An Amino Acid for Creativity

               When you’re looking for a boost to amp up your creativity, it’s easy to start off with the usual nootropics (and, more often than not, that common nootropic usually an arm’s length away: coffee).  However, creativity may start off more with the foundations of your diet, instead of things you add in to supplement it.

                According to new research from cognitive psychologists, some of the nutrients and neurotransmitter building blocks that are in fruit and almonds may have a key role in boosting creativity.  Some proponents of the all-fruit diet believe that consuming an all-fruit diet gives you access to levels of unparalleled nutrients and vitamins which makes all the difference for their enhanced cognitive processing.  Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was one of these people who believed that being a fruitarian gave him the ability to think outside the box and innovate some of the more complex facets of technology.

                So, what exactly is in fruits and almonds that may hold the key to boosting creativity?  Researchers believe that it’s due to higher levels of tyrosine, a common amino acid which boosts dopamine production in the brain.  Along with fruit, tyrosine can be found in eggs, spinach, soybeans, and cottage cheese. 

                To test their hypothesis, researchers added tyrosine to orange juice and tested participants’ ability to solve cognitive puzzles which required two types of creative thinking.  For the second part of the experiment, the participants were given orange juice without tyrosine.  The types of creative thinking were divided into divergent and convergent thinking, as divergent thinking is related to thinking of all the possible ways you might utilize an object, and convergent thinking is related to longer and more complex thought processes like finding ways words are connected to each other beyond the obvious.

                The participants who drank the juice with added tyrosine solved puzzles better than those who drank the orange juice alone.  As tyrosine is found in fruits like peaches, bananas, and almonds, it may well give a boost to those who consume a lot of fruit.  The highest amounts of tyrosine are found in meat, tofu, cheese, whole grains, beans, and nuts, so it’s easy to find tyrosine no matter what type of diet you follow.  Supplementing with tyrosine is also a way to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount, and providing your body with the building blocks for dopamine and adrenaline promotes cognitive flexibility as well.


Further Reading

Lorenza S. Colzato, Annelies M. de Haan, Bernhard Hommel. Food for creativity: tyrosine promotes deep thinking. Psychological Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00426-014-0610-4

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