QUICK NU­TRI­TION: Don’t Worry, Eat Happy

EAT­ING WHOLE FOODS HELPS US FEEL BET­TER

Alternative Medicine - - News - BY KAREN WANG DIGGS, CNC

Karen Wang Diggs, CNC, de­scribes the dif­fer­ence be­tween whole, en­riched, and for­ti­fied foods and gives tips on how to pack the most nu­tri­ents into your diet. Mean­while, Tina Turbin sup­plies nu­tri­tious recipes to add to your weekly din­ner ro­ta­tion.

Most peo­ple don’t re­al­ize that what they put into their mouths has a di­rect cor­re­la­tion with how they feel. Con­clu­sions drawn from a study done in the United King­dom and pub­lished in The Bri­tish Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try shows that a pro­cessed food di­etary pat­tern is a risk fac­tor for de­pres­sion, whereas a whole-food pat­tern is pro­tec­tive.

Whole vs. En­riched vs. For­ti­fied

Since most mod­ern pro­cessed foods are en­riched or for­ti­fied with vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, all is well, right? Ac­tu­ally, no. First, let’s look at the dif­fer­ence be­tween “en­riched” and “for­ti­fied.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Academy of Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics, “en­riched” means that nu­tri­ents de­stroyed dur­ing pro­cess­ing have been added back to a food. For ex­am­ple, rice that has been stripped of nu­tri­ents may be en­riched with B vi­ta­mins. For­ti­fy­ing in­volves adding nu­tri­ents to a food that were not nat­u­rally there. An ex­am­ple is or­ange juice that has vi­ta­min D added.

So, is eat­ing pro­cessed foods that are en­riched or for­ti­fied the same as eat­ing whole foods? Marion Nes­tle, author of Food Pol­i­tics and pro­fes­sor of nu­tri­tion, food stud­ies, and pub­lic health at New York Univer­sity, thinks not. “Pro­cess­ing de­stroys nu­tri­ents, and the more pro­cess­ing there is, the more de­struc­tion you get. ‘For­ti­fi­ca­tion’ adds back some nu­tri­ents, so over­all you’re bet­ter off with a pro­cessed for­ti­fied food than a pro­cessed un­for­ti­fied one. But a whole food is al­ways go­ing to be su­pe­rior.”

Fun­da­men­tally, whole foods nour­ish us by pro­vid­ing com­plex struc­tures of nu­tri­ents from a va­ri­ety of en­zymes, coen­zymes, an­tiox­i­dants, vi­ta­mins, and min­er­als that work syn­er­gis­ti­cally to­gether.

Good Moods with Whole Food

What is the con­nec­tion be­tween whole foods and feel­ing good? Our di­ges­tive sys­tem is re­ally a tech­no­log­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated lab­o­ra­tory in which in­gre­di­ents we in­gest are trans­formed into “pre­cious sub­stances” that we need to sur­vive phys­i­cally and to thrive emo­tion­ally. Just as the best ma­te­ri­als are needed to build a solid, beau­ti­ful home, we also need the best whole, or­ganic in­gre­di­ents to build a happy, healthy body and mind. Those pre­cious sub­stances are neu­ro­trans­mit­ters.

Neu­ro­trans­mit­ters are made of pro­tein and they help us func­tion, act­ing as “bridges” be­tween neu­rons to di­rect cell to cell com­mu­ni­ca­tion. They are the spark plugs that de­fine our moods. While there are hun­dreds of neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, there are a few well– stud­ied ones that af­fect our mood and be­hav­ior.

DOPAMINE WHAT IT DOES: Helps to con­trol the brain’s re­ward and plea­sure cen­ters, reg­u­lates move­ment and emo­tional re­sponses, and en­ables us not only to an­tic­i­pate re­wards, but to take nec­es­sary steps to move to­wards them SIGNS OF DE­FI­CIENCY: In­abil­ity to con­cen­trate, obe­sity, fa­tigue, low li­bido, and de­pres­sion (com­mon in low-pro­tein di­ets) DE­FI­CIENCY CAN TRIG­GER: Crav­ings for al­co­hol, caf­feine, sugar, or choco­late FOODS THAT BOOST LEVEL: Foods high in ty­ro­sine, such as dairy, al­monds, av­o­cado, pump­kin and se­same seeds, and an­i­mal pro­tein

ACETYL­CHOLINE WHAT IT DOES: Crit­i­cal for mem­ory, such as rec­ol­lec­tion of events, names, and num­bers, also af­fects our abil­ity to learn and our pro­cess­ing speed SIGNS OF DE­FI­CIENCY: For­get­ful­ness (where you parked your car, placed your keys, phone num­ber), para­noia, loss of cre­ativ­ity, and want­ing to be alone (com­mon in low-fat di­ets) DE­FI­CIENCY CAN TRIG­GER: Craving for fatty foods such as ice cream, cheese­cake, and fried foods FOODS TO HELP BOOST LEVEL: Healthy fats, choline-con­tain­ing foods such as eggs, beef liver, cau­li­flower, and lacto-fer­mented veg­eta­bles SERO­TONIN WHAT IT DOES: Brings a sense of joy, so­cial en­gage­ment, healthy self-es­teem, and good di­ges­tion SIGNS OF DE­FI­CIENCY: In­som­nia, wak­ing fre­quently dur­ing the night, IBS, PMS, aches and pains, anx­i­ety, sad­ness, and de­pres­sion DE­FI­CIENCY TRIG­GERS: Crav­ings for carbs, sugar, and salt, in­creased ap­petite in the late evening, es­pe­cially for carbs FOODS TO HELP BOOST LEVEL: Foods high in tryp­to­phan such as poul­try, lamb, sar­dines, cashews, and sweet pota­toes

GABA (GAMMA AMINO BU­TYRIC ACID) WHAT IT DOES: Pro­motes sound sleep, helps re­lax­ation, helps to tol­er­ate stress and pain, sup­ports good di­ges­tion and se­dates SIGNS OF DE­FI­CIENCY: In­som­nia, anx­i­ety, low tol­er­ance for pain, heart­burn, headaches, IBS, and emo­tional eat­ing. DE­FI­CIENCY CAN TRIG­GER: Overeat­ing FOODS TO HELP BOOST LEV­ELS: Glu­tamic acid con­tain­ing foods such as al­monds, wal­nuts, hal­ibut, lentils, and broc­coli

Karen Wang Diggs, CNC, is a cer­ti­fied nu­tri­tion­ist, chef, and the author of Happy Foods: Over 100 Mood-Boost­ing Recipes. She grad­u­ated from Cal­i­for­nia Culi­nary Academy, and in 2004, re­al­ized cook­ing should be com­bined with nu­tri­tion.

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