Tag Archives: depression

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

Fish oil may not help to prevent depression afterall

Click here to get more information on Fish Oils at blog.foodfacts.com!
Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Many health articles have reported in recent months that fish oils, primarily omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, help to prevent depression in women. Before you go purchase a lifetime supply of fish oils, know that these research studies are constantly evolving. Though some may claim new dietary benefits one month, chances are those recommendations could change the next. Currently, researchers are still looking into the link between these fatty acids and depression. Also, they are continuing to look into fish oil consumption and diabetes in women. Make sure you conduct your own research or consult with a physician before initiating any supplementation.

Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids doesn’t appear to stave off the blues in women, U.S. researchers have found.

Their study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds to the conflicting evidence on the benefits of fish oil, which some research has hinted might help certain people with depression.

“We know that omega-3s are important in brain function,” study researcher Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told Reuters Health.

“We approached this work thinking that when it comes to preventing depression, it’s conceivable that you are what you eat,” he said.

But the researchers’ findings didn’t bear out that prediction.

The team followed nearly 55,000 nurses over 10 years. All the women, between 50 and 77 years old, were free of depression when the study began in 1996.

Over the next decade, five percent of them eventually developed clinical depression. But the risk was the same regardless of how much DHA and EPA — two omega-3 fatty acids — women got from eating fish.
b12-salmon-lg1
Fish rich in omega-3s include salmon, trout, sardines and herring.

The researchers did find preliminary signs that a plant-based omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid could play a role in mood.

For every increase of half a gram in daily intake of the substance –common in walnuts and canola oil, for instance — there was an 18-percent reduction in the risk of depression.

A study like the current one can’t prove cause-and-effect, and Ascherio said the area needs further research before any recommendations can be made.

His team also examined omega-6 fatty acids, but was unable to come up with conclusive findings on its impact on depression. Omega-6s are found in refined vegetable oils and are ubiquitous in snack foods, sweets and fast foods.

Depression strikes twice as many women as men, with one in five U.S. women experiencing the problem at some point.

Dr. Teodore Postolache, who directs the mood and anxiety program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, told Reuters Health he is not yet ready to give up on fish oil.

“There are inherent limitations on studies about depression, including determining with certainty what exactly depression is for patients,” Postolache said.

Using data from nurses, for example, can skew results because nurses are more educated in matters of health and diet than the general population.

“If groups who may have underlying deficits in fish oil were studied, like lower socioeconomic groups, we might have seen a more powerful effect of the omega-3s in preventing depression,” he said.

He also noted that the study excluded women who had previous episodes of depression, although this group is one of “the most important targets for intervention because they are at high risk for a repeat episode.”

He called for more research on animals and in broader swaths of the population.

(Yahoo Health)

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/kmB4rn American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2011.

Happy Foods That Won’t Make You Gain Weight

happy_eating_weight_loss

Foodfacts.com looks into foods that will boost happy brain chemicals while helping you stay slim. When you’re in a funk, your first instinct isn’t to whip up a bowl of lentil soup or pour yourself a glass of milk. But compounds in these foods may help ward off depression, fight fatigue, and reduce anxiety by increasing levels of mood-boosting brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Traditional comfort foods, like those loaded with sugar, saturated fat, alcohol, and caffeine, on the other hand, can actually amplify edginess—not to mention blow your diet. To perk up without packing on the pounds, pick one of these nine healthy eats next time you’re feeling down.

Popcorn 49105main_popcorn

The mood booster: Tryptophan

We hear tryptophan and we immediately think turkey—and tired. Truth is, when the amino acid is consumed with carbohydrates instead of protein, it’s more effective in aiding the body’s production of serotonin, a tranquility-inducing brain chemical. A study published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia found that foods containing tryptophan, like mustard greens, pumpkin seeds, and bananas, offer mood-elevating effects. Tryptophan levels are often low in people suffering from depression, although researchers are unclear as to whether the relationship is a cause or a consequence of the condition. The next time you feel down, try 3 cups of air-popped popcorn for 100 calories instead of gnawing on a drumstick.

