Category Archives: depression

New evidence linking diet and depression

Our mission here at FoodFacts.com has always been to educate consumers about the foods we eat and how dietary choices affect our daily lives. One of the issues we’ve posted about in the past has been how junk foods and fast foods can affect those with severe, chronic depression. Food choices count for those who are depressed and proper nutrition is especially important for our mental health. Today we found new information that expands on those concepts, re-emphasizing the importance of our healthy eating habits.

It appears that a healthy diet may reduce the risk of severe depression, according to a prospective follow-up study of more than 2,000 men conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition, weight loss in the context of a lifestyle intervention was associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms.

“The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention,” says Ms Anu Ruusunen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of nutritional epidemiology.
Depressed individuals often have a poor quality of diet and decreased intake of nutrients. However, it has been unclear whether the diet and the intake of foods and nutrients are associated with the risk of depression in healthy individuals.

A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms and a lower risk of depression during the follow-up period.

Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate. In addition, increased coffee consumption was non-linearly associated with a decreased risk of depression.

In addition, participation in a three-year lifestyle intervention study improved depression scores with no specific group effect. Furthermore, a reduction in the body weight was associated with a greater reduction in depressive symptoms.

Adherence to an unhealthy diet characterized by a high consumption of sausages, processed meats, sugar-containing desserts and snacks, sugary drinks, manufactured foods, French rolls and baked or processed potatoes was associated with an increased prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms.

The study was based on the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. The participants, over 2,000 middle-aged or older Finnish men were followed-up for an average of 13-20 years. Their diet was measured by food records and food frequency questionnaires, and information on cases of depression was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register. The effects of the three-year lifestyle intervention on depressive symptoms were investigated in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) with 140 middle-aged men and women randomized to intervention and control groups.

Depression is one of the leading health challenges in the world and its effects on public health, economics and quality of life are enormous. Not only treatment of depression, but also prevention of depression needs new approaches. Diet and other lifestyle factors may be one possibility.

FoodFacts.com understands that depression can be an enormously painful and chronic condition. It can often be treated with debilitating medications that may or may not be effective. Those medications can cause their own set of side effects that vary among individuals. Mental health problems are a rough road. Dietary and lifestyle interventions both for treatment and prevention of depression might help to smooth an otherwise rocky path for millions worldwide.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916103530.htm

A glass of wine a day may help keep depression away

FoodFacts.com has reported in the past on the links between moderate red wine consumption and a variety of health benefits. We’ve seen how red wine may help lower our risks for cardiovascular problems. In addition, moderate consumption may help lower cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels. But now, new research suggests that wine may also help reduce the risk for depression. This is according to a study published in the journal of BMC Medicine.

Researchers from Spain analyzed 2,683 men and 2,822 women over a 7-year period from the PREDIMED Trial – a study that conducts research around nutrition and cardiovascular risk.

All participants were between 55 and 80 years of age, with no history of depression or alcohol-related problems when the study began.

They were required to complete a validated 137-item food frequency questionnaire annually in order to assess their alcohol intake, and their mental health and lifestyle was analyzed throughout the study period.

The findings of the study revealed that those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol (5 to 15 g a day) were less likely to suffer from depression. Additionally, those who drank a moderate amount of wine on a weekly basis (two to seven small glasses a week), were found to have an even lower risk of depression. The researchers say these results remained the same even when accounting for lifestyle and social factors, such as marital status, smoking and diet.

However, further findings suggest that wine consumption exceeding seven glasses a week could increase the risk of depression. The study authors add that greater alcohol consumption was more frequently attributed to males, with 88% drinking more than 15 g of alcohol each day.

Previous research from the PREDIMED trial has suggested that low-moderate amounts of alcohol could protect against heart disease, and the study authors say the process may be linked: Unipolar depression and cardiovascular disease are likely to share some common pathophysiological mechanisms. Moderate alcohol intake, especially alcohol from wine, has been repeatedly reported to be inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Some of the responsible mechanisms for this inverse association are likely to be involved also in a reduced risk of depression.

Once again, FoodFacts.com is reminded that wine is an art, developed to be enjoyed in moderation – whose gift is a wide array of health benefits. While this new information certainly sets defined parameters for consumption, it also allows us to add another valuable item to the list of health benefits we can derive from the moderate and considered enjoyment of wine!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265401.php

Possible relationship between diet and depression

Everyone in our community knows that FoodFacts.com is always on the lookout for information that suggests how our dietary habits can improve not only our general health, but diseases and chronic health problems as well. So we wanted to be sure to share this information with you.

