Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD - Enough Protein: Key to decreased incidence of Gestational Diabetes
Enough protein is key to development, health and well being for most of us. But current research looking at the role of dietary protein and the synthesis of both serotonin and insulin producing beta cell in the pancreas is fascinating. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-06/uoc–gdl062510.php
The research postulates that adequate protein provides the necessary tryptophan–an amino acid that is the precursor of serotonin–that is necessary to produce adequate serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that enhances a state of calm and contentment. How interesting that it may be the serotonin receptors in the pancreas are key in the proliferation of beta cells that help the pregnant woman’s body produce the insulin needed during pregnancy. Without enough protein, the researchers suspect serotonin production is limited, which limits beta cell proliferation as well as insulin production. The result: increased incidence of gestational diabetes.
I have long observed the enhanced sense of well being when many of my clients eat enough protein. There is a greater sense of satiety and authentic energy over a longer period of time than they eat a higher carbohydrate diet. Ironically during past decades, serotonin production from tryptophan was thought to be enhanced by eating more carbohydrate (hence, books titled, Potatoes, not Prozac). I never quite accepted that theory since when I eat carbohydrates by themselves, I don’t feel calm and serene–mostly I feel drowsy and like I want to take a nap.
We eat 12 months of “harvest”
In these days of 12 months a year of “harvest”, it is very easy to eat excessive carbohydrates and not enough protein. In addition, nutrition science “experts”, most recently in the newly formed 2010 Dietary Guidelines–continue to press for less animal products in the diet. My experience is that such these guidelines have a role in promoting too little protein in the diet ever since their inception in the 1970’s.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are out for public comment. I am all for the emphasis on whole plant foods, but the continued assault on animal proteins seems more and more out of touch with research that is addressing the incidence of all types of diabetes–research that tells us enough protein is important.
Now, if we can just start feeding most animals their natural diet instead of fattening them up with subsidized corn, soy and outdated pastries….