Protein is so important. It is the nutrient that supports your body in building healthy tissues and cells. Not only this, but it is responsible for our hormones, our mood, blood sugar balance and our enzymatic processes.
Proteins are fundamental structural and functional elements within every cell of the body and are involved in a wide range of metabolic interactions.
Proteins are used every day to keep the body going. Because they’re used to develop, grow and maintain just about every part of our bodies, from our skin and hair to our digestive enzymes and immune system antibodies , they’re constantly being broken down and must be replaced.
Vital organs, muscles, tissues and even some hormones of the body are made from proteins. Additionally, proteins create haemoglobin and important antibodies. Proteins are involved in just about every body function from controlling blood sugar levels, keeping our neurotransmitters balanced to healing wounds and fighting off bacteria.
Protein and your mood
Nutrition can play an important role in achieving better mental health.
Studies have shown that adults with depression who ate a diet rich in produce, fish and legumes experienced a reduction of their symptoms.
Foods rich in protein contain amino acids to help produce key neurotransmitters in preventing and treating depression and anxiety. Protein packed meals and snacks help you avoid sugary, processed foods, which can trigger anxiety and depression. A diet rich in protein also helps improve energy levels, giving you the strength to get moving and feel better.
Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, play an important role in the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals which allow brain cells to communicate with each other. For example, if you eat a piece of chicken, your body breaks down the protein and synthesises the amino acid L-Tyrosine to produce Dopamine.
Low dopamine levels are associated with a whole host of disorders, including depression, addiction. ADHD, Alzheimers and schizophrenia.The amino acid L-Tryptophan, which can be found in poultry, fish, dairy and nuts, serves a precursor to serotonin. Eating foods rich in L-Tryptophan can help improve mood and help SSRIs and other antidepressants work better.
Your brain is very reliant on several amino acids in order to manufacture neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are commonly referred to as brain hormones because they enable communication between different regions of the brain, and they significantly impact your mood, emotions and cognitive functions.
Tryptophan is an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin. You have probably heard serotonin referred to as the happy hormone. Serotonin is a compound in the brain that promotes feelings of relaxation, happiness, security and confidence.
A serotonin deficiency can result in depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety and a tendency to overeat, especially carbohydrates like sugar. Feeling stressed can deplete your brain of serotonin, and levels decline as we age. Eggs, salmon, turkey, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are all good sources of tryptophan.
An important amino acid for the brain is Tyrosine. Tyrosine is required for the manufacture of the brain chemicals dopamine and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). These neurotransmitters are required for concentration, alertness, memory and a happy, stable mood. They may also help you to handle stress more easily and feel less overwhelmed by problems.
Tyrosine is also required for the manufacture of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones help to control your metabolic rate, but they also play a critical role in mood. Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid gland) is a common cause of depression. What you may not know is that even a slightly under functioning thyroid gland can flatten your mood, reduce your motivation and your ability to concentrate. Tyrosine is found in fish, turkey, chicken, avocados, almonds and a few other foods.
Essential amino acids
There are about 20 different amino acids commonly found in plant and animal proteins. For adults, 8 of these, have to be provided in the diet and are therefore defined as ‘essential’ or ‘indispensable’ amino acids. These are:
In children, arginine, histidine, cysteine, glycine, tyrosine, glutamine and proline are also considered to be essential (indispensable) amino acids, because children are unable to make enough to meet their needs. These are referred to as ‘conditionally’ essential. There may also be certain disease states during adult life when a particular amino acid becomes conditionally essential.
How much protein should we eat?
The Dietary Reference Values for protein are based on estimates of need. For adults, an average requirement of 0.6g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day is estimated.
There is an extra requirement for growth in infants and children and for pregnant and breast feeding women. Any excess protein can be used to provide energy.
