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Monday, January 29, 2007

Food and Mood: Is There a Connection?

I have lately been craving for some particular food when I am feeling stressed out or when I am feeling low about something and when I do eat them, my feelings change. In the beginning I attributed it to being part of menopause. I started asking my friends and they said eating certain food affects a person’s mood or there’s a psychological basis for cravings. So I looked it up and here’s what Robin Brett Parnes, MS, MPH has to say:

Carbohydrates (like bread and pasta) and proteins which contain the amino acid tryptophan (like milk and turkey) are thought to have a calming effect because they stimulate the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is involved in a large number of body functions, including sleep, appetite, learning, hormonal secretions, and immune activity. But, experts argue, the effect these foods have is small, particularly in comparison to the potent drugs that enhance serotonin function in the brain. What science does indicate is that a carbohydrate meal in its simplest form, such as a baked potato or a piece of bread, can have a mild sedative effect on people.

The amino acid tyrosine, on the other hand, may in fact alter mood by improving cognition and performance. Tyrosine is found in protein-rich foods like eggs, beans, and nuts, as well as meat, fish, and dairy products. It is a precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (adrenaline), which affect brain cells by making you alert and getting you going.

As for why you feel drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner or other such meals, it’s because consuming a lot of calories (of any kind) has a hypnotic effect. Less blood (and therefore, less oxygen) reaches the brain as more blood flows to your stomach and intestines (to aid in digestion).

And, what about fat? Some experts think eating fat releases morphine-like chemicals called endorphins that induce a sense of euphoria. However, the extent to which any differences in behavior or cognition occur with different types of fat from your diet remains a topic of debate.

Food cravings, or the strong desire to eat certain foods, are both normal and common. While they vary by culture and individual, generally women tend to crave chocolate, cookies, ice cream, and other sweets, while men prefer salty or meat treats like chips, burgers, french fries, or pizza.

According to some studies, there is a physiologic (versus psychological) basis for cravings. Scientists aren’t sure why, but the fact that women report intense cravings during pre-menstruation suggests that hormones may play a role. Negative feelings, researchers also say, may be relieved by certain foods. Still others argue that having low blood sugar or a nutritional deficiency explains cravings. In addition, some researchers suggest that we are hardwired to seek calorie-dense foods as a survival mechanism (that is, our affinity for high calorie foods comes from an instinct inherited from our ancestors, who needed to store fat so that when food became scarce, they had their bodily stores to live off of).

But, as mentioned above, it is not clear that eating certain foods will improve mood. Also, thoughts and attitudes related to food are influenced not just by the urge to eat certain foods but by many other factors, such as feelings about relationships or work. And, it doesn’t follow that cravings stem from nutritional deficiencies. For example, while chocolate may be a good source of magnesium (a mineral of which many Americans do not consume the recommended daily amounts), other foods like avocados and spinach are better sources and you don’t tend to hear about people craving these foods. Moreover, some self-reported chocolate addicts feel not just pleasure, but guilt after eating chocolate. And of course, some people experience no cravings as all.

To control cravings, don’t deny yourself the foods you wish to eat. Remember, all foods eaten in moderation can fit into a healthful diet.

Foods can affect the way we feel, but many factors beyond nutrition play a role in mood. Thus, there’s no need to focus on one type of food versus another. In fact, at most meals, you probably eat a combination of carbohydrate, protein, and fat anyway. And, regardless of how one type of food can affect your mood, chances are if you eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising, you’ll feel better.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007
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These are photos of my class when we celebrated our silver jubilee in July 16, 1996. All my classmates who are now residing in different parts of the country came home to celebrate this homecoming. Our mentors including the nuns joined us in this very memorable occasion. It was a whole week affair and we were able to touch base and keep in touch with those whom we never had the chance to communicate with since we parted on graduation day. A website was then created by our class so we could continue keeping the Paulinian Nurses' Spirit aglow.

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The SILVER JUBILARIANS during the Dinner Dance Night

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The SILVER JUBILARIANS in front of the school's chapel

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

I am truly blessed to see God in the ordinary. Living in the city for almost 41 years has made me miss the small wonders of nature that are everywhere. The pace of life speeds along so fast that the time for noticing nature’s beauty slips away.

My recent trip to the province which took 10 hours by land gave me this chance to pause and pay attention to what a blessing the simple life provides. As our bus went through mountains, valleys, hills, plateaus and rivers, I was awakened to the presence of God himself. The awareness moved me gently and naturally towards the simpler life I desired.

As I toured the different beautiful sites of Tuguegarao, I was able to feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf, the rough shaggy bark of an old old tree and the velvety texture of flowers that do not grow in my area. It allowed me to smell too the fragrance of peonies and the clean scent of grass.

