AntiAgeing Savantess

Global Wellness, Skin Care and Aesthetics

Posts from the ‘Diet’ category

EAT YOURSELF BEAUTIFUL: DETOX, TONE and PUMP

Now that we know what nutrients can help us protect, plump and burn us beautiful, we can continue to enhance our aesthetics by incorporating foods aimed at detoxing, toning and supporting healthy vessels. Below, I list some of the key nutrients and foods key in our mission to cultivate natural beauty through health.

detpx for beauty

DETOX NUTRIENTS
Why is detoxing or “gut purification” important? By incorporating detox foods we can purge the body of harmful substances which cause less than optimal function and appearance of the body.  These foods can mean better absorption of nutrients, more energy, a sharper mind and of course more beautiful hair, skin and overall physique. For more on some benefits, see my previous post where I talk about benefits of such practices ¨Pre Hoilday Detox¨

detox for healthy digestion

To appropriately support our bodies attempt to eliminate what is harmful and function well, we need to optimize liver, kidneys and gut function. To do this, we must both clean and stimulate these organs.  The foods listed below can help us do just this.

Chlorophyll: Assists in  the digestion and the elimination of toxic metals, herbicides, chemicals, metals and pesticides. Chlorophyll, also, helps promote flow of cleansing bile and enzymes which aid in digestion and liver function.

Best Sources: Blue green algae, wheatgrass, spirulina, spinach, chard, and arugula.

Chlorophyll for Detoxification

Vitamin C: As you may have noticed in my past posts, this super vitamin is essential to many bodily functions. It´s role in detoxification stems from it´s ability to transform toxins into digestible materials which can then be easily eliminated out of the body. Vitamin C also aids digestion, stimulating digestive enzymatic processes, and promotes faster metabolism of nutrients.

Best Sources: Lemons and Grapefruits are best for detoxification. Drinking water with these fruits can help support the detox function.

 lemons and grapefruit for detox

Catechins: A plant antioxidant known to increase liver function and prevent fat accumulation in liver. A fatty liver is consistent with damage and disease, so it´s prevention is valuable in maintaining liver health.

Best Source: Yes Again…..Green Tea. Green Tea is also light diuretic and vasodilator, assuring higher rate of filtration of lymphatic and circulatory fluids.

green tea smoothie detox

Turmeric:  This pungent Indian Spice has a protective function for the liver and the ability to regenerate damaged liver cells.  Tumeric like, chlorophyll can boost bile production and positively affect gallbladder function.

Best Ways to incorporate Tumeric into your life: Check out this website here from MindBodyGreen.

turmeric for detox

Variety of Raw or Juiced vegetables. The combination of these vegetable stimulate various enzymatic processes and help cleanse and purge the body of toxins accumulated.

Some Must-Add Varieties: Almost all fruits and veggies add value to digestive health but some have a bit more weight.

raw food detox

  • Avocados, Kale and Brussel sprouts:   These contain a rich source of Glutathione, a compound with strong detoxifying power, which helps breakdown carcinogens and fight free radicals. These foods actively promote liver health by protecting it against toxic overload, and boosting its cleansing power
  • Walnuts: Contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia.
  • Watercress: Has the ability to improve elimination of carcinogens in urine, increase antioxidant levels and reduce the cancer related DNA damage.  Studies have shown watercress to be very helpful in smokers, helping excrete higher amounts of the dangerous carcinogens in the urine.
  • Artichokes: Contain cynarine which Increase bile production and improve digestion.
  • Cranberries: With natural antibacterial, antioxidant (hippuric acid), antiviral and  probiotic benefits, the cranberry has potent power for restoring digestive and urinary health. Organic juices are usually the best source.
  • Pears, Apples, Guava, Raisins : These fruits supply us with an important fiber known as Pectin. Pectin facilitates the elimination of harmful substances through the digestive tract. Pectin also promotes cellular turnover in the colon and helps prevent colon cancer.

Probiotics:  By supplying bacteria to the intestines we can aid in optimal digestion and detoxification processes.

Best Source: Organic Kefir

organic lactose free kefir

Note: Remember the best detox foods are organic varieties. Organic food is grown with the careful exemption of  harmful or unnecessary substances that may be linked to health hazards.

MUSCLE TONING NUTRIENTS

Tone muscles mean a faster metabolism, a better figure and less apparent cellulite.  These nutrients will help your body get the fuel it needs to build long, lean and healthy muscle.

eat for tone muscles

Omega 3 fatty acids: Once again this super nutrient commands recognition. Not only is it a super anti-ageing food, but, it supports muscle health and tone. Omega 3s increase blood flow to the muscles, keeping them well nourished while, at the same time, protecting them from breakdown.  Omega 3s also, with their anti-inflammatory properties, cut down on muscular recovery time after strenuous physical activities.

Best sources: Cold water fatty fish, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts or algae. Supplements are also an option. For more on best Omega 3 benefits check out my post here on ¨10 AntiAging Things you can do everyday.”

omega 3 sources

B Vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), and B12 (cobalamin), each essential for protein metabolism, energy production and nerve health. All of these processes are vital for muscle function and preservation.

