How Does Giving Thanks Affect The Brain? : Brain Foods

Article by Jason T Gomez

Thanksgiving is a time to remember to be grateful for all that we have and for the entire year of good things we’ve reaped. In light of the many trials and tribulations this year has had for many of us, we may find ourselves wondering what there is to be grateful for? However, I can assure you there is always something to give thanks for, like for your brain and the ability to even read this article!

Gratitude can be used as a tool to move into a more positive state of mind and an overall better state of brain health. Scientist have found that kind, grateful thoughts and words cause chemical changes in the brain that work much like antidepressants bringing on a sense of peace and calmness that would rival the best pharmaceuticals, but best of all, its free!


In the face of adversity, the key is to start being grateful for those little things, be it the shoes on your feet or for someone’s kind words. To begin, realizing and recognizing one’s state of mind and the emotional setting one is in is critical. This level of awareness is necessary so you can take note and encounter your feelings and then begin to identify and change the thoughts that brought you to that emotional state in the first place.

So, when I notice my shoulder’s tightening up and I’m snapping at my co-workers or family it’s a clear sign that I’m not in the emotional place I want to be. Taking note and acknowledging how I’m feeling is the segue for self-reflection and noticing what thoughts brought me to the frustration I may be feeling and being okay with it.

Then I can easily and safely transition into a different state of mind and emotional space by adjusting my thoughts from the worry of some future event to the small things I’m grateful that I failed to notice because I was too busy pumping toxic thoughts through mind. No wonder I felt stressed!

Here is where gratitude and thankfulness play a huge role, these thoughts automatically trigger a different neurological pattern that is more associated with calmness and wellness. So give it a try, next time you notice yourself stressing…accept and acknowledge, identify and segue, and replace and run healthy thoughts through your mind so you can positively influence and affect your brain for the better!


Ever wonder why you feel tired after eating turkey on Thanksgiving? The popular answer is that turkey contains a lot of Tryptophan, right? Well, this is only partially true.

Tryptophan is an amino acid converted by the brain to 5-HTP, then to Serotonin, which in turn is converted into Melatonin. This is great because it assists sleep, clearly plays a role in balancing mood and sleep patterns and has also shown benefits for a variety of disorders, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, migraine headaches, back pain, weight loss and sleep disturbances.

But you can’t blame your Thanksgiving drowsiness solely on Turkey. The high load of heavy carbohydrates that go along with the turkey is also to blame. The key here, is to eat the other foods that are even higher in Tryptophan like Tofu, Black and English Walnuts, Almonds, Sesame Seeds, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and Gluten flour. These are going to give you more of what you really want from the meal (a nice healthy nights rest) and less of what you don’t want (a gut-busting Thanksgiving hangover!).

Surprisingly the best source of Tryptophan is in a 5-HTP supplement. Why?Well, Tryptophan needs a transport molecule to pass the blood brain barrier. Whole foods contain other amino acids besides Tryptophan and so compete for the transport molecule, so very little of the Tryptophan is able to get through to the brain. So if you’re looking to increase your amount of tryptophan than a nice 5-HTP supplement may be in order.

So, this Thanksgiving try being grateful in thoughts as well as in action and words and eat less of the carbs and more of the things that are going to help your brain stay nice and healthy.

Written by Jason Thomas Gomez, Director of Marketing Communications and Client Care and CC Chapman, Trainer and Nutritionist at BrainHarmony Biofeedback Center in Newport Beach.

BrainHarmony, Inc, is an industry leader in the area of Brain Fitness. Our training center is powered by Brain State Technologies, a developer of state of the art software and technology that combines traditional EEG Biofeedback / Neurofeedback with a non-evasive approach to balancing, harmonizing, and optimizing the brain.

For more information about BrainHarmony and Biofeedback, Inc. simply log onto, email,

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