Good sources of protein
Protein content of some common foods found in the diet:
Protein content (g) per 100g
Chicken breast (grilled without skin) - 32
Beef steak (lean grilled) - 31.0
Lamb chop (lean grilled) - 29.2
Pork chop (lean grilled) - 31.6
Tuna (canned in brine) - 23.5
Mackerel (grilled) - 20.8
Salmon (grilled) - 24.2
Cod (grilled) - 20.8
Prawns - 22.6
Mussels - 16.7
Crabsticks - 10
Chicken eggs 12.5
Whole milk - 3.3
Semi-skimmed milk - 3.4
Skimmed milk - 3.4
Cheddar cheese - 25.4
Half-fat cheddar - 32.7
Cottage cheese - 12.6
Whole milk yogurt - 5.7
Low fat yogurt (plain) - 4.8
Red lentils 7.6
Kidney beans n- 6.9
Baked beans - 5.2
Tofu (soya bean steamed) - 8.1
Wheat flour (brown) - 12.6
Bread (brown) - 7.9
Bread (white) - 7.9
Rice (easy cook boiled) - 2.6
Oatmeal - 11.2
Pasta (fresh cooked) 6.6
Almonds - 21.1
Walnuts - 14.7
Hazelnuts - 14.1
Adults and children should consume two to three servings of protein every day. If plant sources dominate, it is important to make sure that different types are consumed.
One typical portion size equates to:
• 100g of lean boneless meat (red and poultry)
• 140g of fish
• 2 medium eggs
• 3 tablespoons of seeds or nuts.
When buying protein, make sure it’s from organic, natural sources. Non-organic protein derived from animals are loaded with hormones, antibiotics, steroids and other chemicals that may cause you more health complications.
You can go to the website nutritiondata.com and look up the amount of protein in the amount of food you’ve consumed.
If you go to DrAxe.com and search for protein in the search box, you will find a plethora of recipes and protein snack ideas that you can explore. Dr Axe is also a great resource for learning more about natural health.
Dairy – yoghurt, cottage cheese, fromage frais, Greek yoghurt, etc
White fish, e.g. Coley, Cod, Haddock, Sole, Bass, Sole, Halibut, Whiting
Oily fish, e.g. salmon, trout, herrings, sardines, mackerel, pilchards, fresh tuna
Beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas
Hummus (made from chickpeas and sesame seeds)
Baked beans – check for the sugar content, choose organic unsweetened if possible
Tofu – either plain that can be marinated or stir-fried, or as sausages or burgers
Nuts and seeds (in moderation) – raw and unsalted and avoid peanuts
Whey protein powders - avoid if lactose intolerant
Soy protein isolates
Amino acid formulas in tablets or capsules
Protein Combining – combining two or more different types of protein can maximise the bio-availability of amino acids, e.g.
Eggs and lean ham or fish
Baked beans, eggs and salmon
Cottage cheese and fish
Steak and eggs
So, if you are looking at this and thinking that maybe you aren`t getting enough protein in your diet, give it a go.
Most people notice considerable differences in their energy, mood and general well-being after assessing and increasing (if necessary) their protein content.
It is SUCH a lovely day, here in the UK. It`s been a cold and wet winter so the sunshine today and the heat on our skin has felt divine.
The nights are still cold enough to need the log burner on though, so I am still tending to favour the hearty, warming foods for our evening meals that have got us through the winter.
So here is what is on our evening meal list this week -
30 Minute creamy, Garlic chicken skillet (dairy free and gluten free)
This is creamy because it uses coconut milk. No dairy involved. I am going to omit the arrowroot powder.
I`ll be doing this with some broccoli and greens on the side and some home made potato wedges
4 Ingredient Mediterranean Stuffed Salmon
This makes my mouth water just looking at it!
If you are dairy free, you will want to remove the feta, unless you aren`t sensetive to feta. Some people find that they can tolerate feta and sheep milk products ok. Unfortunately, I am not one of those and avoid all dairy. I might add in some pine nuts to the stuffing, if I can open the bag without my little girl noticing or they will be gone in a jiffy!
I`m going to add some basil also and serve this with kale, broccoli and green beans. I might do some baby potatoes with it also.
When buying salmon, remember to pay a little extra if you can and get the wild salmon. Farmed salmon is heavily burdened with chemicals. I have decided to buy a salmon side rather than individual portions.
Creamy, chicken and potato casserole (dairy and gluten free)
Yum! I`ll be doing this with a great big bowl of salad. Little one and I won`t be having bacon, but my partner will gladly tuck into some as a treat. Bacon is a contentious food really... it contains nitrates which are linked to cancer and other illnesses. My partner is as fit as a flea and has absolutely no health conditions, so the odd rash here or there is acceptable for him. If you are on an anti-inflammatory diet then you should avoid bacon.