Best Sources: Whole grains, eggs, lean meats, legumes, nuts, leafy greens, and fortified cereals. Fellow vegetarians beware!! If you are not eating eggs, you might need to take a vitamin B12 supplement as its only found in animal products! Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve health and muscle contraction!

B vitamin sources

High Protein Foods: Our body needs protein sources to create muscle.

Best Sources: Egg whites, whey protein, white fish, chicken breasts, lean beef, tofu, or beans and lentils. Nutritionists recommend  2 servings of high-quality, lean protein a day, (each serving about a cup), to maintain muscular tone and health.

protein for muscle

Low or Non Fat Dairy: These dairy choices provide a type of protein called casein which because digested slower, supplies the body with energy and nutrition over a long time. Also the calcium content in dairy has great benefits to muscle. Calcium is essential for muscle contraction and growth. Also, helps prevent muscle cramping during workouts. This said, lean dairy is great muscle-building food pre and post-workout for those who want to maintain long lean physiques!

Best Sources: Try organic low-fat cottage cheese and non-lactose fat-free milk. For those who don’t consume dairy, the fortified dairy-free products, can also be a great source of calcium and lean protein.

low fat cottage cheese great protein source

Note: Of course, to build and maintain muscle, there are other choices your nutritionist may recommend. The above choices, are just some nutrients I have found most consistent and helpful in my own journey to keep fit and tone!

VASCULAR FITNESS FOODS

Studies have consistently proven that what we eat can help improve our circulatory health. By normalizing intravenous pressure and reinforcing the vascular structure, the right nutrients can make vessels more resistant to the induced stress and damage. The aesthetic result is a decreased tendency to form unsightly varicose and spider veins.  The following nutrients will provide you with the support your veins need to assure best circulatory health and flawless legs. For more on maintaining healthy leg circulation and preventing vascular lesions check out my previous post on here. For some insight on how to treat varicose and spider veins, check out another post I wrote on the subject here.

leg diet

Polyphenols:  A group of flavonoids, known for their ability to protect the vascular system by preventing oxidative stress. They do this by preventing the aggregation (clumping and sticking) of low-density lipoproteins (LDL aka bad cholesterol). They also act to improve overall circulation by stimulating the  vessels to vasodilate.

Best Sources: Pomegranates and Rosemary.

 pomegranates for vascular health

Quercetin-3-rutinoside or Rutin: An essential flavonoid with ability to improve venous circulation by decreasing capillary permeability and strengthening the walls of veins. Rutin is flavonoid, or plant pigment with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vaso-protective properties. Rutin works together with Vitamin C to strengthens the walls of you veins, leaving them healthier, more tone and with the ability to withstand higher pressures and stress.

Best Sources: Buckwheat, berries, citrus fruits, and green tea.

 

Buckwheat and berries for vein health 

Betacyanin: A plant pigment and potent antioxidant. Betacyanin is  especially helpful in protecting the vessels walls from being damaged by oxidative stress. In addition to reducing LDL cholesterol, it reduces levels of homocystein in the blood. Homocystein is an amino acid known to be quite harmful to blood vessel walls. For this reason keeping homocystein levels low with betacyanin sources, is considered protective for the vessels.

Best Source: Beets

Beets for vein health

Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins: These plant sourced pigments help support the structural integrity of the vessels and improve overall venous circulation. These are especially valued because of their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-cancer activities.  Additionally, they assist in healthy behavior of platelets, and repairing damaged vessels.

Best Source: Berries

 

berries for vascular health 

Bromelain and Other Fibrinolytic Compounds:These increase the fibrinolytic activity and therefore prevent fibrin deposits within the vessel walls. Fibrin deposits cause vessels to harden, increasing intravascular pressure and damage.

Best Sources: Cayenne pepper, Ginger and Pineapple.

Pineapple and cayenne pepper for vascular health

Asparagine: An amino acid that serves as a natural diuretic, helping remove fluid and preventing edema. Since edema can cause increased pressure on the venous circulation, preventing it means less stress on your valves and vessel walls. Less stress means less damage on the veins and decreased incidence of spider and varicose veins.

Best Source: Asparagus

Asparagus for vein health

So now that you have all the knowledge you need to Eat Yourself Beautiful, I encourage you not to wait! Make all your meals about nurturing your body to function optimally and reflect the ravishing nutrition you so carefully chose for it!

Cheers to delicious food and getting a bit closer to what nature intended us to portray…. our most raw form of beauty!

natural beauty

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EAT YOURSELF BEAUTIFUL:   Protect, Plump and Burn

eat yourself Beautiful

I believe core health stems from how we nourish it. Every meal can make a difference in your mood, immunity and overall well-being. I have discussed how what you eat can affect your mood in a previous post. Today, I how to encourage you to eat well for sake of your physical well-being. It does help that these same nutrients also highlight our aesthetic virtues! So, arm your image naturally and incorporate these key beauty foods daily!

I have broken up these beauty foods into two posts. This first post I will address the key Sun Protecting, Collagen Promoting and Fat Burning nutrients and their food sources.

In the next post, I will address the nutrients which best Detoxify, Promote Muscle and Vascular Health.

All the foods discussed will help balance, restore and vitalize the body. With these foods, we can function optimally and reveal our most beautiful selves!

