Nutritional Effects on Performance Part 2

Nutritional Effects on Performance Part 2


As little as 2% dehydration results in 50% reduced performance. This was a study recently completed on military pilots. 2% drop in body water triggers fuzzy, short-term memory, trouble with basic math, difficulty with focusing on small fonts or even the computer screen. Even mild dehydration will slow down your metabolism as much as 3%. Number one trigger of daytime fatigue. Symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, and headache. The absence of these symptoms (which could also apply to other conditions in your body) does NOT mean you are not dehydrated. It simply means you’re not dehydrated to the point of being symptomatic. Thirst is not necessarily a good indicator. Adequate fluids also help deter motion sickness. ëCauses: Not enough water intake (coffee, tea or sodas don’t count towards total water intake). Also caused by pressurized aircraft, air-conditioned rooms, drinking sodas, coffee or sweetened drinks. ëSolution: How much is enough? 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 120 pounds, you need to drink 60 ounces of water per day in 4oz increments every half hour or so.


There is the same amount of alcohol in a 12 oz bottle of beer as there is in 1.5 oz vodka or 5 oz wine. Sugar and carbonation increase absorption of alcohol in the body. Alcohol sometimes replaces water in the cell structure of the brain. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. Less than .02% alcohol in the blood causes loss of discrimination, loss of fine motor control, and reduced concentration and memory. Heavy drinkers lose about 100,000 brain cells per day. Even if you don’t drink heavily, you are still losing up to 10 times the normal attrition of brain cells. People are impaired because they cannot think or work quickly in an emergency. They can’t respond instinctively, quickly or appropriately to given scenarios. It’s difficult to recognize a problem or assess what the problem is, much less remedy it in an efficient, and timely manner. Multi-tasking is greatly diminished. It increases susceptibility to confusion, disorientation and decreased mental alertness. It also impairs discrimination and perception in the visual and auditory systems, disrupts short and long term memory, the thinking process, and coordinated hand-eye movements. It lowers inhibitions and increases recklessness. Higher mental and reflex functions can be affected for 2-3 days after a drink. Some of the impairments experienced in one study included decreased reaction time, judgment of distances and heights is compromised, visual acuity is diminished and coordination skills are seriously eroded. The most subjective problem is an inability to think clearly and to make sound decisions. Generally, you are unaware that your performance is impaired. Alcohol allows people to do dumb things without even recognizing the seriousness of his or her actions or inactions. When under the influence of alcohol, the usually conscientious and careful person loses the normal attitude of caution. The person under the influence will take chances not ordinarily considered when sober. These deficits can occur with blood levels less than .02% and even 14-24 hours after blood levels return to 0 percent. Alcohol affects the cardiovascular system for up to 24 hours or more. Common problems include heart block, extra beats, problems with conduction, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and eventually an enlarged heart. Alcohol is a diuretic. At some point, the kidneys stop functioning and start retaining the fluids. Fluid retention in the brain causes vasodilation which causes headaches. Alcohol also induces hypoglycemia that can last for hours. Alcohol itself is a sugar and adds to the highs and lows of blood sugar swings that can cause many problems as mentioned earlier.

Alcohol contributes to fatigue because sleep is impaired, despite the fact that the user appears to be sleeping deeply.

Hangovers: Foods such as MSG, processed meats/hot dogs/salami/ham and bacon, cheese, and chocolate will accentuate a hangover. Coffee and oxygen do not improve the poor performance symptoms. It makes the person feel better but actually is dangerous because it reinforces the person already thinking he’s not impaired. Withdrawal can be just as dangerous.

Withdrawal: Irritability, irascibility, anxiety, increased heart rate, muscular tremors, and sweating, inability to sit still, lapses of attention, noise sensitivity, hallucinations, confusion and memory deficits, irrational behavior, fear and agitation that last up to 48-72 hours later. Even slight remnants of alcohol degrade performance. When someone has consumed alcohol, the alcohol stays in the fluid in the inner ear for up to 72 hours. Post-alcohol impairment can last as long as 72 hours.


