By : Komal Thakur (B.Pharm, Diploma in Naturopathy, Specialist in Clinical Dietetics)

Boosted Protein, Boosted Happiness

Times are tough and the times are rough. 2020/ 2021 are unforgettable years for the whole world. Most of us could not imagine the bizarre nightmare that we are going through. Well, you constantly hear that we have to see the positive in everything. The positivity of the time that I see right now is that everyone got the chance to focus on themselves. It was almost like a huge stop sign asking all of us to stop and look inside ourselves. What are we really doing and what are we really feeling? The fast paced life never really gave us a chance to really understand our own feelings. Emotional quotient is what makes us different from all the other living species. Have you heard that joke that says “Drink water and stay calm, you are nothing but a house plant with more complex feelings”? Well if I have to deep dive in this joke, yes we have more complex emotions and yes it’s important to feed the body right to keep a check on these complex emotions as well.


With more and more people accepting the need for mental healthcare and mental well-being, I am sure a part of this is realizing that what we put inside our mouth does play a very important role in regularizing our emotions. Everything is physiological. Feeling is a response that your physical body generates. It’s a whole lot of chemical reactions and the outcome of which you are supposed to feel. The problem is when you stop getting the desired feeling. A happy occasion does not excite you, a really sad occasion makes you feel indifferent, a nerve wrecking moment doesn’t give you any jitters, and you lose interest in everything. What is really happening here is that your body is not producing the desired chemicals to aid the right reaction. Hence the need for therapy. Therapy involves two things- Mental counselling and Medicinal therapy, both of which should be dealt with cautiously by a medical practitioner.


Let’s talk about how nutrition can impact your mental health. Basically there are three macronutrients that are essential for our everyday functioning, Carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Besides these there are tons of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Spoiler Alert! Brain is something that controls your emotions, unless you thought it’s your heart, but it’s really your brain that controls everything you feel. So we need to feed our brains with the brain food necessary. What is the human brain made of: essentially fat. Yes it’s full of fat and also Protein and it uses carbohydrates to generate the necessary energy. It’s certainly more complex than this. There are no studies that have been fully able to figure out the human brain, scientifically. So no Instagram quotes are going to make you feel OK unless you go for therapy.


Fats and carbohydrates are anyways present in abundance in our diet so let us just park them for a while. Yes, they are essential too but am sure you intake enough. Spotlight on protein here. How is protein related to brain functioning? There is a direct and an indirect correlation between the two.


Proteins are rich in amino acids which help in the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are nothing but chemicals that help conveying signals or messages between the neurons. Our whole body is a neuron network and every signal generated by the brain has to travel via this complex neuron network. For example: If you accidentally slam your foot on the table, the pain shoots up in your foot and not your hand. Similarly the right kind of emotion has to travel for the right kind of response. For example, protein can break down into an amino acid known as L-Tyrosine which is used to produce Dopamine. Dopamine is the happy hormone like we all know. Low levels of Dopamine can cause depression, anxiety and the likes. Tyrosine can be found in soy, chicken, eggs, legumes, dairy, etc., all good sources of protein.


Another amino acid Tryptophan can help produce serotonin, another anti-depressant. Eating foods like bananas, cashews and other nuts, dairy and poultry can help you boost the serotonin levels. Eating few cashews (4-5) every day can effectively act as an anti-depressant.


As an indirect help to boost your mental well-being, protein curbs the sugar cravings.  Sugar consumption is not only harmful for your physical but also your mental health. Usually when we are down and low we start craving for high carb fried foods and ice-creams, because they make you feel good. Refined sugar instantly provides your brain a false sense of happiness by giving you a sudden burst of energy. It’s more like easy come and easy go. BDNF i.e. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is a neurotransmitter modulator can be suppressed by sugar in the long run, causing further depression. So protein indirectly helps you kill the sugar craving.


Mental health related problems are complex and there is no single therapy. It’s essential however that you are aware that it can be treated. Amongst this complexity, one thing can be made easier and that is your Protein consumption. A simple protein supplement like GRD can take care of your protein requirement in a jiffy. Both the powder and the biscuits are amazingly flavored, get along with a lot of recipes, and provide you with a boost of not just proteins but all other feel good nutritional elements. Choose the variant of your choice and let it take care of you!


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