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Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States
Professor of Saxophone, James Madison University

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Talent Diet?

We know that myelin in the brain is the key to developing new skills, and obtaining mastery.  Myelin is composed mostly of fat, but according to the Franklin Institute, the kind of fat matters.  Oleic acid is what you want, and you can find it in fish, olive oil, almonds, peanuts, and avocados.  Not only is a good diet helpful, but a poor diet is destructive.  If you eat a lot of fast food, those trans fats are going to make their way into your myelin sheaths.  Trans fat inhibits proper performance of the myelin sheath.

It is even possible that early humans surpassed Neanderthals because the diet of the latter was mostly red meat, leaving the Neanderthal brain undernourished.  Early humans had a more balanced diet, and seafood could have helped them to evolve bigger, more powerful brains.

This information is particularly important for college students.  It appears that a balanced diet rich in good fat will actually help you to build skills more quickly by supporting myelin production.  If you starve yourself, or consume trans fats, you are actually slowing your progress.

The next time you sit down to practice, make sure that you have given your body the fuel it needs to make the most of your hard work!

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