Tag Archive | Tryptophan

Gungo peas

Leicester is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the UK and food shopping is an obvious example which illustrates our multi-cultural living. I particularly like going to the shops in certain parts of the city where you can buy food imported from around the world.

Sunday is a good day for mooching around and yesterday afternoon we made a quick detour to a Continental shop for some bits and pieces. Whilst hubby was searching for particular items, I was rustling around just looking at the various dried beans, peas and pulses which are a staple part of the Middle Eastern diet when I came across a packet of Gungo peas.

What a fabulous name, Gungo peas and, as I haven’t a clue what to do with said Gungo (or pigeon) peas, I left them on the shelf not wanting to buy something just because I like the name. I am now wishing that I had put a packet in my basket as not only were they cheap (99p for 500g) but having done some research I find out that they are nutritionally full of protein, fibre, low in fat and most importantly they are an excellent source of tryptophan.

For anyone suffering with low mood or depression, foods containing tryptophan are well worth getting to know as “tryptophan is the direct precursor, or starting material, of serotonin. Your tryptophan intake affects the amount of active serotonin your brain makes. Serotonin levels affect your mood, your ability to sleep well, and your food cravings.

Tryptophan is prescribed as an antidepressant, and is apparently particularly effective in relieving certain types of depression (bi-polar and menopausal). Turkey and milk are good sources of tryptophan as are eggs, dairy products, some nuts and seeds. 

As with many suggestions for foods that apparently help with low mood and depression, I suspect that it is more complicated that just eating platefuls of Gungo peas but with a little effort and a few dietary adjustments, food can undoubtedly help improve and maintain mental wellbeing just as it helps physical health.

There are several recipes for using Gungo peas available, so next time I am shopping and come across Gungo peas I will buy some and ask hubby to prepare a dish or two to see what they are like.

Watch this space…..


Doing things differently (3) Foods that may help you sleep

I have struggled with insomnia for many years now and, having a demanding full time job, I need my sleep. 4 hours is just not enough. I am prescribed Amitryptyline which works for me and I only have to take a small dose to guarantee 7-8 hours of quality rest. But rather than resort to medication, there are some simple things you can consider which may help. Your diet is one of them. Tryptophan [an amino acid that has a sedative – like effect] and magnesium seem to be common to most of the following foods which are recommended for insomniacs.

Almonds: They contain tryptophan and magnesium which is a muscle relaxant.

Chamomile tea:  apparently helps promote sleep. Ordinary or green tea is also fine as long as it is de-caffeinated.

Bananas: An excellent source of magnesium and potassium. They also contain tryptophan.

Yoghurt, milk and cheese also contain tryptophan. Calcium also works to help relieve stress.

Oatmeal-porridge oats or museli : A warm bowl of oat-based cereal is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and potassium, all important nutrients that support sleep. Avoid adding sugar as this may counteract the sleepy benefits.

Potatoes-Eating a small baked potato or mashed or roasted potatoes will clear your body of acids that can block the effects of tryptophan.

Cherries-are one of the only food sources of melatonin, an antioxidant that helps the body sleep and is found in fresh, dried, or frozen cherries . Try eating a bowl of cherries one hour before bed.

Foods to avoid: Coffee and tea (caffeinated), alcohol and heavy or spicy foods.

You may also like:

Melatonin, jet-lag and sleep disturbances

Magnesium deficiency