Nutrition

20 06, 2013

Processed Foods: Empty Calories

By |June 20th, 2013|Nutrition, Wellness|Comments Off on Processed Foods: Empty Calories|

We know that the main currency the body requires to run is energy. This is what makes us function from the cellular level all the way up to the everyday activities. Why is it some days we have more energy and other days less? Why is it harder to get up in the morning when you have had a big dinner the night before? Have you ever wondered why we feel the need to nap after a heavy meal? Processed foods are full of empty calories that wreak havoc on energy levels. Looking at our diet practically gives us the biggest insight into understanding the levels  of energy we have, as well as  becoming aware of the nutritional needs we are lacking.

Can Diet Affect Brain Function?
For instance, let’s look at a typical fast-food meal that represents the processed foods that most Americans eat on a daily basis. A meal consisting of a burger, fries, and a soft drink may sound appealing, but it is full of empty calories.  In order to digest it, this meal takes away stored energy from your body. Additionally, once it depletes energy for digestion, there is little energy added to the body from this meal. This is due to eating the wrong combination of foods and the inability of this meal to yield any reasonable source of energy.
Energy depletion is one argument against eating processed foods and empty calories. Additional arguments include the increase in the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Essentially, these foods are physically unhealthy for us due to the following:

the use of low-quality food which is both unnatural and toxic to humans
destruction of food’s nutritional value through processing and refining
the use of protoplasmic poisons [...]

16 05, 2013

Anxiety and Nutrition – Part 2: Are There Foods I Can Eat to Help My Anxiety?

By |May 16th, 2013|Anxiety Disorder, News & Events, Nutrition, Panic Attacks|Comments Off on Anxiety and Nutrition – Part 2: Are There Foods I Can Eat to Help My Anxiety?|

In an earlier article, we covered foods to avoid if you have been diagnosed with anxiety. While anxiety is not caused by foods we eat or do not eat, symptoms can be influenced by good and bad nutrition.

Anxiety and Nutrition — Part 1: Can I Help My Anxiety by Avoiding Certain Foods?
Eating healthful foods contributes to proper hormonal and brain functioning, which leads to feelings of well-being. So, if you have been diagnosed with anxiety, what foods should you eat?

Drink Water. This seems obvious, but so many of us go through life dehydrated because we do not drink enough water. About 60% of the human body is made up of water, so it is vital that we replenish our water regularly. Dehydration can lead to anxiety, so it is vital that you drink enough water each day. How much is enough? Divide your body weight in half, and drink that number of ounces of water each day. A 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water daily. That means water, not sugary beverages or alcohol, which can lead to increased symptoms of anxiety.
Fruit. Some people avoid fruit because it’s “sugar.” But your body needs carbs and sugar, just not the refined sugars found in cakes and cookies. The sugar in fruit can be converted to energy. Blueberries and peaches are especially beneficial in terms of nutrients.
Vegetables. Mom was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. Foods rich in B vitamins have been associated with boosting mood and staving off both depression and anxiety. These foods include cauliflower, mustard greens, spinach, asparagus, red and green peppers, and beans/soybeans.
Foods That Include Tryptophan. You may have heard of tryptophan as the [...]

9 05, 2013

Anxiety and Nutrition – Part 1: Can I Help My Anxiety by Avoiding Certain Foods?

By |May 9th, 2013|Anxiety Disorder, News & Events, Nutrition, Panic Attacks|Comments Off on Anxiety and Nutrition – Part 1: Can I Help My Anxiety by Avoiding Certain Foods?|

There is definitely a link between anxiety and nutrition! Anxiety is certainly not caused by poor nutrition, but new studies indicate that some of the symptoms may be alleviated, at least to an extent, through good nutrition and by avoiding certain foods.
Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive and persistent worry, racing thoughts, trouble concentrating, and a general feeling of uneasiness and fear. Good nutrition can help calm some of these symptoms. Just telling someone to “eat healthy” isn’t enough; healthy eating can mean different things to different people. But studies and observation have shown that removing certain types of foods from the anxious person’s diet can help ameliorate some of their symptoms.