Crispy, Ginger Mackerel
Quite a few Paleo recipes use ghee. That`s ok if you aren`t totally dairy free. If you are dairy free like us, just substitute it for a little olive oil.
I`ll be doing double the fish portions per person and maybe even triple for my partner who doesn`t get filled up very well on fish. There`s lots of omega 3 in mackerel so we`ll be getting a good dose of essential fatty acids from this dish.
I`ll be doing potatoes with this, possibly slightly roasted.
Vegan Shakshuka with Tofu and White Beans
I`ll be adding some eggs on top and baking them in the Shakshuka at the end of the cooking time. I`ve also doubled up the mount of canellini beans.
That`s it from me for another week... what ever you are up to, enjoy!
Love and health,
Hi Folks, here`s this week`s meal plan.
We have a birthday in the house this week. My little one has turned 10. Crikey me, I have no idea how that happened so quickly,
Birthdays are hard to keep healthy but I`m going for dairy free, fried chicken in a basket ( I had no idea that the coating in fried chicken is milk!) I know that doesn`t sound too healthy and the coating definitely isn`t, but it`s her birthday. The chicken is organic and she`ll have a lovely salad with it so I don`t feel too bad. I`m doing a great big fruit salad for pudding as she is such a fruit fiend. I also have a dairy free carrot cake for her.
So, let`s begin...
One skillet Greek Chicken
Oh, I really love a one-pot meal. This one has lovely Greek flavours. I`ll be serving this with brown rice.
Salmon Pasta with Spinach
We hardly ever eat pasta in our house, but I fancied it this week. I`ll be cooking this with gluten free pasta and a plant based cream alternative. I`ve also opted to add in some extra smoked salmon for a bit of a smokey flavour.
Crunch Wrap Supreme
I`ll be doing this vegan dish with gluten - free tortillas for me. I have found a new brand and have pinned my hopes on them that they will be good. The others I`ve had in the past are pretty rubbery and dry.
I think this dish would be easier if the rice was made upfront or even a day before, so that`s what I will be doing.
Prawn, Avocado Quinoa bowl
Prawns are a good source of Zinc, which is hard to get from food, particularly if you don`t eat red meat. I think I might get moaned at about this one as neither Mark or Bella are fans of quinoa, but hey ho... if they`re hungry, they`ll eat it.
Well, that`s it for another week,
Love and healthy as always,
Happy international women`s day one and all. I thought I would take this day to share my story.
I`m Eve, Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist, mother, partner in crime to a wonderful man and child of the universe.
Several years ago, I got really ill.
I was told when my little girl was very small that I had a genetic condition that would affect everything made of collagen in my body. Well - that`s just about everything from your eyes, heart, intestines, womb, skin, joints and everything else in between.
I used to faint A LOT. My brains messaging system to my blood pressure was a bit wonky. After many stays in a neurological hospital in London, it eventually was figured out and I was told that I had Ehlers Danlos syndrome (EDS) and Hashimotos. This had been worsening over the years and started to rear it`s head in my 30s. A bit like a car starts to go a bit wrong as it gets older.
At one point things got really bad for me. I literally couldn`t get out of bed. Every time I was vertical, I would faint.
I thought my life was ending, it was THAT bad.
The fatigue I felt was like I had been hit by a bus. It was truly awful. Initially, I succumbed to the diagnoses and went down a hole of depression about it. Life felt really like an uphill battle.
One day I was given a book all about the power of nutrition. It changed my life. I thought it was worth a try and I stocked the house up with ingredients I`d never heard of and so many fruit and vegetables! I bought a nutribullet and was juicing like crazy.
After seeing how many people end up crippled with EDS, both with joint and organ problems, I decided that was NOT the route that I would take.
I reassessed my life to see what was actually important and got rid of anything that caused stress or anxiety. I took natural supplements and gradually my light inside started to glow again.
My recovery wasn`t fast, but it happened. There`s still things I work on absolutely every single day and I still faint a bit, but i`m in a place of vitality now, thriving, thanks to the power of nature.
I retrained after this to help others. My EDS really affected my fertility and I was so lucky to eventually have a successful pregnancy with my little girl. Because of this, I was naturally drawn to women`s health, fertility and children`s health.
