The Best Diet for Pilots
As pilots, there are a variety of things they must focus on to ensure that they get all passengers safely from point A to point B. Their job is incredibly crucial, and the last thing someone wants is for a pilot who is sleep deprived or cannot seem to stay alert. This is why what a pilot eats is important to ensure everyone on their plane has a safe flight.
Specific Chemicals to Focus On
With any diet, there are specific nutrients that a person needs for the mind and body to continue performing efficiently. In order for a body to receive the maximum amount of nutrients it needs, there are four specific chemicals that significantly impact a pilot's ability to sleep and stay awake and alert.
The first chemical is Tyrosine, a non-essential amino acid produced in the body by Phenylalanine. It aids in keeping the body and mind in a state of alertness. Tryptophan, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. This chemical is an essential amino acid found in most proteins. It increases Serotonin levels in the brain, which aids in relaxation. Speaking of Serotonin, this chemical is derived from Tryptophan and is mainly found in the gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, and the platelets of humans. It aids in a person feeling content and calm.
The final chemical is Dopamine, a catecholamine neurotransmitter with various functions in the brain. These functions include a person's behavior and cognition, motivation, punishment and reward, and voluntary movement. It also aids a pilot's mood, attention, memory, and sleep.
Because most of these chemicals are found in food, it is no wonder why what a pilot eats daily is essential to ensure safe flights for all passengers.
Foods to Stay Awake
In order to ensure a pilot remains awake and alert, they need to focus on meals with higher amounts of protein and fewer carbohydrates to increase the amounts of Tyrosine in their brains.
Some of these foods include a variety of nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds. For proteins, they should focus on seafood like tuna, salmon, cod, and lobster. If they are not a fan of seafood, more good protein options include lean beef, chicken, and turkey. To get more protein that does not need to be cooked, they could look into protein or green superfood powder, which would be a good option if a pilot needs to be quick to make their next flight.
Certain dairy products such as parmesan, Swiss cheese, and milk would also aid in alertness. Also, even to remain alert, a pilot should avoid too many carbs. However, some carbs are great for staying awake. Wild and brown rice, quinoa, oats, and wheat bran are great carbohydrate choices. To increase a pilot's level of Dopamine, they will want to also focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoid foods that are high in sugar, saturated fats, and cholesterol since those will cause lower levels of Dopamine in the brain.
Foods to Help with Sleep
Along with staying alert, it is equally essential for a pilot to get a good night of sleep; for that to happen, they need to eat food high in Tryptophan.
The main proteins that increase the levels of Tryptophan include lamb, turkey, rabbit, chicken, and fish. They could also eat other seafood such as clams, scallops, and shrimp. A variety of beans and lentils are also good. Dairy products also help with healthy sleep, such as cheddar, mozzarella, cottage cheese, and milk.
Some may be confused since there are many of the same foods on each list, but the difference is the intake of carbs. They need to avoid carbs for alertness, while for sleep, they can allow more carbs. It is all about balance.
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