Saturday, February 14, 2009

Depression Seminar Session 3

Nutrition: Better Food, Better Mood

This week's session was on the area of Nutrition. This is such a huge area! There are so many things that are affected by our diets and our philosophies of nutrition. For one thing, science is advancing all the time and new findings are constantly being extended. So what was considered good practice 10 years ago is no longer necessarily the best today. And what was considered Old Wives Lore 75 years ago is now the hottest thing out there to treat, prevent and enhance our health. However, what I learned is that if you are just in the dark as to what science is what or whether to believe, for instance, if supplementation is good or bad, what herbs react with which drug, how many mgs. of this or that vitamin provides optimal results and you just can't come out of the whole confusing mess without having a huge headache, just stick to moderation and get as many fruits and vegetables as you can. If you want to venture out a little more from that, it is totally your choice and just know that there are a lot of venture capitalists out there who want to take advantage of all the hype. I, personally, ventured out a little bit after listening to my heart and doing some research of my own and am very glad I did because there is a lot of incredible science out there to back up and enhance what just plain good common sense tells us. You just have to be careful!

Insufficient nutrition is possibly the most overlooked cause of depression. But once nutritional correction starts to take place in the depressed individual, the effects start to manifest within 7 - 10 days. The improvement will steadily continue until 3 - 6 months out and then there will be a peak and then a plateau.

You could have a Nutritional hit for Depression if:
  • You are addicted to junk food
  • You crave sugar
  • You have been on a high-protein, low-carb diet in the last year or so.
  • You are deficient in certain Vitamins and Minerals, namely B12 or Folate.
  • You have insufficient dietary Trpytophan. The brain cannot make seratonin if there is a deficiency of this nutrient.
  • You have a low Omega-3 fatty acid intake.
  • You have marked anorexia or weight loss.
  • You are more than 30 pounds overweight.
There are often no obvious clues for a nutritional hit for depression, so to start with, you would look at identifying the other possible causes for depression and if you still don't have the minimum 4 hits that are used to identify a depressed individual then the nutrition hit is automatically what you would look at. Also, just to be smart, even if you do have 4 additional depression hits, still never neglect nutritional wisdom. You can't go wrong.

Let's look at some good sources for the above mentioned nutrients. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, almonds and tofu. Tryptophan has been shown to be amazingly helpful for anorexic patients who also struggle with depression. Here is one example of what you can do with Tofu:

Strawberry Banana Tofu Smoothie


  • 1⁄2 cup apple juice
  • 1⁄2 cup frozen vanilla nonfat yogurt, peach sorbet, or desired flavor sorbet
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) soft tofu, drained
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sliced strawberries or peaches
  • 1 banana, broken into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1⁄2 cup ice cubes

Fresh whole berries for garnish (optional)

  1. Place the apple juice, sorbet, tofu, strawberries or peaches, banana and honey in a blender. Cover and process until well blended.
  2. With blender still running, drop ice cubes, one at a time, through the hole in the lid until smooth.
  3. Pour into tall glasses; garnish with a few fresh berries, if desired. Makes 2 -3 servings
Omega-3 fatty acid intake is so important and so many people are low in this area. Most of the oils we consume are Omega-6 and these two oils need to be in a balanced ratio. Omega-3 works so well at treating Bi-polar patients that it is classified as a very effective treatment for this illness and is actually classified as a drug. Sources of Omg-3 are cold water ocean fish (now a high source of mercury as well), flaxseed,walnuts and canned spinach. Here is a great recipe for a flaxseed sprinkle. Put this on cereal, toast or anything else you can sneak it into. The taste is pleasantly minimal to non-existent:

1/4 c. ground walnuts
1/4 c. ground flaxseed (get the whole flaxseed and grind yourself for optimal nutrition)
1 Tbsp. dates or brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator

B-12 is a vitamin and folate is a mineral. They are both essential and often low in depressed people. Some good sources of folate are 5.5 oz. of steak, navy beans, okra, raw spinach, lentils, fresh orange juice and black-eyed peas. Another thing to be aware of is that people who are folate-deprived do not respond to medication. Vitamin B-12 is mainly derived from animal sources. Some good sources of B-12 are calf's liver (yum!), Snapper, venison, chinook salmon, beef tenderloin, scallops, shrimp, halibut, and some yogurts. Depression is a symptom of someone who is low in Vitamin B-12.

A huge issue in today's fast food and convenience store shopping has been the development of atherosclorosis in middle aged people, which is not only responsible for coronary disease but a contributor to depression. The greek meaning -- athero (mushy) sclorosis (hard). Basically by eating things that are mushy, you end up with hardening. Mushy means something very specific. We were referred to the findings of a Dr. Bruce Taylor from New York, who fed monkeys and rabbits oxidized cholesterol. They were found with arteries that were hardening within a very short time. He did the same thing with pure cholesterol and the difference was amazing. This time nothing happened, no bad effect. Now, in the news, we are not seeing this atherosclorosis in just middle-aged people. We are seeing very young children with this build-up of plaque in the arteries. The culprit is oxidized lard. The most harmful of these foods are the custard groups (including ice cream), pancake mixes and parmesan cheese (pizza!) Beware of foods that are too convenient. It will conveniently rob you of your good health as well.

We also talked little bit about the Toxic Hit for Depression. Basically, keep away from the toxic stuff like lead (found in dirt--don't eat too much dirt, some drinking water with lead pipes, some old paint, etc.), mercury (some herbs and vitamins from China, even some cosmetics, etc.), bisma (don't gorge on Pepto Bismal) and harmful household cleaners that have ammonia, bleach and nerve agents in them. If you would like info on chemical free cleaning and personal care products, I can get you information on that as well.

This was a great session and it gave us all pause for thought about how we might better improve the nutritional area in our lives. Just a few little things could make all the difference! There will not be another session until Monday, February 23rd. So the next Depression Seminar post will probably be after that--like the 28th. But hey, that gives us time to implement what we have learned thus far! Take care!


scrilla said...

Hey there, what great detail you're putting together on this. I think these posts are great. On another note, Harrison and Carter have been sick the last two weeks, so I've been a little out of touch with everyone. Let's get together soon.

helena said...

OK! Laura, I've been wondering about you. I will find you! You can run but you can't hide!