I absolutely love making a difference to everyone I help, and there`s nothing more joyous than receiving a text message from one of my ladies telling me that they have finally conceived.
I want you to know that when you are given a diagnosis, you will need a period of adjustment where mentally you have to delve into the details of it, and probably scare yourself senseless. But after you have gone through this process, you can move on from that and start to explore other avenues regarding your health.
Sending you love and health as always,
wow! It`s March already.
We had some glorious and much needed sunshine at the weekend and our bikes came out for the first time this year. We had a lovely trek around our local woodland, it really was beautiful. The ladybirds were out of hibernation and there was even an early tortoiseshell butterfly or two.
March has arrived and we are back in a cold front again though. You know what they say about March here in the UK? If it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb (and vice versa). Meaning if its a bad start to March then it will end gloriously (and vice versa). I wouldn`t say that it is a bad start to March, just a cold one, so we shall see.
Well... here we are again then.... this week`s menu at my house.
I have to explain a few things about our eating habits... Mark loves meat. All kinds of meat and would happily eat it everyday. I was vegetarian from being 11 years old. I was vegan for a couple of years whilst healing from a health condition, but in recent years after studying nutrition and biomedical science in great detail, I have adapted to having fish and organic chicken. I can`t bring myself to eat any other type of meat though.
Non of us have dairy. Mark has always had an aversion to it from being little and I am severely intolerant to it. My little girl seems to follow in her dads footsteps and really isn`t keen either.
Am I worried about calcium intake? Not at all.
There`s so much calcium in our food if we eat a nutritious and varied diet that it isn`t an issue at all. Also, unless you buy organic dairy products, unfortunately you are consuming secondary antibiotics and what ever else is given to cattle on a regular basis.
Many people are really intolerant to dairy products. You can read about dairy intolerance here . As we age, the levels of lactase that we produce (an enzyme that breaks down lactose in dairy products) declines. This happens very quickly after the age of around 2 years - the age when mother nature thinks we should be weaning from our mothers milk. For this reason, many people find dairy difficult to digest.
Whilst Mark and Bella enjoy wheat products and have no reactions to them, I choose not to eat anything with gluten in. I`m also very careful in keeping the amount that they eat to an absolute minimum.
Gluten will cause problems in everyone`s digestive tract, even if you don`t feel symptoms from eating it. Gluten causes problems with the gut-brain connection and can really affect mood balance, energy levels and blood sugar balance. It is a substance that we haven`t evolved to eat in the way that we do. I`m also intolerant to it so avoid it at all costs. Every time you eat a food you are intolerant to, you are basically flooding your system with cortisol and inflammatory chemicals. As we know, inflammation is the root cause of all disease, so if you are intolerant to something - don`t eat it!!!
You can read more about avoiding gluten here.
Ok... first meal coming up. Thank you, once again to all the recipe creators out there that save me so many headaches.
Just click on the pictures to go to the recipe.
Chicken and leek casserole
I always seem to get drawn to leeks in the spring. This casserole has leeks and white beans in. I`m going to add some potatoes on the side.
Greek Chicken Orzo Bowl
This is a lovelf, fresh feeling meal to have in early spring. Be careful though - Orzo contains gluten
I will be making some rice on the side with some mint in to have instead of the orzo. I`ll also be making my own version of tzatziki using plant based yohurt.
The orzo is pretty filling so no need to make anything to go with this dish.
Baked Huevos Rancheros
This is actually a traditional Mexican breakfast meal, but food is food and my ethos is - you can eat any meal at any time! We need to break away from the brain washing and conditioning that puts breakfast articles of very little nutritious value in the "breakfast" pigeon hole. If you want casserole for breakfast - go for it! Have what you like, when you like - providing it is nutritious and fuelling your body the right way.
Anyway - I absolutely love Mexican food and this makes a really good evening meal. I won`t be putting this in individual pots, I will be doing it all in one shallow dutch oven I have.
Poached Salmon in coconut and lime
It`s a good idea to eat oily fish twice a week. It`s an easy habit to get into if you just plan one or two evening meals a week as a salmon or mackerel dish. There`s also herrings and sardines that are oily fish. I tend to get the other serving in my family during lunch times or breakfast and usually use mackerel somewhere or other.
This dish is so fragrant and tasty. I`ll be doing it with jasmine rice.
Super simple Chicken Curry
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