Eat more protein: Did you know that when you are feeling mentally sluggish it can be because you are not feeding your head?
So, eat some more protein! Protein contains the amino acid "Tyrosine". This amino acid helps manufacture the two alertness chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. Depending on your weight, you shouldn't need any more than 50 to 70 grams of protein per day. So try a tablespoon of peanut butter or about 25grams of a low fat cheese with some crackers.Serving Up The Wrong Information?
If we had to eat everything we were supposed to, I reckon we'd be the size of elephants.
I'm referring to the food pyramid and the recommended daily servings. To give you an example, the Australian Guide To Healthy Eating says we should have seven serves of grain or cereal per day. That's around fourteen slices of bread! How many of us would realistically eat that much? And that's not counting the fruit, vegies and fats we need to consume for optimum health.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and reducing fat in our diet does lead to fewer health problems, but there's now some evidence to show that perhaps the food pyramid may be a little bloated, and we are, in fact, eating too many grains.
A program called The Seven Countries Study researched around 12,000 men over a 30-year period. Results showed that men who ate lots of fruit and vegetables had a lower risk of stomach cancer. Further analysis also found the risk of cancer actually increased with higher consumption of grains and cereals.
The study also showed that people who ate lots of grains and cereals tended to eat less fruits and vegetables. They filled up on too many refined or processed cereals.
Wholegrain cereals contain a swag of nutrients like phytochemicals, sterols and phenolics, which may play a role in lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. Most of our cereal intake these days is from companies like Kelloggs and unfortunately most of the goodies in wholegrain cereals are stripped away during processing. Vitamins are added back in afterwards, along with salt and sugar.
But you have to wonder about the missing nutrients.
Is this the problem then? We're filling up on Coco Pops and white bread and skipping on the fresh apples and carrots?
The American Food Pyramid has 4 tiers, starting with cereals and grains at the bottom, meaning that food group should make up the bulk of our diet. Fruits and vegies are on the next tier.
The Nutrition Australia Pyramid, which differs from the Guide To Healthy Eating, only has 3 tiers and recommends equal amounts of fruits, vegetables and cereals, rather than choosing the cereal group first.
Dietitian Pat McKinney from the US Department Of Agriculture thinks the problem with understanding the grain group is one of portion size, and says sedentary individuals should choose the lower fat grains, vegies, meats, and other foods.
According to the US model, one serving equals two slices of bread, a bagel, half a cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta, or 6 crackers.
A serving of vegetables is one cup of raw leafy greens, a three-quarter cup of vegetable juice, or half a cup of other vegetables. A serving of fruit could be one medium apple, a banana or orange, a melon wedge, half a cup of chopped fruit or berries or three-quarters cup fruit juice.
Servings from the third tier could include a cup of milk or yoghurt, or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese, two to three ounces of lean red meat, poultry or fish, one egg, half a cup of cooked beans or two tablespoons of seeds or nuts.
Nutrition Australia launched a campaign called 30:30 to encourage us to eat at least 30 different foods, along with 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Again, 30 foods sounds a lot but they don't mean in gigantic portions. For example, here's a great way to snazz up boring old meat and two veg: chopped lamb fillet cooked with salt-reduced soy and ginger, served with stir fried vegetables and couscous with added nuts and dried fruit.
Three foods now becomes eight, with more nutrients, minimal fat, and a lot more flavour!
Variety in your diet seems to be the key. Don't cut out your grains and cereals - just eat the very best your money can buy! Choose deliciously fresh wholegrain cereals, and sprinkle some chopped apple or sultanas on top of your brekky.
What about a big salad sandwich on wholegrain bread, bulging with lots of snap fresh ingredients! Couldn't get much better than that!
Sources: Nutrition Australia, JAMA, Kimberley Gunyou RD CNSD. Picture courtesy US Dept of Agriculture
Body talk magazine
Kerryn Marlow is the editor of Bodytalkmagazine.com