Sun Protecting Nutrients

With summer imminent, we need all the help we can get to increase our defenses from harmful UV radiation.

  •  Lycopene: A carotenoid that serves to protect the skin from the long-term effects of radiation. Carotenoids are critical to the photosynthetic process and protect a plant or organism from damage by light and oxygen.

sun protecting watermelon

Best Sources: Cooked tomatoes (offer higher lycopene concentrations than raw option) and Watermelon. Studies show that cooking in olive oil greatly increases absorption and therefore benefits of carotenoids like lycopene (Asia Pacific J Clin Nurt 2005, Journal of British Dermatology).

  • Astaxanthin: Another super-carotenoid that attributes to the coloring of many marine and aquatic animals. Works as a internal sunscreen, protecting the skin from UV damage with added anti-aging benefits. Studies have shown 4-6 weeks of supplementation can help reverse signs of UV aging such as wrinkles and sun spots. (Experimental Derm 2009).

protect yourself from sundamage with salmon

Best Sources: Wild Salmon best, trout, shrimp and lobster also good sources.

  • Beta Carotene: Helps repair skin damaged from sun exposure.

carrots and sweet potatoes for skin health

Best Sources: You need about 30 mg daily, equivalent to 6 carrots or a sweet potato. Other sources include kale, spinach, mangos and apricots.

  • Antioxidants: Protect and reverse free radical damage caused by sun exposure. For some ideas on how topical antioxidants can help further protect the skin from sun effects, please refer to my previous ¨Skin Youth and Antioxidants” post here.

pomagranate and blueberries protect skin

Best Sources: Dark color fruits and veggies. Pomegranate and blueberries have especially high levels of antioxidants and reduce ability of UVB induced cancer cell formation.

  • Triterpenoids: 2007 study at Cornell University found this group of important chemical compounds which act as natural anti-inflammatory agent and prevent formation of skin cancer cells.

apple peels for skin health

Best Sources: Organic Red Apple, grape tomato and olive skins.

  • EGCG: A natural phytochemical that fights free radicals and decreased sun induced inflammation. An ideal anti-aging agent.

organic green tea protects skin

Best Sources: Green Tea.  A 2011 report in Journal of nutrition saw improvements in elasticity roughness, scaling and moisture content in those who consumed green tea regularly over 12 weeks. Other studies have shown that green tea can also help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer by limiting blood supply to abnormally behaving cells.

  • Quercetin– Another helpful chemical which helps protect skin form oxidizing sun effects.

black tea for skin health

Best Source: Black Tea

  • Selenium: Essential mineral which acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and is needed for skin repair. Selenuim is needed to make a potent antioxidant glutathione peroxidase which fights development of cancer and skin aging. Also helps decrease incidence of sunburn and promote even skin tone.

crimini mushrooms for skin health

Best Source: Crimini Mushrooms and Fish (especially Red Snapper).

  • Omega 3: A 2013 study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that regular supplementation of omega 3s, protected skin from UV induced immunosuppression. This ability is what assures skin maintains its defenses to cancer and illness. For more on Omega 3s see my post “10 anti-aging things you can do every day”.

fish and flaxseed for sun protection

Best Source: Cold water fish, flax seed and walnuts.

  • Melatonin:  Melatonin acts as an antioxidant in the skin and protects DNA from UV induced damage. Melatnonin is best know for its ability to regulate the sleep cycle. For more information on this check out my post on “Beauty Sleep” here.

melatonin from cherries good for sleep and skin health

Best Source: Montmorency Cherries. These tart cherries have surprisingly high levels of melatonin, making them an ideal for both pre bed-time snack and a part of your summertime skin diet.

Collagen Promoting Nutrients

Collagen, elastin and soft keratin attribute to the connective tissue base of skin. This base provides strength and structure to our skin. As normal aging occurs collagen production and restructuring processes slow down. Because of this, our skin becomes increasingly thin, less elastic and weaker. The result is increased incidence of wrinkles, sagging and greater propensity to accumulate broken blood vessels and sun spots. There are treatments to help awaken sleepy skin, but, without appropriate and adequate nutrition, collagen cannot be made! Protecting skin from sun-damage will also help slow collagen degeneration so incorporating sun-protecting habits will assure strong, healthy and plump skin.

  • Turmeric: This anti-aging nutrient serves as a potent antioxidant which resists collagen degradation by producing protective hyaluronic acid.

kidney beans increase hyaluronic acid in skin

Best Source: Red Kidney Beans. Two tablespoons of beans a day help maintain healthy hyaluronic acid levels!

  • White tea: A study published in 2009 reports that White tea, above all others, has the most protective properties on collagen and elastin. (Journal BioMed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine). Its extremely high concentration of polyphenols and antioxidants should be enough to convince you to make White Tea your go-to collagen preserving beauty drink!!

collagen stimulating organic white tea

  • Sulfur, Taurine and Lipoid acid “Collagen Trio”: Supports healthy production and repair of collagen.

Garlic and collagen production

Source of Collagen Trio: Garlic!!