Researchers published an opinion article in BioMedCentral’s journal BMC Medicine this week. The authors of the article have reviewed existing evidence for the links between diet and depression. They claim that depression is very similar to heart disease. Both conditions are associated with low levels of inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (the endothelium is the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels) and lipid profiles (tests that assess coronary risk factors). They believe that these specifics may suggest that the underlying causes for both conditions can, in fact, be the same. Food ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils which are trans fats are related to heart disease and may be related to depression as well.

In the past, FoodFacts.com has brought your attention to studies that link the consumption of fast food to the risk of depression. Most of these studies do not show a definitive cause and effect relationship. There’s always been a conundrum … is food choice the reason for depression, or do people suffering from depression make bad food choices, seeing unhealthy food items as a source of comfort? In the previous studies, other possible influences on depression are often taken into account as well, including things like existing medical conditions, alcohol usage, tobacco usage, exercise habits and heredity.

These researchers are addressing the need for longer-term studies that are conducted in the same manner as those that have been implemented for the effects of diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies conducted in this manner will help the medical community ascertain the real connection between diet and depression.

FoodFacts.com has always been a strong advocate of staying away from junk food altogether and purchasing any prepared food as carefully as possible by reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists. As we await further study into the correlation between diet and depression, we encourage our community to be as vigilant as ever about making the healthiest food choices for yourself and your family.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130102205517.htm

Rethinking the link between obesity and depression …

FoodFacts.com read with interest today some new research findings linking a gene that’s considered a genetic component for the risk of obesity to a reduced risk of depression. We remember hearing terms like “fat but happy,” “jolly and fat,” and other terms used years ago that wouldn’t be considered very politically correct these days. And in the last few years, we’ve followed research that linked obesity to depression. This new study, however, might reinforce those older clichés regarding obesity.

Coming out of McMaster University, this study associates the same gene that can put a person at risk for obesity with a reduction in the risk of depression. According to these findings the obesity gene is also a gene that supports happiness.

The most interesting component of this research is that it was actually begun on the premise that obesity and depression stem from brain activity and the researchers were looking for a genetic link between the two conditions. There has been a common scientific assumption regarding this link. Specifically, it has been believed that obese people can suffer from depression due to their appearance which can lead to social discrimination. Alternatively, depressed people tend to lead less active lifestyles which can cause them to change their eating habits and cause them to become obese.

This new study investigated the genetic and psychiatric condition of patients involved in the EpiDREAM study which was led by the Population Health Research Institute. It analyzed 17,200 DNA samples from participants in 21 different countries. They discovered that the existence of the predisposing variant in the obesity gene was associated with an 8% rediction in the risk of depression among participants. This was then confirmed against results from three other international studies. Those studies are supporting these latest findings. Overall, there is a definite indication that the obesity gene can provide some protection from depression.

FoodFacts.com is looking forward to future studies that explore the link between the obesity gene and a decreased risk of depression. It will be fascinating to find out how this new genetic knowledge can be used in the treatment or prevention of depression in our population. This could hold a lot of hope for so many people. We look forward to keeping you informed!

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084725.htm

7 a day is better than 5 to keep you healthy AND happy!

FoodFacts.com has reviewed research in the past that linked the consumption of junk food to a decline in the human ability to be optimistic and happy. It has been suggested that poor eating habits can actually add to depression and depressed moods. Today, however, we came across new research that links and increase in positive mental health and happiness to eating vegetables and fruits. We love the idea that our boosting our mental well being could be as simple as increasing our consumption of the foods that we already know are healthiest for our physical well being!

The University of Warwick in Great Britain conducted a study focusing on the diets of 80,000 people. They discovered that mental well being increased along with the number of servings of fruits and vegetables people consumed on a daily basis. Mental well being rose the most among those consuming seven servings each day.

While the current recommendations are to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day because we understand that this level of consumption protects our cardiovascular health and reduces our cancer risk, we’ve never looked at the effect of those servings – or an increase in those servings for our mental well-being.

The study focused on British citizens. It appears that currently 25% of the English population is eating one serving or no servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Only 10% are consuming seven or more. While the research doesn’t tell us that there are specific fruits and vegetables that are aiding in the mental health boost from those seven servings, they have, in fact, set a serving size that matters. One serving equals one cup. So, for instance one medium apple is one serving of fruit and two medium carrots will qualify as one serving of vegetables.

The authors of the study were somewhat surprised by their findings, mainly because mental health and well-being have not been related to diet in the past. For the most part treatment for mental health related difficulties has always been addressed medically, not nutritionally.

