Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD
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.
One fabulous benefit of eating closer to the earth is eating much less sodium. While the CDC and most health authorities continue to badger the American public for consuming excessive salt and sodium, the truth is that not everyone is sodium sensitive and for those that are, most of the sodium in our diet comes from highly processed and adulterated foods.
When you eat mostly whole, fresh foods prepared with skill, sodium is used to enhance all flavors, not just to get to “salty”. The trouble with the general public is that we have been fed a increasingly salt saturated diet as food manufacturers and less skills cooks use salt indiscriminately. More salt in foods leads to less salt sensitivity and we become accustomed to a saltier taste or don’t notice the excessive salt at all because it is hidden behind much more intense flavors.
I started my grass fed experiment in early Fall, 2009 and documented my experiences through March of this year. I continue to navigate my “grass fed” existence, trying mightily to minimize the impact of the corn fed world that surrounds me. The benefits continue to amaze and confound me. I enjoy a much healthier gut, a stronger immune system, and less bloating and inflammation. My weight seems far more stable. I often notice a difference when I stray or am tripped up while traveling and eating away from home.
A two week excursion to the Western Caribbean and the Florida Keys in April challenged every aspect of my grass fed lifestyle. The best I could do was mostly eat fish with plenty of fruits and vegetables, knowing most of my food was raised conventionally and it is very unlikely any source of animal product was grass fed.
March 18, 2010
Inflammation is associated with everything from cardiovascular disease and diabetes to dental health. Inflammatory gum disease is considered a significant risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. I am wondering if omega three:omega 6 fatty acid ratios are a factor.
Both my husband and I had dental appointments for routine cleaning in the last few weeks. Frank has always enjoyed better dental health. He boasts of his one lifetime cavity and comes home singing from his appointments, all aglow from lots of praise for taking such good care of his teeth. I have never enjoyed such a sunny experience. In our household my teeth are considered an investment, and if the price of gold keeps going up, I may have to start fearing for my life.
March 5, 2010
The USDA recently defined organic meat and milk as livestock that has spent at least 4 months of the year grazing on pasture with at least 30% of their feed from grazing. This is noted by organic farmers as a significant improvement over the old rules stating that animals must have “access to pasture.” We know what that means–a door that opens to grass the the animals may never touch.
February 16, 2010
Real life kicked in with a vengeance last week. I worked at a conference for four days, and then literally ran to a train for a three day cycling trip with my family. Most meals were consumed away from home. And despite my best efforts, I feel different, and not in a good way. I’m not as lean and visibly more puffy– and that is despite cycling over 75 miles during the last three days.
I just returned from four days in San Francisco at a conference, eating in the real world without my grass fed resources at hand. Traveling is another world of challenges. But it is not impossible, just very different.
You can forget about finding grass fed milk lattes. I opted for tea most of the time, and succumbed to the call of Starbucks just once over the four days. San Francisco is not exactly an outpost, and in many ways Northern California trumps SoCal in terms of grass fed availability and consciousness. After all author, Michael Pollan of The Omnivore’s Dilemma teaches at UC Berkeley and Alice Waters has effectively spread the organic gospel across the bay.
February 3, 2010
Almost five months have passed since I switched to mostly grass fed animal products. I feel much the same as I did when I discovered that I benefited from a higher fat and protein diet–I can’t go back. I feel better, I am happier. I feel more resilient when the tough stuff happens. No one has erased my Italian heritage, but I don’t seem to engage the same. There is less of an obsessive, perseverating quality to my emotions. I feel them and they resonate, but they don’t overwhelm my thoughts.
January 13, 2009
I received my lab results. It’s been five months since I started the grass fed beef experiment and I am very interested to see the numbers. They are not what I wanted to see—but I also didn’t get all the test results.
Yes, my cholesterol went down, from 249 mg/dl to 229 mg/dl. But most of the decrease can be attributed to a drop in the “good” cholesterol, HDL-C, from 58 to 53.
I am grinding my own beef. If someone had suggested to me last year that I would be in this position, I would have laughed out loud.