Walnuts

The mood booster: Alpha-linolenic acid

While EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, and fish oil supplements, have been touted to help depression sufferers beat the blues, a new study of 55,000 women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid in plant foods like walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseed, is the real star in alleviating depression symptoms. In the 10-year study, Harvard University researchers found that the risk of depression was lower among women who consumed more ALA, a compound previously thought to have few health benefits.

Cottage Cheese

The mood booster: Tyrosine

Low-fat sources of protein, like egg whites and low-fat cottage cheese, are packed with tyrosine, an amino acid that aids the brain’s production of norepinephrine and dopamine, two chemicals that influence motivation and reaction time. Early studies showed that tyrosine could be used to alleviate symptoms of depression, as it is an essential building block for the mood-regulating brain chemicals norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Enjoy half a cup for only 90 calories and stock up on 14 g of filling protein.

sunflower_seedsSunflower Seeds

The mood booster: Selenium

A Nutritional Neuroscience review of five studies on selenium and depression linked deficiencies in the mineral to poorer mood. Another study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine suggests that selenium can help prevent postpartum depression. When 44 postpartum women received 100 mcg of selenium daily, they scored lower on a postnatal depression scale. While Brazil nuts offer the biggest dose of selenium—a half-ounce serving packs 272 mcg—sunflower seeds are a lower-calorie snack option. A quarter cup of roasted seeds in their shells has about 70 calories and delivers 30% of the daily recommended value of selenium, while a single Brazil nut packs around 30 calories.

Lentils

The mood booster: Folate

Skip the mac and cheese and make a hearty bowl of soup your new favorite comfort food. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that of the 2,682 middle-age Finnish men in the study, those whose diets contained the least folate were 67% more likely to suffer from depression. Research suggests that low levels of the B vitamin impair the metabolism of neurotransmitters, leaving your brain short on serotonin and dopamine. Get your folate fix with a cup of lentils, which contains 230 calories and provides 70% of your daily folate and 63% of your daily fiber.

Avocadoavocado

The mood booster: Oleic acid

Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and avocados, don’t just keep belly fat at bay. They can also ward off a bad mood. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, increases the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, keeping you calm. In a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers at the University of Nivarra in Spain found that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, nuts, fish, and olive oil were 30% less likely to become depressed.

Citrus Fruit

The mood booster: Vitamin C

For only 60 calories a pop, it’s easy to get nearly 100% of your daily recommended vitamin C in one place. Skip your orange and you might end up feeling bitter. In a study conducted by doctors at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and published in the journal Nutrition, researchers found that when vitamin C-deficient hospital patients were supplemented with 500 mg of vitamin C twice daily for 1 week they experienced a 34% reduction in mood disturbance. Even the smell of citrus can put you in a better state of mind. When participants in an Ohio State University study smelled lemons, they reported greater improvements in mood and had higher levels of norepinephrine compared with when they sniffed lavender or unscented water.

Low-Fat Milk

The mood boosters: Vitamin D, calcium, whey protein

While research has linked deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium—two essential nutrients found in milk and fortified juices—to mood disorders, like depression, seasonal affective disorder, and PMS, a lesser-studied compound in dairy products can help you keep your cool in high-stress situations. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that alpha-lactalbumin, a component of whey protein, improves cognitive performance in stress-prone individuals by increasing levels of tryptophan and serotonin in the brain.

banana-2Bananas

The mood booster: Magnesium

This portable treat makes a great 100-calorie snack when you’re craving something sweet. Bananas are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps the brain deal with stress and may help boost mood, too. In a study of 5,700 adults published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, researchers linked higher levels of anxiety and depression to study participants with lower magnesium intake. Bananas are also packed with potassium, which helps boost alertness, tryptophan, an amino acid that aids the body in producing mood-boosting serotonin, and mood-stabilizing vitamin B6.

Information provided by: Fitbie.com

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.

Aspartame Causing Severe Depression?

Aspartame Causing Severe Depression? | Foodfacts.com

Aspartame Causing Severe Depression? | Foodfacts.com

Our Foodfacts.com Blog research on aspartame has revealed additional speculation and claims worth exploring.

The National Institutes of Health characterize aspartame as an artificial sweetener that’s 220 times sweeter than sugar. It’s a combination of phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Both of these ingredients are considered amino acids, which can make them sound somewhat healthy in nature. However, there are links between the consumption of aspartame and depression. Continue reading