While we understand that nine servings per day can sound fairly daunting for many people, we know that there are some things you can do that can help increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Here are a few ideas from your friends at FoodFacts.com.

Fruit Salad for Dessert
If your family only indulges in desserts on the weekends, you might want to reconsider that schedule. On weeknights, prepare a fresh fruit salad and not only will you be treating your family to dessert, you’ll also be getting an extra serving of fruit into their diets.

Breakfast
Especially with the colder weather coming, hot cereal brings the opportunity to get more fruit into your diet. We know that prepared flavored oatmeal isn’t always made with the best ingredients. But if you add apple slices and cinnamon to a bowl of homemade oatmeal, it will be tastier than the box products and provide extra fruit for the day.

Extra Dinner Veggies
We’ve always liked the idea of getting some vegetables into an entree that may or may not be noticeable. For instance, sliced zucchini works well in lasagna and chopped spinach can easily be mixed inside a burger. A few others might include broccoli in a side of macaroni and cheese, or cabbage in mashed potatoes. You would, of course, be serving a vegetable alongside that entree, effectively adding to vegetable consumption.

Side Salads
So you have your protein, your vegetable and (perhaps) your starch picked out for your evening meal. Serve a salad with it. Salads can be prepared in interesting manners with fruit and vegetable additions that are very appealing and add new textures and flavors AND extra fruits and vegetables to your dinner!

FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this new research (and to try some of our ideas as well):
http://scienceblog.com/57078/fruits-and-veggies-7-a-day-for-happiness-and-mental-health/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogrssfeed+%28ScienceBlog.com%29#S5q6kFDK0R80JVOc.99

Welcoming the new season with a smile

As we at FoodFacts.com gear up for the holiday season, we know that the colder weather is upon us, along with shorter daylight hours and longer evenings. We also know that as the winter approaches, many people start feeling a little “under the weather” and can experience depression. While depression can be hereditary, seasonal, or brought on by life events, it’s not something we just need to live with and through.

More and more research is showing that there is, in fact, nutritional support for dealing with depression. In fact, in a recent British study, the study group population focused more on consuming fresh, whole foods reported significantly fewer instances of depression than those consuming processed foods.

In addition, there are foods whose properties lend themselves to supporting your good mood. Let’s take a look at some of the foods that can help you feel more energetic, and less melancholy as we get closer to winter — or any other time of the year.

Salmon, tuna, trout, halibut or other cold-water fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are gaining notoriety in studies that show evidence that people who eat food with a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids are less likely to get depressed. There are plant-based sources of Omega3s as well, including walnuts, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Oatmeal, soy milk and two scrambled eggs. Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin. This is the brain’s “feel-good” hormone. Eat these foods and you’ll be getting a healthy dose of tryptophan to help your cells increase serotonin production. Many antidepressants are designed to prolong the activity of serotonin in our cells, but you can actually increase the levels by eating carbohydrates (except those found in fruits).

Spinach
Low levels of the B vitamin folate, found in spinach, peas, navy beans, orange juice, wheat germ or avocado, may play a role in depression in some patients. Folate deficiencies are not uncommon as different medical conditions and medications like aspirin and birth control pills can lead to deficiencies. Research conducted at Harvard University found that depression in folate deficient individuals does not respond well to antidepressants. Increasing the intake of folic acid in food and in supplement form helped to improve the response.

Broccoli
Broccoli helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Our moods are affected by these levels, and that can affect depression. In addition it’s another vegetable high in folate.

If we work to incorporate these nutritionally positive foods into our diet this winter, we may experience benefits we never associated with food before. And we can help to support our mood til we return to the springtime sun.

Unhappy Meal … Bad food isn’t just harmful to your body, it may be harmful to your mind too!

9227396-portrait-of-sad-woman-with-burger-over-white-background1Foodfacts.com wants to pass this information along to our community, as we feel it can really help influence your eating habits and your life.  A Spanish study published in the U.S. in early 2011 confirms that consumption of foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression.  There had been previous studies linking fast food and junk foods to the disease and this most recent study confirms them.

Importantly, researchers also showed that products like olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.

The study followed and analyzed the diet and lifestyle of over 12,000 volunteers for over six years.  At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with depression.  By the end of the study, 657 of the volunteers were new sufferers.  Those volunteers with an elevated consumption of trans-fats which are defined as fats present in artificial form in industrially-produced foods and pastries) presented up to a 48 percent increase in the risk of depression in comparison to those volunteers who did not consume these fats.  It was noted that the more trans-fats were consumed, the greater the harmful effect was produced in volunteers.