Thank you again God. The experience has indeed nourished my soul and has made nearer to You. I will try to do this more often.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sorry, but I can't help putting words in my wordless post this week. I just have to share the breathtaking experience I had while I was on an out of town trip last weekend. Photo above is just one of them. This is one of the hundred caves of Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley-Philippines called Callao. This area has a chapel. In front of the benches is the altar and above it is an opening to the cave which serves as the source of light. To get to this part of the cave, we had to go up 164 steps. The tiring climb was really worth it.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

I am thankful that my management team was able to achieve the goals that we have set in 2006 without much difficulty due to good teamwork. I look forward to achieving at the same rate or even at a better rate the goals we are setting for 2007.

I am thankful that all the major equipment we have purchased in October 2006 have all been delivered with minimal problem encountered with the Customs Office. They too have been calibrated by their respective companies and all have passed the radiation safety requirements set by the Department of Health. We can now better service our patients with these state-of-the-art machines.

I am very thankful that I was able to arrange my very busy schedule this week so I could attend the centennial celebration of my alma mater. I will be going on an out-of-town trip until Monday. I am very excited because I haven't been able to get this chance to take this number of days break from work in a long long time.

And lastly, I'd like to thank God for all of the above and for making everyone in the family healthy and happy.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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Monday, January 15, 2007
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Are you a coffee drinker? If you are, then do you remember the days when you could order a cup of coffee in four syllables? A cup of coffee was a "cup of coffee." That's it. These days, coffee has been accessorized to triple its original syllablage. Or even more.

I am amazed at many of my friends for being the accessory overachiever when it comes to taking their coffee. They are pretty excited about coffees that can be accessorized and enhanced until they're hardly coffee anymore. Just like a Grande Espresso Mocha or Caramel Macchiato with extra foam and chocolate sprinkles! They love a shot of this flavor and a dollop of that topping. Sprinkles?

They are not even bothered about how much it costs because for them it can be a great life-thing. As for me, I still prefer not to accessorize my coffee. How about you?

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Saturday, January 13, 2007
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TECHNOLOGY is this week's theme

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This is my mobile unit. It is a Sony Ericsson K610i. It is one of the smallest 3G phones available and it’s packed with powerful features. This third generation of mobile networks brings the convenience of broadband internet to my mobile phone. It gives me quick, easy access to a world of video calls, audio and video streaming, web surfing, multimedia messaging and email wherever I go.

I have been used to a Nokia unit for years now so I found it difficult to adjust to this one in the beginning. But after using it for a week, I am truly amazed at how technology has advanced. With this phone, I just don’t call them, I can see them too! While talking, I can download or share videos, games and music. I chose this phone because I can use it while I am at work in the hospital because it has a flight mode feature which inactivates radio transmitters and receivers so that some functions can be used.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
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Saturday, January 06, 2007

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This Week's Theme - MEMORY

This is my dad. He is of Irish and Japanese descent and was born here in the Philippines in 1910. His father was assigned to head the English shipyard in Cavite and on his way to the Philippines, he passed by Japan and this is where he met my grandmother. Daddy was an architect by profession and he was the head of a construction department of the biggest sugar mill in our country. He worked for this company from 1945 up to 1998. He was forced to stopped working because he figured in an accident wherein he broked his femur. He underwent surgery but because he was 88 years old at that time, healing was not that very good. He did not respond to therapy as well as we expected so he moved around with a walker and cane for almost 2 years. At age 90, he stopped walking. He could only move down from bed to his bedside chair but other than that he was very healthy. In January 7, 2002, he woke up bothered by a phlegm in his throat that he was finding difficult to clear so I sent him medicines to take. A few minutes after taking the pill, he coughed and just leaned on my mom's shoulder and that moment he stopped breathing. By the time the ambulance and I got to him he was already dead. He will be celebrating his 5th death anniversary tomorrow and just like the past years, the entire family will be around to commemorate it by gathering together and praying.

To Daddy, you are missed a lot especially when there are projects that my grandson need in school. I used to remember how you would stay up late doing it for me and my siblings and later on for my daughter. We were always getting awards in school for the work you have done for us. I am happy to let you know that my daughter has taken after you. She has been able to do the same for her son now and just like you, he too has been winning awards for her work.

Daddy we love you dearly!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Wordless Wednesday
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Monday, January 01, 2007


To kind people, to meaningful relationships, to simplier lifestyles, to more time for loved ones, to laughter, to contentment, to tasty food, to gentle rains, to lovely sunsets, to fine coffee, to cooler nights, to traffic-free journeys, to good books and movies, to God, to country, to family, to friends, to peace in our hearts. May we all have a great year ahead. God Bless us always.

From My Family To Yours

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