I had the honor to take part in the Pre-Race Survivor/Forever Fighter Fashion Show and Celebration for Susan G. Komen at Bloomingdale's Short Hills. I teamed up with Dr. Vanessa Trespalacios to discuss the importance of food and mood. Dr. T is an internist at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, N.J. She takes pride in encouraging patients to heal themselves through food and lifestyle. I knew instantly we would click, I am all about creating a healthy lifestyle and not a quick fix!
Below are tips from both Dr. T and NMFIT!
What is Glycemic Index? Dr. T describes it as the way your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. If your blood sugar drops too low, you can become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger. Here at NMFIT I encourage client to stay away from starchy foods like bread, breakfast cereals and baked potatoes
Sticking to a low glycemic diet helps to prevent heart disease and diabetes. The following foods have the lowest GI.
- Skim Milk
- Kidney Beans
Dr. T goes on to say that foods with high glycemic index lead to an initial elevation in energy and mood as blood sugar rises, but this is followed by a cycle of fat storage, lethargy and more hunger as your blood sugar plummet.
According to Dr. T: Serotonin is a Neurotransmitter, primarily found in the GI tract (90%), blood and CNS of animals, including humans. Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over mood, emotions, memory, cravings, self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion, and body temperature regulation. It is often thought of as our “happy hormone”.
I shared that the following foods can help boost your serotonin:
- Nuts & Seeds
A handful of nuts a day has been said to lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Nuts also provide a source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Find new ways to keep meals interesting by sauteing chicken in one of the suggested oils (Omega section) and add shredded coconut with pineapples, so good!
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for general growth and development. Tryptophan produces niacin and therefore creates serotonin. Niacin deficiency can lead to depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Longterm niacin deficiency can lead to dementia and serious diseases that resemble schizophrenia. So what foods are rich in Tryptophan? Here is a short list:
- Red Meat
Omega 3,6 and 9
Dr. T revealed that research has found that Omega 3, 6 and 9 found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts can help protect against depression. Omegas also have a relevant impact on serotonin metabolism, known to be an important neurotransmitter in depression.
As I mentioned before it's about creating a healthy lifestyle my suggested recommendations for foods full of Omegas include fish, nuts, seeds and avocado. Opting for oils rich in these omegas is an excellent way to change the flavoring of your regular meals and get the health benefits at the same time. A few oils to consider are Grape Seed Oil, Hemp Oil, Safflower Oil and Black Currant Oil.
This food is a powerful source of antioxidants that can help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. It also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids it helps to protect your skin against sun damage. With summer around the corner, you need all the sun protection you can get but remember consume this treat in moderation.
Keeping your mood in check could have a lot to do with your hydration! Dr. T says: Staying hydrated can help avoid fatigue. Even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism and sap your energy. Generally speaking, the recommendation is 1/2 your body weight in ounces daily for those with sedentary lifestyles in a cool climate. Another way to stay hydrated is to snack on certain fruits and vegetables with are naturally full of water (apple wedges, celery sticks).
As Dr. T mentioned there are foods you can snack on that have water content, check out a few of my additional recommendations below.
- Cauliflower 92% water
- Eggplant 92% water
- Red Cabbage 92% water
- Spinach 92% water
- Cucumber 96% water
- Grapefruit 90% water
- Celery 95% water
Glycemic Index Friendly Smoothie
- Handful of ice
- Fruit of choice, avoid bananas because it's high in glycemic index.
- Half a cup of soaked oats.
- 1 cup of skim or almond milk
Tip: An alternative quick breakfast option is oatmeal with a teaspoon of raw peanut butter unsweetened!
Simple Dark Chocolate Smoothie
- Ahandful of Ice
- Your choice of Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Milk or Water
- Banana or Avocado for a dose of potassium and fiber
- Agave (optional)
- Scoop of chia seeds
- A handful of spinach (optional) for a kick of folic acid!
This smoothie is packed with potassium, omega 3's, fiber and vitamin B!