Friday, August 15, 2008

A little about vitamins...and a lot about food and mood

My friend Diane Whelan and I toured a vitamin factory yesterday. Was that ever interesting! I guess you just assume all those pills show up in all those bottles on their own. I learned so much about what it takes to grow the herbs, extract the active ingredients...even how much it takes to be an international business and sell different formulations to different countries while being in compliance with labeling regulations and varying cultural nutritional needs.

At one point our guide hand-pressed me a personal supplement the old-fashioned way.

Diane works with a product line called Nutrilite. The products are very high quality, and what really struck me as we toured the factory was how proud the employees were of their work.

You can learn more about this product line at this link:

I receive no commission from Nutrilite for sharing this information. I simply like to share good information and products when I do see them.

Below is some great information about food and mood from Nutrilite that you also may enjoy.

You and Your Mood: What’s Food Got to Do with It?
Duke Johnson, M.D.
Medical Director, Nutrilite Center for Optimal Health

Do you head straight for the ice cream after an especially hard day at work? It seems like a no-brainer that your mood affects your food choices. But did you know that food can also affect your mood? There are foods that can give you a boost when you need one.

The food-mood connection
It starts with chemicals in your brain, called neurotransmitters. They act like a one-way command center, telling your brain cells what message to pass on to all the other cells. Two neurotransmitters always send a “pay attention, stay alert” message, while another one always sends a “calm down, relax” message.

Now, consider this: If your diet doesn’t include the right nutrients, your brain won’t make enough neurotransmitters to send messages at optimum levels. And if you eat (or don’t eat) specific nutrients, your brain selectively makes certain neurotransmitters but not others.

Generally speaking, the following nutrients all affect neurotransmitter production:

For example, if you don’t consume enough food with the right amount of B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, and magnesium, your body won’t produce or store enough of these critical chemical messengers.

And that’s how the foods you eat (or don’t eat) affect your mood, energy levels, stress, and sleep habits.

And in case you want to know their names, the “high-alert” neurotransmitters are dopamine and norepinephrine. And serotonin has a calming, anxiety-reducing effect.

How to say it:
(emphasize the syllable in bold):

Neurotransmitters: Nurr-oh-trans-mitters.
Dopamine: Dope-a-mean.
Norepinephrine: Nor-eppa-neff-rinn.
Serotonin: Ser-oh-tone-in.
Feeling down?
Eat a small amount of carbs, like whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat pasta, or yogurt with fruit. That stimulates serotonin production, and relaxation and calm will follow.

Want more energy?
But if you’re gearing up for an exam or an interview, you should eat some lean protein with healthy carbs. That will trigger dopamine and norepinephrine, to get your mental juices flowing.


Lean protein
Meat, low-fat dairy, and eggs
Increases your alertness and concentration
Increased production and activity of dopamine and norepinephrine

Healthy carbohydrates
Brown rice, plain oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, and fresh fruit
Improves your mood, curbs your food cravings, and helps you sleep
Increased production and activity of serotonin

Omega-3 fats
Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies walnuts, and flaxseed

Increased production and activity of serotonin

Brain drainers and brain boosters
Be careful about grabbing chips, crackers, or fast food when you’re feeling down or stressed. It definitely can make you feel better, because processed foods high in sugar and saturated fat give you a burst of energy. But not too much later, you’ll crash and feel irritable and anxious.

And then, to feel better, it’s natural to return to the food and drink that gave you energy … but it’s easy to see where that leads – more sugar and more unhealthy fats, another boost and another crash.

Break this cycle and feel better – in a healthier, more lasting way, by eating these brain boosters, instead:

Brain drainers
Brain boosters

Coffee and a doughnut for breakfast
Oatmeal topped with berries, and a hard-boiled egg

Hamburger, fries, and soda for lunch
Turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread and veggies

Frozen fish nuggets and tater tots for dinner
Grilled salmon, broccoli, brown rice, and a green salad

Comfort foods
Sometimes the only food that will do is the meatloaf and mashed potatoes Mom used to make when you were a kid. Or maybe it’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. The strong emotional connection of these comfort foods stimulates release of the “feel good” neurotransmitters.

And to balance out the comfort food, up the nutritional quality. If you want a cookie, make it oatmeal raisin or fruit filled. Buy lower-fat ice cream or single-serve popsicles. Throw some veggies on that pizza.

What you drink matters, too
Do you reach for a cup of java or cola first thing in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening? Caffeine and alcohol can improve your mood, but too much of a good thing can have not-so-good consequences. Three hundred milligrams of caffeine – roughly what you get from three cups of brewed coffee – can increase your alertness and concentration. But more than 300 mg can make you nervous and jittery.

Alcohol has its pros and cons, too. Two drinks a day for men and one for women is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, but more than that may lead to weight gain, difficulty sleeping, and decreased powers of concentration. Too much alcohol also makes it easier to choose foods that don’t support a good mood.

Eat well to feel good
Feed your brain the best food you can! Choose a balanced diet of lean protein, healthy carbs, and omega-3 fats. Make sure to take a multivitamin that delivers the right blend of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Add regular exercise, enough sleep, and decisions that fit your lifestyle priorities. And you’ve got a no-brainer recipe for mastering your mood.

No comments: