Let Turkey Improve Your Mood - Naturally!
The relationship between what we eat and how we feel has long been the topic of research, experimentation and speculation. No doubt early medicine men and primitive doctors saw that some foods made people feel better and behave differently. Fortunately, we have come a long way since those days of trial and error medicine and can now plan our meals to enhance our mood and performance.
Regular sleep, exercise and proper diet can make an enormous difference both physically and mentally. Good athletes benefit most from proper training, adequate rest and a high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet just before a big event. This type of meal provides extra oxygen to the bloodstream, which in turn supplies the heart, brain and lungs. A similar principle applies to maintaining energy and stamina throughout the day for regular activities. A well-balanced diet that is high in protein and carbohydrates helps the body produce the energy that it needs to perform at its highest level.
This same diet is also critical for good mental health. During the winter months, shorter day lengths and cold weather may keep us cooped up inside. Cabin fever may set in. Understanding how food affects mood may help you eat your way to a better attitude.
Protein and carbohydrates stimulate production of amino acids in the brain. By eating certain foods, we can control how we feel throughout the day. Amino acids dictate how the body responds to stress, hunger and other stimuli. For example, carbohydrates trigger the production of seratonin, which is known to elevate moods and promote calmness.
When people experience job-related stress, they may reach for a chocolate to calm their nerves. Enjoying the taste of the candy may be calming, but the body also responds to the production of seratonin, which is stimulated by the carbohydrates in the candy. Unfortunately, the high simple sugar content in the candy produces only a brief elevation, so it is important to find sources of carbohydrates that are low in simple sugar, like fruit or juice.
Protein, on the other hand, bolsters the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and noradrenaline. Each of these amino acids occurs naturally in the brain and affects some aspect of our mental outlook. Dopamine and norepinephrine both increase mental alertness and concentration. Noradrenaline eases depression, curbs hunger and improves memory and mental alertness.
Knowing how different foods cause the body to produce certain amino acids can be a useful way to plan a nutritious, low-fat, tasty meal. Enjoying a turkey sandwich before a meeting is much more likely to boost alertness than a plain bagel or a candy bar. Adding chopped turkey to a lunchtime salad will set the proper mind-frame for a productive afternoon at the office or in school.
"Using food to adjust mood is a fairly new concept, but it is certainly worth exploring. A diet that is high in protein and carbohydrates and low in simple sugars and fat is one that will lead to a healthy life-both physically and mentally," said National Turkey Federation Public Relation's Director, Sherrie Rosenblatt. "All bodies react to food differently, so it may take experimentation and time to figure out the best balance. That, however, is part of the fun."
For example, start this experimentation with turkey. It is versatile, nutritious, low-fat and an excellent source of protein. For starters, try Turkey and Avocado in Orange Sauce or Turkey Baked with Beans and Pasta. From there, substitute turkey for higher fat meats in other recipes that combine protein and carbohydrates to eat your way to better physical and mental health.