Steve Jobs swore by a fruit diet, as he believed it improved his ideas. And he wasn’t wrong: food with high levels of tyrosine, like bananas, peaches and almonds, allow us to think harder and more creatively. Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato published an article on the subject on 26 September in Psychological Research.
Become better at solving puzzles
The researchers found that the test subjects who drank orange juice with added tyrosine were better at solving puzzles than those who were administered a placebo. Colzato said: ‘Food rich in Tyrosine and food supplements that include tyrosine are a healthy and cheap way to increase our ability to think deeply. For instance, students who have to sit for an exam can benefit from added tyrosine.’
The results of the research support claims made by creative people, who argue that specific foods help them to overcome mental obstacles. Colzato: ‘Take a look at, for instance, former boss of Apple, Steve Jobs, one of the most creative minds of our time. He often claimed that his fruit diet formed the basis of his successes. And as fruit is rich in tyrosine, that might not be such a weird statement after all.’
The research method
Colzato asked the 32 subjects participating in the research to visit the test lab twice. They were given orange juice to drink on both occasions: the first time it included added tyrosine, while a placebo was added during the second visit. They were then required to solve various puzzles surrounding two main aspects of creative thinking:
- Divergent thinking — to quickly come up with diverse solutions for basic problems. For example, what kind of things could you possibly do with a pen?
- Convergent thinking — this, on the other hand, does focus on long and deep thinking. For example, what is the connection between three words that, at first sight, have absolutely nothing to with each other?
What is tyrosine?
Tyrosine is an amino acid that increases the production of dopamine in the brain, which positively influences our ability to think creatively. It can be found in various kinds of fruit, but also in soybeans, spinach, eggs and cottage cheese.
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