Ah Wednesday, we are halfway through the week. Today’s topic is protein and how we can get creative with it. So as usual, I will start with a quick explanation of what protein is, probably a few ideas on how to use it differently but then we will have a closer look at why it is so important for our mental health.
I remember 20 years ago, I was just a young girl in high school with no major health problems to deal with. I remember all the cool older boys with their big muscles all talking about how much protein they had to bulk up and thinking, I will never need to know about that. How wrong I was, I personally feel
weak when I don’t have enough protein.
So what is protein?
The most basic way to explain protein is that it’s the building blocks of our body. Protein helps to build and repair the body’s tissues. We need protein to repair cells but also to make new ones. Protein is very important for growth and development in children, teens and pregnant women. We often think of proteins as meat mainly, and eggs and dairy products. Lean meat is the best so we are not having too much fat in our diets so I thought since meat is pretty self explanatory I’d give a selection, a very small one because I don’t want this to be too long, of different proteins. Some of these I knew and others I had no idea they were protein rich. So I am just going to rattle off a little list of plant based sources of protein that you may or may not have heard of.
● Peanuts and peanut butter
● Pumpkin seeds
● Pinto beans
● Green peas
● Wild rice
● Chia seeds
● Brussel sprouts
I was amazed about the brussel sprouts, amazed and over the moon, I love them.
So why is having protein so good for our mental health?
A lack of protein means that your body can’t make the required amount of neurotransmitters required. This changes how the brain works. With low levels of dopamine and serotonin we can feel depressed and even aggressive. Protein packed foods can also help us to avoid sugary processed foods because we feel fuller. Lack of a sufficient amount of protein can cause mood changes, hair skin and nail problems, weakness and fatigue, slow healing injuries and slow recovery when ill. It can also make us feel really hungry. I know from personal experience that if I’m low on protein I will snack because I don’t feel satisfied, which then leads me to put on weight , which then affects my depression more, and it goes round in a vicious circle until I can get back on my feet with the healthier eating I do actually enjoy.
I will leave you with this last thought for the day which I found fascinating. 330 billion calls are made/born each day. That takes a good amount of protein. There are 86 billions cells in the human brain, all of which need help to repair. So if we are not looking after these cells by giving them the energy they need, how will we ever feel good mentally?
Tomorrow I will be talking about hydration and how important it is for our mental health. I hope a few of these pieces over the last few days have helped even a little. We can’t change everything overnight but every journey starts with one step. Stay safe. M.
Three cheers for our resident foodie volunteer. x