  • Vitamin C– This Vitamin is critical for the skins defense against free radicals and is necessary collagen production and repair! Many current studies are reiniterating the importance of this basic vitamin in the prevention of premature skin aging and in healthy restoration of damaged skin.  For information on topical products incorporating Vitamin C for skin protection, see my previous post here.

lychees help encourage collagen production

Best Sources: Hot peppers, guavas, sweet peppers, black currants, lychees and rose hip plant.

  • Genistein: An element essential in promoting collagen production while also protecting existing collagen by inhibiting certain enzymes responsible for its degredation.

organic soy products for collagen

Best Sources: Organic Soy Products.

  • Manuka Honey: A honey variety from new Zealand, promoting cellular renewal, anti-inflammatory effects and formation of stronger, more resistant collagen.

Manuka honey for collagen

  • Plant Steroids: Encourages collagen production.

avocado oil for collagen

Best Source: Avocado oil.

Fat Busting Nutrients

Who doesn’t need a little boost in fat metabolism? Keep these foods readily available, especially during pool time festivities!

  • Capaicin: Boost fat metabolism by increasing the body’s internal temperature and caloric needs. Studies show consistent appetite suppression and weight loss with regular consumption!

spices for metabolism

Best Sources: Cayenne and jalapeño peppers.

  • Sulfur and B complex Vitamin rich foods: Support function of metabolism stimulating adrenal gland.

Sulfur and B vitamin foods for weight loss

Best Sources: Garlic, apples strawberries blueberries and lemons.

  • Thermogengic foods– These foods require more calories during digestion than they provide when consumed.

Thermogenic food for fat metabolism

Best Sources: Broccoli, spinach and tomatoes.

  • Leptin reducing foods: Studies done in mice and other animals show that lower leptin levels are associated with faster metabolisms and more efficiently burn fat. (University of Wisconsin) We believe that leptin has similar effect in humans.

sashimi

Best Sources: Fish

  • High Fiber Fruits: Help your body burn fat by helping mobilize contents through the digestive tract faster. This favors the absorption of vital nutrients essential for optimal metabolism and fat oxidation! For more on the benefits of a high fiber diet check out my post on ¨10 Anti-Aging Things You Can Do Every Day¨

strawberries and blueberries for fat metabolism

Best Sources: Strawberries, blueberries

  • Citrus Foods:  The chemical properties of these fruits help decrease insulin levels and promote faster metabolism and weight loss.

kiwi and grapefruit fat burn

Best Sources: Lemons, kiwis and grapefruit.

  • High Protein, Calcium Products: Organic sources usually supply high quality amino acids and proteins which help suppress appetite. Rich supplies of calcium assure healthy blood levels and avoid triggered release of calcitrol. Keeping calcitrol low is smart since it encourages storage of fat. Calcitrol also lowers production of the stress related hormone cortisol. Cortisol encourages accumulation of dangerous visceral fat. For more on dangers of cortisol and visceral fat see my previous post “ Your Waistline and Health”.

tofu and arugula fat burning foods

Best Sources: Fat free organic dairy, Tofu, Leafy Greens and Legumes.

Fat metabolism super nutrients? Although I´m not prepared to talk about these supplements in this post, there is some interesting evidence supporting their fat metabolizing abilities!   Goji Berries, African Mango and Green Coffee Bean extract are gaining tremendous momentum in the weight loss and fat burning arena.  I may decide to revisit in future post but until then, feel free to investigate on your on your own and inquire at your nutritionists office about their potential benefits. 

So, I hope from this post you have learned what foods encourage you natural beauty by:

  • Improving your skins ability to protect and repair itself from sun,
  • Preserving youthful skin structure and collagen production and …
  • Revving-up your fat metabolism!

Check back next week for my next post where you I fill you in on the key beauty nutrients responsible for helping our body detoxify, promoting lean muscle and improving circulatory health! 

Cheers to promoting beauty with food and a colorful, spicy and refreshing summer diet!

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        happy snacking or breakfast         

I’m sure you have noticed….. your mood changes after eating.

One would expect happiness after feeding a famished belly, but many times, that is not the case. Instead, your diet can sometimes contribute to your tired, irritable or lazy demeanor, when what you really need is to feel energized and prepared for your day. Let’s face it, now a day; we need every bit of energy we can get! This modern life requires us to get through our tightly packed schedules motivated and with the right attitude. Later, we need to adjust to transition theses energetic days to relaxing nights, assuring a rejuvenating nights rest. Whether we have an important meeting, a life changing exam, a long list of draining tasks or just to spend time with family or friends, we always want to feel sharp minded, positive and with no excuses for not giving ourselves 100%.  With that said we should want to know how to feed ourselves to optimize our mood. I would want to know, for example,  if there was something I could do to help me be less anxious when I have to present in a meeting or to have optimal stamina before going to the gym or to be more relaxed when spending time with my mom….wouldn’t you?

I hope to help you understand how to use the power of food to set the mood for what could be your best day yet!