CAFFEINE: Should be considered a drug. It reduces reaction time, increases heart rate, causes vasoconstriction, decreases coronary circulation, causes an irregular pulse, increases blood pressure in some, contributes to dehydration, and affects mental function, causes anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, panic disorders or states resembling panic disorders, irritability and headaches, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, periods of inexhaustibility followed by a “crash”, psychomotor agitation, and gastrointestinal disturbance. Coffee consumption has been shown to be closely linked to bladder, mammary, and pancreatic cancer as well as to heart attacks. Diuretic. Decaf coffee has the presence of homocysteines, which has been considered a strong factor in increasing cholesterol levels and in cardiovascular disease. Even drinking two cups daily raises cholesterol levels, and effects blood pressure. The fluoride and aluminum in black and green teas cause neurological and renal damage. Green tea has been found to decrease cerebrum calcium and increase aluminum levels. The cerebrum is the portion of the brain where thought and higher function reside. High brain levels of aluminum, as it binds to fluoride ions in water, has long been associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. In the brain, aluminum fluoride causes short term memory loss, smell sensory loss, unsteady gait and loss of structures of the neocortex and hippocampus, all symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Aluminum fluoride is also associated with depressed thyroid function. The thyroid hormones are extremely important in the regulation of metabolic processes and brain development. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. One of the main symptoms of hypothyroidism associated with excess aluminum fluoride is extreme fatigue and marked weakness. Thyroid disorders can induce disturbances of mood and intellectual function, depressive and manic-depressive disorders and rage. In addition, the acid in coffee eats away the villi of the small intestines, reducing their effectiveness in assimilating nutrients. As a result, most coffee drinkers are deficient in calcium and many minerals. Coffee affects the mineralization of the body. It demineralizes bones, contributing to osteoporosis. Therefore, the acid in coffee causes as many problems as the caffeine does. Caffeine also disturbs normal sleep rhythms. It reduces Stage 4 and REM. It can be found in the blood 5 minutes after consumption and half of it is still found in the blood 3 1/2 hours later. Although coffee is used to keep us energetic and alert, its ability to override feelings of drowsiness and fatigue usually backfires the day after. Caffeine amps up the adrenals, which is what gives the energy, but then it slams the adrenals as a result. Long-term coffee consumption depletes the adrenals and results in constant fatigue. For example, people drink coffee or tea frequently as a pick-me-up. The problem with that is what goes up, must come down.

Withdrawal From Coffee Signs & Symptoms:

Significant fatigue, worsened cognitive performance – especially on vigilance tasks, causes headaches, irritability, nervousness and anxiety, interference with sleep, shakiness, tearfulness, food cravings, constipation, generalized aching and back pain. Pre-existing symptoms may recur or be exacerbated during withdrawal. Abdominal pains, cramping, and nausea frequently occur.

Less common symptoms include: chills, diarrhea, nose congestion, sore throat, decreased hearing and even deafness, drowsiness, rage, depression and feeling emotional. For some, the symptoms resemble withdrawal from narcotic drugs or alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms tend to build in the first day, peaking by day 2 or 3, then diminishing. Be aware that occasionally the symptoms can be delayed for several days, and then hit. The more coffee you drink, the worse your symptoms will be.


Eating sugar reduces brain fuel. To burn sugar in the cell’s mitochondria, neurons require extra oxygen and other nutrients. Oxygen is further reduced to the brain by clogging the arteries with fats. Contains caffeine and has those associated problems. Displaces calcium and minerals contribute to osteoporosis and hypoglycemia.


Smoking 3 consecutive cigarettes, or 20-30 cigarettes in a 24 hour period of time results in 8-10% hemoglobin saturation in the body. Not only does this decrease oxygenation resulting in decreased brain function, but also 20% of a smoker’s night vision is lost. Nicotine causes increased physiological arousal, even though the person may feel relaxed. This gives a false sense of self-confidence in the performance of tasks, and he thinks his concentration is better, also false. It has been demonstrated that a smoker’s reaction time is reduced, complex tasks are performed less efficiently and short term memory is also worse. These factors are enhanced by concurrent intake of alcohol. The carbon monoxide released in cigarette smoke has its own problems. Hemoglobin prefers to bind to carbon dioxide instead of oxygen, so less oxygen is available to the brain. In addition, due to its effect on the central nervous system, there is the loss of visual discrimination and judgment, there is a loss of manual dexterity and memory and reduction in vigilant task performance.

Withdrawal: Depression, difficulties in concentration, irritability and frustration.


No drug is safe. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories are some of the worst. Not just strong medications such as Vicodin or Darvocet, but also ibuprofen and aspirin have detrimental effects on performance. Ibuprofen is taken by many for headaches, but can also CAUSE headaches, and severe ones at that. Aspirin can cause ringing in the ears, vertigo and partial or total hearing loss. Concurrent use of Vitamin C with aspirin slows the excretion of aspirin from the body, causing a toxic buildup, exposing you to higher levels than you think you may have. Antibiotics: The penicillin family has substantial evidence of the ability to cause convulsions. Streptomycin causes a measurable hearing loss in 15% of people who ingest it, damaging delicate vestibular structures. The result is vertigo and spatial disorientation. Neomycin and vancomycin adversely affect hearing. Antihistamines and decongestants affect performance. Drowsiness is one of the main symptoms, but also depression, dizziness, impaired visual acuity, rapid heart rate and decreased coordination. Decongestants tend more to make you jittery or nervous while cough suppressants can have a similar effect as alcohol and tend to make you drowsy as well. A few types of antihistamines and decongestants have more serious side effects such as blurred vision, vertigo, increased blood sugar, decreased coordination, and increased heart rate or blood pressure. PPA’s (phenylpropanolamine) found in both decongestants and diet pills cause restlessness, headache, dizziness, disorientation, confusion, agitation and even hallucinations.


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