By Geoff Caplan
Weíve heard it all before: you are what you eat.
It sounds funny, but there really is a lot of truth in that statement. After all, food fuels the body and the type of food we eat affects our bodyís metabolism, digestive processes and overall well-being.
Itís not a reach, then, to realize that the type of food eaten directly affects our health.
Love tomatoes? Plenty of good nutrients there. Trying to reduce carbohydrates and add more protein to your diet? Not a bad idea if the balance is right. After all, you donít want to fall into the danger pit that fad diets bring to the table (if youíll excuse the pun).
Next to water, food is one of the essential fuels of life. So why is what we eat so important?
Itís all about balance. Thatís one of the key reasons programs like the phenomenally successful eDiets system work. It addresses meal planning, exercise, motivation and a comprehensive lifestyle approach that is easy to use in your everyday life.
Love potatoes? They sure are tasty as part of a balanced meal plan. But you had better watch those portions and the toppings, too.
Have you ever noticed how sluggish and heavy you feel after eating fried foods? Your body is definitely telling you something. ďThis is wrong. This is unhealthy. This is not good for the body.Ē
Likewise, how about the good feelings that originate with low-fat foods? Or after some consistent exercise with those low-fat foods? Wow! The combination of endorphins and good nutrients packs an incredible punch.
There have been some interesting case studies about diet and behavior. Foods such as whole grains, beans and vegetables are rich in complex carbohydrates and increase the brain's supply of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is believed to induce calm and relaxed mental states.
Eggs and other animal food increase the levels of acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter. That may help explain why people who consume grains and vegetables with little or no animal food often seem calm and even-tempered in comparison to those who consume plenty of meat and other animal foods.
The low levels of serotonin that result from a diet high in animal foods may also contribute to impulsive behavior. Studies of prison inmates conducted in Finland have shown that those with the most impulsive behavior patterns were found to have the lowest levels of metabolized serotonin in the spinal fluid when compared to non-impulsive prisoners and controls.
The impulsive inmates were also found to have low blood sugar levels. Researchers found that 81 percent of repeat offenders had abnormally low blood sugar levels. Low levels of serotonin, together with low levels of blood sugar, characterized 84 percent of the repeat offenders studied.
Diet affects the body's secretion of hormones, and these influence behavior. In a study conducted at Yale, the intake of refined sugar was found to dramatically increase blood levels of adrenaline in children. In children who were tested after being given an amount of sugar equivalent to two cupcakes, levels of adrenaline increased 10 times. Adrenaline, secreted by the adrenal glands during times of stress, initiates the "fight or flight" response. It produces such effects as rapid heartbeat, quick shallow breathing and nervousness.
High adrenaline levels lead to anxiety and make it difficult to think clearly. Parents often notice that children behave in an aggressive, hyperactive and erratic manner after eating plenty of sugary foods, and this study offers a possible biochemical explanation for this reaction. Researchers are realizing that diet has a profound effect on the brain and nervous system, and thus on our mental and emotional condition.
Yes, you are definitely what you eat. Need we say more?
For more information on food, diet and nutrition, visit holisticonline.com