Our brain is ruled by Neurotransmitters

neurotransmitter

The central nervous system, composed of mostly our brain, controls not only the way our heart beats  and the way we breathe, but most other processes that our vital to life itself. In addition, the stability of the nervous system is key in regulating our mood, sense of well-being, energy and mental clarity.  It is for this reason that neurotransmitters (NTs) are so important to our overall health and mental state. These chemical messengers are released from one brain cell, or neuron, to another to initiate a chemical reaction causing nerve impulses which ultimately preside over how our bodily systems function, feel and act. In fact, NTs are the key players in regulating messages between over 100 billion neurons that make up and control our entire nervous system. Healthy brain function depends of a balance and regulation these NTs production and release.  Even small imbalances in the proportions of NTs can affect our mental health. Since the precursors of these NTs are primarily derived from food, (include vitamins, minerals and most importantly amino acids), what we eat can have an immense impact on their presence and activity. Depending on what we eat, and in what proportions, we can alter the prevalence of one neurotransmitters production and activity over another’s. Since different NTs have different actions we must strive to supply our body with the right dose of materials needed to produce healthy levels of each type. Our food choices can, therefore, attribute to how we physically and mentally maneuver through life.

Mood NTs

Although there are hundreds of neurotransmitters active in our bodies, for the purposes of this post, I will discuss only those which have the most influence on our mental state and their effect on our overall mood.

First off, it’s important to know that we have two major classes of neurotransmitters, inhibitory and excitatory. The inhibitory neurotransmitters are those that serve to calm and stabilize mood. While the excitatory help the body prepare for activity, mental acuity and stress.

Two important inhibitory NTs are Serotonin and GABA.

  • Serotonin is necessary to relax the mind, calm anxiety and nervousness, decrease sensations of pain and help prevent overeating.  Additionally, when Seratonin is balanced, you have a better immune and digestive function overall. We all know what sickness and bloating does to our mood…. Needless to say Seratonin helps balance our minds and our tummies, and does wonder for feelings of happiness.
  • GABA is known as our bodies “natural valium-like NT”, and is mainly responsible for keeping you calm in moments of stress.

The excitatory NTs are Norepinephrine and Epinephrine.  Appropriate levels of norepinephrine are required to wake up the nervous system and keep you energetic, focused and productive throughout the day.

  • Norepinephrine plays an important role in alertness, motivation and concentration. It also has a role in helping produce long term memories and keeping your metabolism in check.
    • Epinephrine most important role is in blood pressure and heart beat regulation, however, is also released in response to stress.
    • High levels of these excitatory NTs can in the short term give us the power we need to pull through an energetically demanding event BUT long term excess has health risks including damage to our circulatory system and kidneys.  Apart from stress, certain foods can promote chronic excitatory NT release, causing the associated physical damage and additionally inhibitory NT depletion (in failed attempt to compensate for excess excitatory NTs effects). Too much excitatory NTs cause anxiety, stress, and insomnia and contribute to alterations in mood.

Certain NTs can both be both inhibitory and excitatory depending on the receptors present. Dopamine and Acetylcholine are two such NTs.

  • Dopamine is important to mood stabilization, as it can calm the mind to focus and prevent depressed mood.  In elevated concentrations it is also capable of contributing to nervousness or anxiety.
  • Acetylcholine (Ach) is a NT necessary for memory retention, mental acuity and alertness. Deficiency in Ach is seen in Alzheimer patients. For more info about Ach and Alzheimers click here.

How can what we eat affect what neurotransmitters are prevalent in our systems?

Food, depending on it’s nutritional composition, offers our body different precursors for production and stimulated release of certain neurotransmitters. Nutritious foods are the best sources of these NTs and proteins are often our ideal source. Proteins and NTs share a common building block, known as amino acids. When ingested our body breaks down proteins into amino acids and if the appropriate supportive nutrients are present (vitamins, minerals etc.) in the appropriate nurturing environment, the NTs are produced. Amino acids themselves can serve as NTs, stimulating neuron receptors to the release of other NTs. Appropriate nutrition is essential to provide the body with the correct elements needed to produce the correct NTs in the correct proportions. The ratio of these NTs produced allow our body to maintain a healthy neutrality and balance irregularities produced by stress, hormones, illness or other. This complex balance can be thrown off if we have any nutritional deficiencies (vitamin, mineral or protein), ingest food which deplete certain NTs (such as sugar, alcohol, medications or  excess carbohydrates), or have chronic digestive or hormonal issues. Although this science is complex and can be affected by various factors, we can help contribute to the health of our mental state by providing our body with a nutritionally balanced diet and avoiding excess of those toxins which can throw NT balance into a disarray.

To eat in a way which we can precisely acquire certain energy levels or to balance our mood is not easy. We can, however, learn a few guidelines which can help us seek out certain nutrients, and avoid ingestion of interfering substances, to help assure we are the happiest, most easy going and sharpest selves.  

