Showing posts with label amino acids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amino acids. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Can Your Diet Make You Happier?

Experts are recognizing that what you eat and other important health and wellness practices may contribute to your level of happiness. Which eating habits can you adopt that will help you and your family members obtain maximum happiness?

How can your diet make you happier?

Research supports the idea that what you eat may help or hinder your mood, sense of wellbeing, and overall happiness. Consuming a balanced diet is essential to good health. Consult with your doctor or healthcare provider regarding the use of supplements.

What are the building blocks of eating for happiness?

Amino acids are essential for wellbeing. Animal-based sources of amino acids include meats, fish, milk, and eggs. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can get these acids from plant sources including soy, beans, legumes, and some grains. Too much caffeine in your diet, excessive exercise, stress, and your genes may deplete your amino acids.
Serotonin is essential for balancing your mood. Lack of serotonin may cause anxiety, panic, anger, and pessimism. Experts suggest that consuming tryptophan-rich foods like milk can help you obtain necessary amounts of this important building block.
 Catecholamines are hormones made by your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. They support alertness, energy, concentration, and drive.
Gaba is a brain chemical related to a sense of calm and relaxation. Prolonged stress or a diet lacking in nutrients may cause a gaba deficiency. If you need more gaba in your life, consume more shrimp, oolong tea, cherry tomatoes, and kefir probiotic drink.
Endorphins may be affected by genetics, chronic stress, and physical pain. You can build your endorphins with spicy foods, chocolate, herbal teas, and energy drinks.
Omega-3s are the key to building healthy brain cells. Get your omega-3 acids by eating fatty fish, pastured meat, dairy products, walnuts, and flax seeds.
Zinc/B6 are important nutrients for brain function. Chicken, pork, and beans contain zinc; tuna, turkey, beef, and eggs are all high in vitamin B6.

Check out the government's Medline Plus website for more information on amino acids.

How do you ensure you have all the building blocks in your diet?

In some cases, your body may produce a building block, and you need to be aware that you don't deplete it. In other instances, consuming the right foods might be the answer. In some cases, it may be necessary to take supplements. You should always check with your doctor or healthcare provider for guidance.

What are other considerations?

Digestion is a key component of the happiness lifestyle. Properly digesting food is essential to maximizing the nutrients you take in from the food you eat. Factors such as diet, medications, stress, disease, and alcoholism can alter or impair your body’s digestion.

Stable blood sugar is key to balance, wellbeing, and a positive mood. Consuming protein is essential to achieving blood sugar stabilization. Too much sugar or caffeine in your diet can have a negative effect on your blood sugar.

How do lifestyle factors play a role in happiness?

Sleep remains an important ingredient of a happy life.
Exercise is key. Regular exercise, even for a few minutes a day, is a must for a well-balanced lifestyle.
Find ways to manage stress or remove stressors from your life. Excessive stress can have a negative impact on your wellbeing.
Drinking adequate water throughout a day is important to preventing dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Don’t forget the fun! Participate in sports, activities, or hobbies that make you feel good, challenge you, and have a positive effect on your sense of self-worth.

Adopt these building blocks and lifestyle factors, and you and your family will enjoy reaping the benefits of living a happier life!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tripping Out on Tryptophan

Truth and fiction about tryptophan, poultry, and how it affects you 

If you’ve heard the word tryptophan, it was probably around Thanksgiving or Christmas conversations – times when many Americans go hog-wild for turkey. The context is usually around the common post-feast sleepiness. You may be surprised to find that many things you thought were true about tryptophan could be wrong. Here are some facts and tips about tryptophan that are not only useful to your health knowledge but will also be great information you can share as conversation starters at holiday gatherings.

What is tryptophan?

Tryptophan is one of many essential amino acids. For most of us, that begs the question, what is an amino acid? Amino acid is a compound that combines to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins together are considered the building blocks of life.  

Important stuff, right? Indeed: Infants require tryptophan for normal, healthy growth.  Adults benefit from its nitrogen balancing properties.

Even more important to note is the term essential amino acid. Essential means that it is a type of amino acid that our body does not produce by itself. The only way we get it is from our diets.  

Does tryptophan cause sleepiness and fatigue?

Does tryptophan cause sleepiness?
Sort of yes, and sort of no. The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin, which our bodies use to make melatonin – a hormone that aides in the regulation of your sleep and awake cycles. What this means is that turkey is capable of affecting a state of relaxation and restfulness, but no more so than any other protein food.  

But does it cause sleepiness? Not necessarily. The sleepiness you feel after gorging yourself on a massive holiday feast is more likely the result of "feast-induced drowsiness" – the result of consuming any heavy meal that is rich in carbohydrate. 

When we gorge ourselves, our bodies rightly focus on digestion to deal with the overload, which focuses blood into the digestive organs. So the inclination to snooze after eating a large feast is our body’s way of shutting down bodily processes so that it can focus its attention on digestion. 

What does tryptophan do then?

The amino acid tryptophan helps you regulate your sleep and wake cycles, and can elevate your mood.  Many people have found that increasing their intake of tryptophan has helped reduce problems with anxiety, impulsiveness, problems with concentration, weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, and depression. 

Any tryptophan downsides? If you are eating foods that contain tryptophan, no. It was once believed that tryptophan could have some dangerous sideeffects, based on some early studies. As a result, tryptophan was removed from the supplementation market. However, no subsequent studies have shown any negative side effects from eating too much turkey. So there is no such thing as tripping out on tryptophan! Have as much as you want.

Turkey is the best source of tryptophan, right?

Actually, no. Turkey is one source of tryptophan – a good one – but it is not the only source and not even the food with the most of it. 

You can boost your tryptophan level by consuming foods with protein; nearly all foods with protein naturally contain some tryptophan, although often in small amounts relative to the other essential amino acids

Particularly good sources of tryptophan include:
amino acids
Turkey is a good source of tryptophan,
but there are other sources too!
  • Chicken
  • Legumes
  • Red meats
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Tuna
  • Shellfish
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • And, yes: turkey
But should you want a serious boost of tryptophan, start with the top item on the above list:  chicken. In the average serving of chicken, you get nearly 130 percent of the daily recommended intake of tryptophan; that's about 11 percentage points more tryptophan per serving than you will find in turkeyTurkey provides 118.7 percent of the daily recommended intake of tryptophan. Therefore, it is certainly correct to say that turkey is a good tryptophan source too, as is any poultry food. But start with chicken to really “beef up” on this essential amino acid. 

Learn more about tryptophan sources and side effects

If this article has whetted your appetite for more information on tryptophan, and how you can benefit from it, check out these resources:
Now that you know the positive benefits of tryptophan, why not put some more of it in your diet? To help you get started, click here for a selection of recipes for turkey. Or to keep that tryptophan coming, check out these turkey leftovers recipes

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer