IF WE ARE WHAT WE EAT THEN WE’RE IN TROUBLE
Feb 25, 2011 Posted by Corrie Shenigo
Every now and again, I step off the crazy train and get all logic-y about looking and feeling better. These zen-like moments happen several times a year, usually when I’ve been particularly stressed or particularly naughty (you know… hotdogs, cocktail parties, uncontrollable emotional shopping – the fun stuff). It’s almost like an unseen force steps in and suddenly the answers to my lack of energy, my hotdog bloated mid-section, and my inability to carry on anything resembling a conversation seem succinctly clear – so clear, in fact, that their simplicity seems completely reasonable and manageable... and so I give them a shot (at least for a while.) The simple truth is… you are what you eat. (I realize this means I am likely a hotdog with a side of sauerkraut balls. What.) And in today’s quest to find manageable and natural ways to combat my recent spate of exhaustion, stress and inability to communicate in complete sentences, I’ve decided to clean up my eating habits and start to look at food as the ‘natural medicine’ it is. In a fit of kismet, Health.com recently published some handy tips for defeating several of life’s little dragons through nutrition alone with an article titled “The Top Power Foods For You: What to eat (and not to eat) to feel peppier, sharper, more svelte, and simply better all over.” And while the title is a little wordy, it got me all excited because 1.) I narcissistically believe author Leslie Barrie is a mind-reader and wrote the article especially for me (*gasp – For me?!?! Oh you shouldn’t have!), and 2.) I don’t have to do the research. Hurrah! So, Ms. Barrie… just what should we be eating to combat the crazy train? Let’s start with energy, or more accurately a lack-there-of. I’ve had plenty of slothy days lately where I feel like I could fall into a narcoleptic nap-hole at any moment, and let me just say that my productivity has... to put it gently… declined.
The remedy, as Ms. Barrie sees it, is to up the iron. That means more red meats, fish, poultry, soybeans, lentils, spinach and fortified cereals (sadly, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean Count Chocula.) Since iron isn’t necessarily easily absorbed by the human body, try to up your vitamin C intake as well, and remember ladies… the heavier your period, the more iron you’re losing when Aunt Flow comes a knocking, so that would also be an excellent time to load up on iron-rich foods. Hurrah! A perfect excuse to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day… again! Feeling a little crampy and achy after a workout? According to Carol Haggan, RD and super fancy scientific and health communications consultant with the National Institute of Health, it could be that you’re low on our little electrolyte friends, potassium and magnesium. Ms. Barrie totally ignores where low-self esteemed magnesium fits in, but explains that potassium works with sodium to keep muscle contractions in check, so if you sweat it out, you may have to deal with some pain in your calves or feet. (Did anyone just hear the bell chime for NBC? Cause I just did.) Prunes, OJ (Not Mr. Simpson) and baked potatoes have all sorts of potassium in them, as does bananas (One bazillion monkeys can’t be wrong.) As for magnesium? Think almonds (How happy are you, A?) and most other nuts, greens and bran flakes. Another cramp fighting super hero is calcium, so try a little low-fat milk, tofu and dark leafy greens. (I’m going to pretend that last sentence read: eat lots of awesome, amazing, stinky cheese!) Another issue lately is that I’ve had the attention span of a 4 year-old hopped up on a crap-load of candy (might be because I’ve been hopped up on a crap-load of candy.) So, at the suggestion of our illustrious Ms. Barrie, it’s time to up my intake of those brain-boosting nutrients omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. “Omega-3s are loaded with DHA, a type of fatty acid that helps promote well-functioning synapses,” explains Joseph Quinn, MD and associate professor of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. (Um… is that a good thing?) Yep, what he means is Omega-3s keep the worker bee neurons in your brain firing effectively with little tiny marksman guns. Meanwhile, a lack of B12 has been linked with the annoying trio that has taken over my personality: confusion, numbness and fatigue. According to the NIH, I’m not alone. 15% of American’s could be low on B12, due in some part to the fact that some people have a hard time absorbing it. So let’s start a club. Or we can just start eating fatty, omega-3-rich fish like mackerel, trout, herring, tuna and salmon, and such B12 superstars as a good fortified breakfast cereal (Step aside Chocula.), yogurt, cheese, whole eggs, ham and cooked clams. And if the hotdog withdrawal has you more jittery than a fresh-in-rehab starlet, there’s one really good way to calm down. Stay off the carbs. More accurately, the refined carbs that are high in white flour. (Sadly, you’re going to have to say goodbye to cookies, sugary cereals (Dammit Chocula! I’m not telling you again!), white bread.) <
“A big dose of refined carbs causes your blood sugar level to soar and an excessive amount of insulin to be secreted by the pancreas,” says Alyse Levine, RD and nutrion advisor for Livestrong.com. What she’s saying in science-speak is that the antsy, anxious jitteriness could be cause by an overdose of refined carbs. (I shed tiny tears. Tiny tears.)
'til Next Time!