DAY TIME FOODS- Uplifting, Energizing, Mind-Sharpening Effect

Seek Out:

  • Tyrosine rich foods for energy
    • The amino acid tyrosine promotes production of the excitatory NTs…dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.
    • Foods high in protein like eggs whites, soy products, meat, wheat germ beans, legumes and cheese. Almonds, pumpkin and sesame seeds are also great sources and can be used as snacks.
    • Chicken is a great source of tyrosine and therefore excitatory NT precursor. Chicken additionally provides the brain with a source of coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 additional supports the energy generating potential of the neurons.
    tyrosine rich groups

    tyrosine rich foods

    tyrosine rich food

    • Antioxidant rich foods to assure alertness and motivation
      • Dopamine is essential for alertness and motivation. Unfortunately it is easily oxidized and therefore must be protected by adding foods which have high antioxidant power
      • Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best dietary antioxidants and help maintain and increase your dopamine levels by fighting the harmful free radicals which threated its oxidation and destruction.
      • Watermelon (excellent source of super antioxidant B6), apples (contain quercetin well known for dopamine protective properties), bananas (shown to increase dopamine levels), beets (contain natural antidepressant betaine which also essential in dopamine production) and avocados are best dopamine protecting or enhancing properties.

      perfect mood antioxidantsavocado and bananas to set the mood

      • Choline for concentration and memory
        • Choline, a B complex vitamin, is the precursor to acetylcholine (Ach). Ach is a neurotransmitter essential to memory and whose deficiency is liked to Alzheimers.
        • Choline is found in high concentrations in cholesterol containing foods. I’m not saying go back to fried eggs and butter for breakfast but a whole boiled egg might pay off resulting in better concentration before a big exam.
egg yolk for the mind

a bit of cholesterol can sharpern the mind

        • Other sources of choline include beans, cauliflower, soy products, cheese, oats, wheat germ and whole grain.

**Diet tips:

To assure energy? For breakfast, try an egg white omelet with a half a cup of cottage cheese or a soy milk fruit smoothie with a teaspoon of wheat germ.  For an energizing lunch, try a nice chicken breast meal with sautéed veggies or bean salad.

flaxseed soy smoothieegg white omlete with antioxidants

For a brainy breakfast? Try a egg sandwich on whole wheat with slice of low fat cheese.

egg sandwich cheese wheat

food for your brain

High Sugar Processed Foods? Don’t do it! Although these options may seem like a perfect fix for an energy slump they are short lived and ultimately result in a brain and energy slump. These non-nutritional food sources supply our blood stream with lots of free glucose (sugar energy source), but this activates the pancreas to work into overdrive producing a compensatory insulin surge. Insulin causes cells to take in this free glucose for storage. Once glucose taken into cells, we are left with no free energy source in blood stream, causing us to suffer an energy crisis, commonly referred to as a “sugar crash.” Since out brain cells do not have a way to store glucose for use in such an energy crisis, our brain “starves” and we suffer symptoms of weakness, confusion and headaches.  My advice, skip these food choices and focus on the nutritionally rich sources, offering you vitamins, proteins, complex carbs and nurturing fats.

avoid high processed sugar food

avoid sugar and processed food

FOODS TO CORRECT YOUR MOOD: For a Stabilized, Content and Relaxed Mind

Seek out:

  • Tryptophan to decrease anxiety and increase sense of wellbeing
    • Tryptophan is the amino acid building block to serotonin, our happy and relaxing NT.
    • Bananas, turkey, egg yolk, hazelnuts, beans and cheese are great sources of tryptophan.
    • To benefit from tryptophan we must balance with a serving of a healthy carbohydrate. The problem lies in the same high protein foods rich in tryptophan may also be great sources of tyrosine, the energizing NT precursor. To make sure we benefit from tryptophan and are not affected by the presence of the tyrosine, we need the accompanying carbohydrate.
tryptophan balance

tryptophan balanced meal

How does the carbohydrate help tryptophan stimulate inhibitory or relaxing NTs and prevent tyrosine over stimulating the excitatory NTs??

  • The carbohydrate triggers insulin release to divert other amino acids from brain so tryptophan can gain access to the receptors it needs to, to get converted into serotonin. As I explained before serotonin is a inhibitory neurotransmitter which promotes balanced mood and a general state of well-being.
  • Getting a good source of tryptophan to brain can result in a natural, non-medicated way to help decrease anxiety, decrease pain leading to more rational behaviors and mood. 
  • Tryphtophan rich foods accompanied by a healthy carb snack can also set the mood for easy sleep induction! Melatonin, an important hormone in sleep the sleep/wake cycle regulation, is made from serotonin.  A lack of seratonin, may therefore, contribute to sleeping problems. Please see my post on Beauty Sleep here for more insight on ways to get restorative sleep.

**Diet Tip:

Dieters beware!! A strict no –carb diet will most definitely result in a very unhappy, and difficult to deal with, individual. By not supplying your body with normal trigger for insulin release (the carb), you are basically limiting production of serotonin. No wonder No Carb= No Fun!! The anxiety usually results in increased appetite and foul mood. Take a break and eat a whole grain toast with a slice of low fat cheese or a whole grain pita with some hummus!

perfect mood stabilizer meal

dieters escape from moodiness

  • L-glutamine to induce relaxation
    • L glutamine is an amino acid precursor for GABA, our relaxation NT.
    • Pork, beef, sesame and sunflower seeds are good sources of this.

