Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Tag: depression

Oily Fish and Depression

If you suffer from low mood it is worth checking that you are getting enough fish in your diet.

Oily Fish and Depression…

A team of scientists from the Medical College of Qingdao University in China recently published a study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health that shows a link between depression and fish in the diet.

The research was very comprehensive: it analysed data from over 150,000 people from 26 studies that were carried out between 2001 – 2014. Of the 26 studies, 12 showed a direct correlation between frequent fish consumption and depression with those who ate the most fish having as much as 17% reduced risk of depression.

Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines, are a great source of omega-3s that are vital for brain health.

B Vitamins may tackle depression

Research has also been published in the medical journal Maturitas. The results of the research showed that many sufferers of depression had a Vitamin B deficiency. They also found links between the B vitamins, the immune system and depression. It is thought that low levels of the B vitamins lead to a weaker immune system which could be a contributing factor to depression. A Vitamin B complex could therefore be something worth bearing in mind for anyone with any feelings of depression.


Why Tasty Foods Like French Fries Leave You Wanting More

Junk Food Shrinks your Brain

Junk food shrinks your brain – yes, really…

Eating junk food can diminish the size of the part of your brain that is linked to learning, memory and mental health.

The study which was published in BMC Medicine look at 255 people and used MRI scans to measure the size of the hippocampus region of the brain, alongside their regular diets. The researchers found that those who ate a healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fish had a larger hippocampus than those who ate more sugar, salt and processed meat in their diets.

The findings are relevant to  mental health, depression and Alzheimer’s, which are a growing concern for the ageing population.

If you are reliant on processed foods and junk food take heed. Try and clean up your diet to include more fresh produce and keep sugar, salt and saturated fat to a minimum.

Are You Addicted to Sugar?

sugar addictionThe American Psychiatric Association has a manual entitled the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and it suggests that the following list indicates the type of behaviours that could indicate an addiction.

Run through this list and look at your behaviour over the last year, when it comes to eating sugar and sugary foods.

• Tolerance.

• Withdrawal.

• The substance is often taken in larger amounts than intended.

• A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down substance use.

• A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance.

• Important activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.

• Substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.

21 day sugar detox

Comfort food

Diet Tip: The Unexpected Effect of Comfort Food and Bad Moods

81% of people believe comfort foods improve a low mood, but are they correct? The truth about comfort food and bad moods.

Contrary to what most people believe, comfort food does not improve a low mood, a new study finds.

The research, published in the journal Health Psychology, found that people who ate nothing recovered from a bad mood just as quickly as those who ate their preferred comfort food (Wagner et al., 2014).

The results come from a study in which people were asked to list the type of foods they ate to recover from a bad mood — chocolate was the most popular. They then watched an 18-minute video that was guaranteed to make them anxious, afraid and depressed.

Comfort Food and Bad Moods

After watching the depressing video, (across three different studies) people were given either:

  1. Their preferred comfort food.
  2. A neutral food (a granola bar).
  3. No food.

Then their mood was measured. Here is how the researchers describe their results, which were pretty clear-cut:

“Comfort foods led to significant improvements in mood, but no more than other foods or no food.

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Although people believe that comfort foods provide them with mood benefits, comfort foods do not provide comfort beyond that of other foods (or no food).”

The fact that all groups felt better after a time is likely due to the psychological immune system, our natural ability to recover from bad moods.

So, people were giving the credit to the comfort food for something their minds were doing automatically.

The researchers conclude:

“We found no justification for people to choose comfort foods when they are distressed.

Removing an excuse for eating a high-calorie or high-fat food may help people develop and maintain healthier eating habits, and may lead them to focus on other, food-free methods of improving their mood.

You don’t need comfort food to feel better; the mind will do the trick all on its own if you give it time.”


Diet and Nutrition Essential for Mental Health

Rapidly growing evidence shows vital relationships between both diet quality and potential nutritional deficiencies and mental health.

Published in The Lancet Psychiatry, leading academics state that as with a range of medical conditions, psychiatry and public health should now recognise and embrace diet and nutrition as key determinants of mental health.

Lead author, Dr Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne and a member of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR), said psychiatry is at a critical stage, with the current medically-focused model having achieved only modest benefits in addressing the global burden of poor mental health.

Diet and Nutrition Essential for Mental Health

“While the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that nutrition is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology,” Dr Sarris said.

“In the last few years, significant links have been established between nutritional quality and mental health. Scientifically rigorous studies have made important contributions to our understanding of the role of nutrition in mental health,” he said.

Findings of the review revealed that in addition to dietary improvement, evidence now supports the contention that nutrient-based prescription has the potential to assist in the management of mental disorders at the individual and population level.

