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An Alternative to "Prozac"?
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Inside you, the essential amino acid L-tryptophan is broken down into anxiety-reducing, snooze-inducing niacin. Even more important, tryptophan is also made into serotonin, one of your body's most important neurotransmitters. Serotonin gives a feeling of well-being and mellowness, or as the Australians would say, "no worries." This is such a profound effect that Prozac, Paxil and similar antidepressants usually either mimic serotonin or artificially keep the body's own serotonin levels high. You can do the same thing with your food. And no one can tell us that beans, peas, cheese, nuts and wheat germ are toxic if you eat a lot of them!
Plenty of carbohydrates (starches) in your meals help tryptophan get to where it does the most good: in your brain. In order to cross the blood-brain barrier to get in, carbos are required. So cheese and crackers provides a better effect than the cheese standing alone. An egg or two on toast is better than just the egg. Beans, peas, and nuts already contain carbohydrate, so you are all set there.
Consider that five servings of beans, a few portions of cheese or peanut butter, or just one big handful of cashews provides one to two thousand milligrams of tryptophan, which will work as well as prescription antidepressants... but don't tell the drug companies. Some skeptics think that the pharmaceutical people already know. Here are two quotes in evidence:
"Pay careful attention to what is happening with dietary supplements in the legislative arena... If these efforts are successful, there could be created a class of products to compete with approved drugs. The establishment of a separate regulatory category for supplements could undercut exclusivity rights enjoyed by the holders of approved drug applications."
(FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy David Adams, at the Drug Information Association Annual Meeting, July 12, 1993)
"The task force considered many issues in its deliberations including to ensure that the existence of dietary supplements on the market does not act as a disincentive for drug development."
(FDA Dietary Task Force Report, released June 15, 1993)
Remember that tryptophan is one of the ten essential amino acids you need to stay alive. It is by law added to liquid feedings for the elderly and all infant formulas. This says a great deal about its safety, as well as its importance.
And, tryptophan is really quite easy to get from the good foods listed below.
So go; eat; and be happy!
Foods high in the Amino Acid L-Tryptophan (in milligrams (mg) per 100 gram (3.5 ounce) portion), about the size of a deck of playing cards. That is not a large serving, and in a single meal you might easily double or triple the figures listed here.
Beans Lentils 215 mg Dried Peas 250 Navy (pea) 200 Pinto Beans 210
Red Kidney 215 Soy 525
Nuts and Seeds Nuts 185 mg Cashews 470 Filberts 210 Peanuts 340 Peanut Butter 330 (this is for natural peanut butter, not popular commercial brands) Pumpkin Seed 560 Sesame Seeds 330-575 (if seeds are ground up) Sunflower 340
Other nuts generally provide at least 130 milligrams per small serving; usually more.
Grains Wheat Germ 265 mg
Cheese Cheddar: 340 mg Parmesan: 490 Swiss: 375
Other cheeses tend to be lower in tryptophan, but are still very good sources.
Eggs 210 mg
Brewer's Yeast 700 mg
(Source: US Department of Agriculture, Amino Acid Content of Foods.)
Meats are generally regarded as a good source of tryptophan, organ meats supposedly being the highest. However, most meats are in the range of 160 to 260 mg/100 g, (chicken is about 250) with organ meats ranging between 220 and 330. These figures certainly do not compel meat eating. Compare with soybeans, split peas, cheese and cashews!
Copyright C 2008, 2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul.
Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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