**Diet tip:

Seeking a more hearty way on a cold day to relax? Try a beef or pork based dish accompanied with a sesame garnish and brown rice pasta.

pork, sesame brown rice pasta

fighting stress with a nutritious and satisfying meal

    • Selenium to decrease irritability and moodiness
      • Selenium is a mineral which works with vitamin E to assist in serotonin production. Also has shown to prevent toxicity from exposure to certain metals (by binding to them and producing nontoxic forms and preventing neurotoxicity)
      • Deficiency in Selenium contribute to irritability
      • Sources include tuna, tomatoes, eggs, and broccoli and sunflower seeds.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids to stabilize mood and sharpen mind
    • Omega 3s have shown to improve the communication between brain cells by improving the conductivity of the brain medium through which NTs must travel through.
    • Omega 3s increase levels of available serotonin.
    • Supplementation linked to better mood and memory.
    • Sources include cold water fish, such as cod and salmon, flax seed and olive oil.
salmon for omega 3
Salmon is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Phenylethylamine to lift spirt and calm mind
    • PEA is a small neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that’s actions include stimulating release of norepinephrine and dopamine.
    • Chocolate, especially dark organic types are good sources of this!!!! Although the normal metabolism of chocolate limits the concentration of active PEA available to brain, purer sources of cocoa do offer us some PEA benefits.
    organic dark chocolate

    organic dark chocolate

    • To avoid the high sugar effects of milk chocolate and to benefit from maximum availability of PEA try a bit of dark chocolate as your desert choice… studies have proven it can simulate better mood and soothe at the same time! Hurray!!

**Diet Tip:

Noticing you may be starting your day off on the wrong foot?  Try a tuna salad with tomatoes and eggs or have a grilled fish with sautéed broccoli in olive oil with sunflower seeds.  If you need a snack, try some mixed some nuts. Avoid foods with high glycemic index such as pasta, white breads and sugary foods.  For a sweet desert my choice would the obvious few squares of dark chocolate!! (:

tuna salad tomatoes and sunflower seeds

fix moodiness with a balanced fresh diet

  • Caffeine to elevate depressed mood
    • Caffeine stimulates neurons to release excitatory NTs
    • Although too much caffeine can stimulate depletion of certain neurotransmitters and cause other mood issues such as irritability or anxiety, a little can help stimulate the nervous system just enough to get you out of your blues.
    • Try a nice cup of green tea over coffee. Green tea is a vasodilator (improves circulation) and an antioxidant and therefore, has more benefits over coffee.
    organic green tea

    Clippers organic green tea….pure bliss!

    • If you choose to have coffee as your caffeine source, don’t surpass a 2 cup serving as it could bring about negative physical and mental symptoms.
    • Folic Acid (vitamin B9) to prevent depression
      • Studies show link between low folic acid levels and subsequent lower brain serotonin levels. This is hypothesized to be because of folic acids role in the production of a vital serotonin precursor know as S-adenosyl-methionine.
      • Low levels of folic acid are more commonly seen in depressed and psychiatric patients. Studies show patients supplemented with  200 mg of folic acid greatly improved feeling of overall wellness.
      • Good sources of folic acid found in papaya, oranges, grapefruits, avocado, asparagus, beets, spinach (or other green leafy veggies), soybeans, peanuts and turkey.

**Diet tip:

Feeling like you might need food remedy to help with depressed mood? Try starting the day with a cup of green tea and an papaya, orange and grapefruit salad. Lunch can include a turkey or avocado whole grain sandwich with spinach salad.

fruit salad papaya grapefruit

happy breakfast bowl

 

The Bottom Line/Summary

The proper release of these neurotransmitters,(NTs), is key in giving us the control we desire over our mood and rational mind. Since our diet supplies the body with the key elements for NT production and balance…we need to pay more attention to what we eat! By choosing wisely what eat, we have a better chance at predicting what our day might be like. Our meal plans may shape the days productivity level, your likability and overall effectiveness.

All this said, remember, food are not the only things that can affect NT levels and healthy balance. Stress can cause neurons to release excess excitatory NTs. Anything hindering digestion, (food allergies, inflammatory reactions, undigested food, lack of certain digestive enzymes etc.), can inhibit the way we absorb nutrients necessary to make certain NTs.  Digestion, is especially important for serotonin presence and activity in the body as approximately 90% is produced in your gut and must be reabsorbed across a healthy intestinal wall  in order for the body to be able to utilize it. An inflamed gut could limit absorption of serotonin and therefore contribute to depressed and anxious mood. Chronic excess of alcohol, drugs, toxins, metals and medications can also effect digestion and absorption of many NTs or alternately act directly on neuron receptors to inhibit their action. Appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals, are needed for both production and release of NTs. Hormone imbalances can cause NT imbalances by affecting both production and release.

foods that destablize mood

foods that destabilize mood… use coffee and chocolate in small doses and in emergencies only!!

NT balance may seem complex but if we in general lead a healthy life style and keep stress at bay, we should be able to take control of our energy levels and mood by simply controlling our diets!

If you feel persistently overly moody, irritable and nervous, you should see your doctor. Ask about testing your NT levels.  This test is easy, safe and most often covered by insurance. With luck, your doctor will attempt amino acid supplementation to balance your NT imbalance prior to using medications (which have their own dangerous side effects)!

My Ultimate Diet Tip? Next time think twice prior to reaching for that doughnut or greasy fast food item! These foods may seem necessary to relieve your distress but, remember, as much joy as it may bring you in that instant, its consumption will surely add on to your list of troubles. Along with the extra weight and health problems, these non-nutritious foods will leave you with additional anxieties, irritated and less prepared to make the right choices.  So do yourself and everyone around you a favor….reach for an apple, get a massage, go for a run or hug a friend!  You will thank yourself later!

kick out the junk

kick out the junk… and say hello to an improve you!

