The Wonders of Bacon This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 25, 2013
When I am upset, I crave bacon. It seems to bring out the good in everything. The sky is brighter when I eat bacon; the grass is greener; the glass is half full. Bacon just makes everything all right. I feel re-energized, alert, happy. Bacon is my substance of choice for mood enhancement, as it optimally raises my dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine levels with no negative side effects – besides a bit of potential weight gain that's easily avoided by exercise.

From an evolutionary standpoint, bacon is the ideal food. Back in the day when people ate to survive, before nutritionists, cravings helped us maintain the right balance of carbs to fat to protein, as well as consume the necessary vitamins and minerals. Protein, found primarily in meat, proved to be one of the hardest nutrients for the early humans to get, since they had to hunt animals to obtain it. Because of protein's importance in the human diet and the difficulty of obtaining it, our body's reward system for proteins tends to be much stronger than for any other nutrient. Carbs may result in an increased level of serotonin, but protein releases tyrosine into the bloodstream, which causes the release of massive amounts of dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Bacon also has a great fat-to-protein ratio. Fats are another crucial nutrient because they are effectively concentrated, stored carbs that can be converted into ATP for energy on a cellular level. With nine calories of energy per gram, one gram of fat is enough to sustain an average person in an inactive, waking state for ten minutes.

This means that the average slice of bacon can sustain the average person for about an hour. Maybe 24 slices of bacon a day is not the healthiest ration, but on a dreary, rainy day, that is pretty close to what I eat. I sometimes add some eggs, pastries, orange juice, and multi-vitamins to the mix for a more balanced diet.

Just thinking about a warm, crunchy, greasy, delicious plate of bacon with a side of steaming chocolate chip pancakes is triggering my lateral hypothalamus. My pituitary gland is telling my mouth to water, my stomach to growl and prepare digestive enzymes, and is releasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Today may not be a dreary, rainy day, but I'm still craving bacon's crunchy goodness. Luckily, I can control my cravings.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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