Simultaneously it was found that the impact of polyunsaturated fats which are composed of larger amounts of fish and vegetable oils, as well as olive oil, was associated with a lower risk of suffering depression.

It was noted that the test group for the study was composed of a European population that enjoys a relatively low intake of trans-fats, making up only about .4% of the total caloric intake of the volunteers studied.  Regardless of the normally low levels of trans-fat consumption of the test group, there was an increase in the risk of depression of almost 50%.   It was noted that the U.S. population derives about 2.5% of its caloric intake from these trans-fats.

Depression rates have been rising worldwide in recent years.  This important study points to the possibility that that rise may be attributable to the changes in fat sources of Western diets.   Gradually we have been substituting beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats derived from nuts, vegetables and fish for the saturated and trans-fats found in meats, butters and other mass-produced food products like fast food.

FoodFacts will continue to follow this and other similar stories and keep you updated

Man Made Meat: Coming Soon!!!!

ground-meat
Foodfacts.com is teaming up with our friends over at Dietsinreview.com to look into the future of meats! In less than one year from now we could be reading the food review of the world’s first in vitro hamburger. Yes, you read that right. (Check out our blog on Meat Glue)
As an answer to our globe’s growing population and increasing meat consumption, scientists in the Netherlands are very close to debuting their meat grown from stem cells of healthy cows. The scientists have been working to grow muscle tissue from a small number of stem cells they’ve extracted from the cattle.
As awkward as this process sounds, the researchers believe it’s going to be beneficial for the world. As the trends lead us to believe that the world’s meat consumption is expected to double by the year 2050, this man-made meat will be able to be produced without the need for livestock.
The meat is expected to be more affordable and lead to the sustainability our growing population needs. In vitro meat production could lead to a 35 to 60 percent reduction in energy consumption. Land requirements for farming would decrease by 89 percent and the production of greenhouse gas would decrease due to non-conventional farming.
This product does not stand alone in its unique nature. In 2009, strips of pork were grown using a similar stem cell method and fish fillets have been grown in a lab from the muscle tissue of goldfish.dietsinreview
What a brave new world we live in. “It’s too difficult to farm these days, you say? Well, let’s just grow a burger in the lab!” These practices are still in the very early stages and it’s unclear when or if these products will be available to the public.
As the information is still limited regarding this meat production, I, for one, am curious what the taste test will reveal. I am also curious who else is making today the day they become a full fledged (slightly grossed out) vegetarian?

Article Provided by: Lacy Jaye Hansen

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

no_msg
Many people recognise monosodium glutamate (MSG) as the additive used, for example, in some Chinese and Japanese food, but few know what it is, let alone what its effects on the body are. Now a new report focuses on how monosodium glutamate may be just one of the causes of the Slow Poisoning of America.

In fact, MSG (which is often disguised by names like “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” or “HVP”, “yeast extract” or “autolyzed proteins”) is, like aspartame, a member of the group of chemicals known as “excitotoxins” (the clue is in the name!). These toxic compounds are known to interfere with brain chemistry and have been implicated in many neurological diseases, such as brain cancers, MS, fibromyalgia, depression and hyperactivity (ADHD). In fact, they overexcite brain cells to the point of cell damage and even cell death.

MSG has also been linked to obesity and, indeed, many products that contain MSG now also contain horrific chemicals like “high fructose corn syrup” (whose purpose is to make you chemically addicted to the food in the same way as sugar).

Monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of the amino acid glutamate, and is a commonly used flavor enhancer, regarded by the FDA as “generally safe”, meaning that food manufacturers can use as much of it as they like. It has been around for many years, and is found not only in take away meals from Chinese restaurants, but many other food sources, in which it is listed as either “monosodium glutamate”, “MSG” or “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”.

In a recent book on the subject, Dr Russell Blaylock reported that MSG also causes severe disturbances in the endocrine system, affecting levels of hormones such as LH (Leutenising hormone), GH (growth hormone) and prolactin. (Excitotoxins by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 263)

Another recent work stated that “The stress-induced abnormalities in blood-brain barrier permeability suggest differing MSG effects dependent on existing states of relaxation or stresses. The suggestive evidence for MSG-induced neuroendocrine effects is substantial, coupled with the observation of increased obesity in children.” ( In Bad Taste by George R Schwartz MD, page 39)

In short, MSG is a leading cause of obesity and may well be implicated in many other conditions. It should be avoided at all costs, just like its chemical relatives.