Cheers to feeling happy, relaxed and more productive!

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Before the holidays arrive with its parties, celebrations, toxins and stresses, I thought would be great to present the power of a good detox.

Why Detox?   There are at least a few times a year where our bodies could benefit from some type of detoxification. Some find its usefulness after a period of abuse from food, alcohol and stress…. but it has so much more value! Its true detoxes can help clean up the body when in states of complete chaos. Weight concerns, stomach pains, mood swings, gases, lack of energy, bad complexion, hair and nails can all present as symptoms of improper digestion and nutrition. It is in these moments, a strict diet plan, led by your trusted medical professional or nutritionist, is needed. These medical detoxes are many times accompanied by supplements and herbs and require you to be monitored on a regular basis. It is for this reason it is recommended to remain conscious of your bodily state and self-prescribe a mild detox from time to time to prevent ever getting to the point where you might need professional intervention. By eliminating certain foods that have low nutritional value and avoiding chemicals and toxins, we can reboot our bodies to utilize the food we eat better. The more efficiently our body can breakdown foods, the more nutrition we can get out of it and the faster our metabolism overall. This translates not only into a healthier digestion and overall health, but more energy, a positive mood, clear skin, shiny hair, strong nails and even weight loss. Who wouldn’t want that? We just need to sacrifice 2 weeks and we are on our way! In fact these mini-detoxes are an excellent anti-aging method to keep the body in-check and you in tune with your body’s needs.

The Plan     Whenever I need a healthy detox my go-to trusted source is, my dear friend, Jelena Savic. Not only is she one of Chicago’s best macrobiotic and private chefs, but also, specializes in detox regimes. She prides herself in bringing people to healthier nutritional states so they could look better, feel better, and more importantly, enable them to fight illness and even cancer. She has come up with a simple two week detox to help anyone get on the road to new beginnings.
 Jelena’s guidelines are simple: start eliminating foods slowly and incorporating more and more nutritional foods. The key is moderation and variety of the list of nutritional foods below and the inclusions of super foods such as cacao, acai, sprouts and gogiberries. Also, alternate cooking methods between blending, steaming, stir-fry, baking, sauté, soups and stews. Spices, herbs, mustards, tahini, hummus, and vinegars are allowed and can help liven up your meals!  Below, you have a day-to-day breakdown of the 2 weeks.

Day 1-3 Cut out alcohol, soda, coffee, canned food, lunchmeat, fried foods, white flour, refined sugars, white rice, white potatoes and all bread.

Day 3-7 Cut out all red meats, hydronated oils, wheat, dairy, and all caffeine.

Day 7-10 Cut out all meat.
         

Day10-13 Cut out all fish and eggs. The remainder of the detox will be vegetarian and should generally look something like this:

Breakfast May consist of unlimited fruit and herbal tea, a nutritional shake, bowl of oats of puffed rice cereal with soy, rice or almond milk

Mid-morning/late afternoon snack– a soy yogurt, a handful of nuts or brown rice cake with peanut butter or hummus.

Lunch and Dinner– May consist of a vegetarian plate prepared in any of the methods explained above including a soup, a stew, salad or wok sauté. Remember you can add tofu, nuts, fruits, and cup of Wild or brown rice/quinoa/ beans/legumes/millet/ buckwheat or a sweet potato. Cooking preparation should contain no more than 1 tsp. of olive, coconut, flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, walnut, almond or grape seed oil.

Day 14 This last day is to include EXCLUSIVELY of fruits and vegetables in unlimited quantities. Try to eat them raw, juiced, steamed or prepared as soups, with little or NO oils. This will be a difficult day and it is recommended you take it easy, limiting stress and activity. Walks, funny movies and supportive friends can help you get through without too much anxiety. I personally, like to go shopping!! Nothing else takes away hunger like searching for some amazing shoes! The entire 2 weeks to be supported by lots of water, herbal teas and moderate amounts of freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices (no sugar added).

Some Useful Insight   Remember, this is a great time to listen to our bodies and get our mind to recognize what seems to make it feel better. Jelena suggests to her clients to take long walks during their detox periods to appreciate how your body has been feeling and listen to what it may be trying to communicate (examples may include ” I feel so much more energized after eating _____” or “that vegetable really makes me bloated”). These mini epiphanies may help you when back to your normal eating habits.

Another important consideration is to add eliminated foods back into your diet SLOWLY, as your body may be overburdened if you jump right back in to your pre-detox routine.

These are moderate guidelines to follow to help get your body functioning optimally! Although some may not agree with starting such a diet right before the holidays, I feel there is no better time! There is nothing like getting healthy in the time of the year, which you are most likely to pack on the pounds! Also, by the time the real festivities arrive you look amazing, are energized, and have most possibly lost some weight! All these, while most around you are barely squeezing in holiday attire! Why not give yourself one more reason to celebrate? So get started!…..3,2,1 GO!!!
       

For some recipe ideas click on the following site WholeBodyDetoxDiet. Also, if anyone has any recommendations of recipes or sites please share!!

yummy detox vegan salad superfood detox detox soup

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