Studies show that many of these nutrients have a clear link to brain health, including omega-3s, B vitamins (particularly folate and B12), choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), vitamin D, and amino acids.

Allergies and Food Intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances

The word allergy is derived from Greek with ‘allos’ meaning different and ‘ergos’ meaning action, so when something foreign enters your body it has to take action by responding to that alien substance. 

The earliest definition of ‘allergy’ was an ‘inappropriate response by the body to a perfectly harmless substance’. But nowadays it is defined as a specific response by the immune system to a substance (inhaled, touched or eaten) that it mistakenly identifies as harmful.

Well known examples would be very severe reactions to peanuts or shellfish where the response is immediate, doesn’t depend on how much of the food has been eaten and symptoms can include difficulty breathing, rashes, swelling, runny nose and possible anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

These partially digested foods produce opioid chemicals that increase your appetite and decrease your metabolism. The more you eat the worse it gets and these foods can make you feel ‘high’ and can produce cravings.

How can you check if you have a food allergy or an intolerance?

There is another type of reaction to food, called food intolerances. With these reactions there can be a delay in the onset of the symptoms (from four to 72 hours), and the foods are often eaten in larger amounts and more frequently.

Symptoms can be varied, from bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and flatulence to lethargy, arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, eczema, joint and muscle pains, recurrent infections, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, water retention, headaches, migraines and just generally feeling unwell.

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Fish Roe is Best Source of Omega-3

Fish roe best source of omega-3

Fish roe best source of omega-3

Did you know? A tablespoon of caviar has as much omega-3 fat as a 1,000 mg of fish oil?

But before you go rushing out and spending all your hard earned cash on this pricy delicacy, it is worth remembering the cheaper lump fish versions work just as well.

The roe from hake, lumpfish and salmon contains the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids according to research published in the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology.

The study found minimal consumption of lumpfish, hake or salmon roe provides the body’s daily requirements for omega-3 due to their high levels of EPA and HDA.

A lack of omega-3 has been linked to cardiovascular disease, depression, hypertension, diabetes and inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s.

Lumpfish is a great topping for  salads, sandwiches or a baked potato.

Magnesium deficiency

magnesium deficiency

Nuts contain good levels of magnesium

ACCORDING to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey eleven percent of women and 16 percent of men are magnesium deficient. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle weakness, cramps, depression and fatigue. 

Magnesium is very important as it keeps your heart rhythm steady, is vital for healthy bones and teeth, muscle function, the nervous system and the production of ATP. It also has a profound impact on our psychological health.

The figures were even worse for young people, particularly young women, with 51 per cent of girls aged between 11 and 18 thought to have an inadequate intake, compared with 28 per cent of boys.

Our modern eating habits, with their excess salt, coffee and alcohol can also lower our magnesium levels, according to a review of international research by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, as they encourage urination which in turn washes away the mineral. Consumption of low magnesium foods such as commercially prepared baked goods also contribute to deficiencies.

Make sure you include magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish and beans. If you are taking magnesium supplements it is important to take it in an absorbable form and to make sure you are also getting the correct ratio of calcium.

Walnuts: omega 3 and heart disease


Walnuts contain good levels of omega 3

YES, I’m going nuts again …! This time it’s walnuts and they’re getting more good press. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that eating whole walnuts and using walnut oil as a salad dressing reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Senior author Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State, stated that although we already know that eating walnuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower blood cholesterol levels, we didn’t know which component of the walnut was providing this benefit. The research pointed to the alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-tocopherol and phytosterols in walnuts.

Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. Gamma-tocopherol is a major form of vitamin E found in many plant seeds, and phytosterols are compounds found in plants that can lower cholesterol levels.

Walnuts, depression and omega 3

Walnuts contain more omega 3 than any other nut. Apart from lowering triglyceride levels, omega 3 is particularly important for the brain to function properly. Other studies have shown that eating more omega 3, either from walnuts or fish, can significantly lower depression. Many people who suffer from depression have low levels of omega 3 in their bodies. Several other studies have also linked omega 3 deficiency in children with ADHD.

The FDA has also recognised the benefits of eating nuts to control heart disease. Nuts that contain less than 4g of saturated fat per 50g include walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts and some pine nuts. A study in 2009 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed those who ate walnuts had a significantly higher decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The study also showed that walnuts provided good levels of antioxidant protection with no adverse effects on body weight.

A handful of walnuts provide 2.5g of ALA, the plant-based source of omega 3, 4g protein, 2g fiber and 10% of the daily recommended allowance of magnesium and phosphorus.


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