieting may be due to increased tryptophan metabolism rather than decreased tryptophan intake. While tryptophan treatment did not increase fasting tryptophan availability it may have modified the effect of dieting on brain serotonin function. Further studies will test the effect of tryptophan has consequences for the effectiveness of dieting as means of weight control.
Despite the focus on the growing number of overweight children, there are also many kids whose health would benefit from putting on additional weight. The solution is not as simple as letting underweight kids indulge in their junk food fantasies, though. Instead, a mixture of changing eating behaviors, choosing nutritious high-calorie foods, and “sneaking” extra calories into meals is best approach to increasing weight in children. Always consult a medical professional first, however, if you are concerned that your child may be underweight.