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You Are What You Eat - Nutrition, Depression, and Bipolar

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A 2003 issue of Time International reports on 41-year-old Amanda Jodhpuria, who had bad luck with lithium, and sought out a nutritionist who diagnosed a B vitamins and fatty acids deficiency, which prompted her to change her diet - no coffee, sugar, or salt, and more fish. She told Time: "My mood has levelled out, and the depressions are much shorter." The same article reports a survey from the British mental health group, Mind, which found that 80 percent of those who followed a diet low in sugar, caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol and high in water, vegetables, fruit, and oil-rich fish reported improved moods, with 26 percent citing major improvements.

Scientists are coming up with new findings all the time now. For starters, there are clear connections between mood and foods rich in folates (green leafy vegetables). A 1997 Harvard study supports earlier findings that show: 1) a link can be made between folate deficiency and depressive symptoms, and 2) that low folate levels can interfere with the antidepressant activity of the SSRIs. A Tufts University study of nearly 2,948 individuals found that those who met the criteria for a lifetime diagnosis of major depression had lower serum and red blood folate concentrations than those who had never been depressed. Those with dysthymia had lower red blood cell folate only. The authors of the study recommend folate supplementation during the year following a depressive episode.

An eight-week Harvard study of 322 outpatients with major depression on 20 mg/day of Prozac found that those with high cholesterol levels were "significantly more likely" not to respond to the drug than patients with low cholesterol.

Toxic Foods for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Some people can't eat wheat, others are sensitive to the artificial sweetener aspartame, either of which can alter mood. The list goes on and on and on. Patients can take food allergy tests, though they are expensive and their reliability has been called into question. A more labored but failsafe means is to eliminate a suspect food from one's diet to see what happens. These would include: dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, citrus, caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, honey, maple or barley syrup, tap water, or any food one eats more than three times a week. One is advised to read labels carefully, as hidden allergens are frequently found in packaged foods.

An article by John Stegmaier on the New Hope Foundation website reports of Illinois psychiatrist Thomas Stone MD who is committed to seeking out any food sensitivities that may be causing or contributing to an individual's mental problems. New patients are put on a strict spring water fast for several days, then tested one food at a time for psychological reactions while being monitored for pulse and other functions. John's 23-year-old daughter, who had endured nine years of failed treatments, erupted into a psychotic episode after eating a test course of brussels sprouts. The article fails to report his daughter's outcome, which was presumably for the better, but does mention he and his wife got the cold shoulder from the honchos at NIMH when they tried to pass on the good news.

Sugar and Carbs

Meanwhile, the average American eats more than 125 pounds of white sugar a year, comprising 25 percent of our daily calorie intake.

According to Diana Lipson-Burge, a nutrition consultant and co-author of "Un-Dieting", speaking at the 2003 DBSA conference, carbs release serotonin to the brain, which is why we crave the stuff. But we're not addicted to carbs, as we would just be eating sugar. You're addicted to the serotonin, she stressed. Carbs are the first thing your body turns to for energy. Simple carbs include sugar and white flour while complex carbs include fruit and vegetables. To avoid sugar crashes, says Ms Lipson-Burge, one needs to buffer carbs with proteins and fat, say 40-50 percent carbs to 20 percent protein and 20 to 30 percent fat. Think bagel with eggs or egg beaters.

In the 1990s, food experts came up with the glycemic index to show how some foods raised blood sugar higher than others, but which failed the stupid test by not accounting for the total carbohydrates in a particular food. Thus carrots equated to sugar and potatoes to hard candy. A team from Harvard University then developed the glycemic load, derived by multiplying a food's glycemic index by grams of carbs in a serving of food. Using glycemic load as an index, carrots are restored to good standing, and potatoes conditionally so.

The glycemic load affirms what most of us already knew: Opt for brown rice over white rice, enriched pastas over plain ones, peasant breads over white and whole wheat (commercial whole wheat and dark breads are basically white bread with coloring), fresh fruit over commercial fruit juice (which is basically sugar water), oatmeal over corn flakes, whole grains over processed grains, plenty of beans and vegetables.

Restoring the Messed-Up Food Chain

A 2003 review article in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health by biologist Able Bult-Ito and associates of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks offers an excellent case study on what happens when various populations change from their traditional means of procuring and consuming food to steak and Crisco and a lot of junk.

Though the traditional diets of circumpolar people vary from region to region, the menu generally draws from marine mammals, fish, hoofed animals, fur-bearing animals, birds and their eggs, plants, and berries. These foods are rich in nutrients, with high levels of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, while low in carbohydrates. Until contact with westerners, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease were virtually unknown to the frozen north. That changed with the introduction of a western diet, which is high in carbs and saturated fats and low in essential nutrients such as omega-3. Bad physical and dental health followed like six-month night after six-month day. Mental health also headed south as a result, contend the authors of the article.

Omega-3 is crucial to neuronal and brain development, function, and health, and is available from fish, grass-fed mammals, and certain plants. Lower levels of fish consumption and omega-3 have been linked to increased rates of depression and possibly suicide. Deficiencies in omega-3 can affect serotonin and dopamine transmission in the frontal cortex and hippocampus.

Source:- McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web

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