Food is specially prepared to meet the requirements of the body, mind, and spirit in attaining the goals of dark room enlightenment. Fresh juices and soups are served for “breakfast” and a light organic meal is prepared for the afternoon. The diet consists of simple, often liquid foods.
Seaweed and blue green algae meet many of the general dietary requirements, supplying high concentrations of the eight essential amino acids required by the body (see below). Fresh juices, especially from the noni (Morinda) fruit, supply the metabolic enzymes necessary for developing the neuro-endocrine system to its highest potential.
Sufficient levels of tryptophan are especially important for the Dark Room experience. Tryptophan is one of 20 amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of proteins. It is one of the eight “essential” amino acids, meaning it cannot be synthesized by the body from other amino acids, and must therefore be ingested in foods. Adults need from 3.5 mg/kg/day to 350-500 mg of tryptophan per day.
As tryptophan crosses the blood-brain barrier, it is converted to serotonin with the assistance of vitamins B6, B12 and folate. Tryptophan is also converted in the body to niacin (vitamin B-3) and picolinic acid. Giving high doses of vitamin B-6 along with tryptophan increases its conversion to niacin and decreases its uptake into the nervous system. Low blood tryptophan levels have been reported in depressed patients and are corrected with tryptophan supplementation. Tryptophan is better absorbed in the brain when consumed as part of a high carbohydrate meal.
Some of the tryptophan-rich foods available at Tao Garden, and recommended for the Dark Room retreat, are listed below, along with several other tryptophan-rich foods.
Tryptophan-Rich Foods at Tao Garden
- Seaweed, blue-green algae
- Tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy beans
- Brown rice
- Bananas, dates, figs
- Watermelon seeds
- Fish and other seafoods
Other Tryptophan-Rich Foods
- Cottage cheese
- Milk and milk products
- Almonds, soy nuts
- Brewer’s yeast
- Animal protein: beef, turkey …
Levels of tryptophan in some common foods:
- Fish & other seafoods 800-1,300 mg/lb
- Meats 1,000-1,300 mg/lb
- Poultry 600-1,200 mg/lb
- Peanuts, roasted w skin 800 mg/lb
- Sesame seeds 700 mg/lb
- Dry, whole lentils 450 mg/lb
B6 (pyridoxene); Sources: Meats, fish, green leafy vegetables, legumes, bananas, whole grains
B12 (Cobalamin); Found almost exclusively in animal products (meats, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, yeast, cheese) (http://nutrition.about.com/library/blvitb12.htm).
Some References on Tryptophan:
Blue Green Algae
Algae are the fundamental basis of the entire food chain – the foundational nutrient source for creating and renewing all life on earth. Blue green algae are the cr?me de la cr?me of all algae, one of the planet’s most powerful foods. This single-celled organism (actually a bacterium) is richly endowed with a vast array of easily assimilated nutrients including essential fatty acids, active enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, proteins, complex sugars, and phytonutrients.
Blue green algae have an amino acid profile that is nearly in exact proportion to the requirements of the human body. It contains over 60 minerals and trace minerals in naturally chelated form so the body can absorb them into the cells. With the exception of vitamins D and K, all vitamins are present to provide fuel for our cells (Vitamin D and K are produced naturally by our body). Blue green algae contain the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) Omega-3 and Omega-6, and are one of the highest known natural food sources of beta carotene (a cell regenerator and potent neutralizer of free radicals) and chlorophyll (excellent chelating ability to escort toxins out of the body). The food is also 97% assimilable, digestible and useable by the body.
Spirulina, a spiraled blue green alga, is one of the most common nutritional varieties of blue green algae. A spirulina factory is located outside of Chiang Mai (see www.boonsomfarm.com/).