Here is a list of some items to avoid in relation to Anxiety and Nutrition:

Caffeine. The thought of giving up the morning coffee may be unthinkable to some people. But coffee is known to increase anxiety, especially if drunk in excess. One study indicated that caffeine intake of more than 300mg greatly increased tension and anxiety — and a Grande-size cup at Starbucks has around 330mg. Caffeine can also increase the heart rate and cause other physical symptoms that could lead to panic attacks.
Alcohol. Initially, it may seem that a drink calms you down. But drinking alcohol also leads to dehydration, hormone imbalances, and even physical symptoms that can trigger anxiety attacks. Not to mention that excess drinking can remove inhibitions and cause you to do things you might not normally do — and the aftereffects of alcohol-induced poor choices can certainly add to anxiety in general.
Nicotine. Okay, it’s not a food. But ingesting nicotine, a stimulant, can have effects similar to caffeine. It constricts the blood vessels and makes your [...]

7 07, 2012

Brain Food: The Benefits of Walnuts

By |July 7th, 2012|Brain Function, Nutrition|Comments Off on Brain Food: The Benefits of Walnuts|

Although they may look like half a brain, as a brain food, the benefits of walnuts affect the entire organ! A natural food that is helpful in fighting cholesterol and heart disease, walnuts have also been found to help with cognitive functioning.

Can Diet Affect Brain Function? Read Article here!
Omega-3s
As a brain food, one of the benefits of Walnuts is they are rich in omega=3s! Research has shown that boosting levels of omega-3s in the diet has a healthy, natural effect on decreasing the symptoms of depression, reducing inattention and improving focus in children and adults with AD/HD, and strengthening cognitive functioning overall. The implications for improved cognitive functioning have also shown promise in delaying diseases associated with aging, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Serotonin and Melatonin
Consuming one-quarter cup of walnuts can boost serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, thus supporting another of the benefits of walnuts! Both hormones, serotonin and melatonin, are directly linked to mood, cognitive functioning, and sleep. Those who suffer from depression, anxiety, mental confusion, and sleep disorders have reduced levels of these vital hormones in their bodies. So, if you are feeling down or want to stop counting sheep, munch on a handful of walnuts!

Anti-Oxidants
Among the greatest of benefits of walnuts as brain food is this: walnuts contain very high levels of anti-oxidants. The human brain accounts for only 2% of body mass, but it uses approximately 20% of the oxygen in our body! It is the organ that is most vulnerable to oxidative stress, and oxidative stress is associated with brain aging, ability to handle stress, and learning, and a host of disorders that are related to brain function! Thus, including a daily dose [...]

28 06, 2012

Can Diet Affect Brain Function?

By |June 28th, 2012|Brain Function, Nutrition|Comments Off on Can Diet Affect Brain Function?|

  
Yes! Think of your brain as the engine that controls the human body. The food you eat is the fuel or energy this engine needs to run. When we eat and drink foods that are not healthy for us, it is equivalent to putting dirty fuel in the engine. Just like a vehicle, using the best fuel for our body’s engine will help it run more optimally. Brain cells need twice the amount of energy as other cells in our body.

Many common disorders affect the brain, including Depression, Anxiety, AD/HD, Sleep Disorders, and many other disorders. The quality of the fuel we put into our bodies can play an important role in enhancing or reducing symptoms! Certain foods have the ability to exacerbate symptoms, while other foods can actually help minimize symptoms. Below is a list of a few nutrients and how they affect the brain and performance.

Omega 3:

Not only are Omega 3’s beneficial for their anti-inflammatory benefits and cardiovascular health, they are a great brain nutrient! Studies have documented evidence that daily intake of omega 3 can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, help calm hyperactivity in a child with AD/HD, and improve overall brain function and cognitive performance.

Protein:

Protein has long been touted for its importance in providing energy for the body. The amino acids in protein-rich foods are also beneficial for boosting brain energy! They are responsible for empowering healthy levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, important brain chemicals responsible for helping you feel alert and encouraging greater concentration. Whether dealing with lethargy from depression or an inability to concentrate from AD/HD, increasing your protein intake slightly may help minimize symptoms of “brain drain”.
 Food and Depression: You Are What You Eat
 Complex Carbohydrates:

19 06, 2012

Brain Fuel: Carbohydrates and the Brain

By |June 19th, 2012|Brain Function, Nutrition|Comments Off on Brain Fuel: Carbohydrates and the Brain|

There is a direct link between carbohydrates and the brain. We need carbohydrates; they act as brain fuel! Glucose forms in the body with the breakdown of carbohydrates. The brain needs glucose to perform properly, as it is the only sugar that feeds it. To function effectively, your brain cells need twice the fuel that other cells in your body require. Thus, a low carbohydrate diet could actually deplete this organ of much needed fuel!

 Food and Depression: You Are What You Eat!
Some carbohydrates are good for you, and some have a negative effect on the body and brain. Complex carbohydrates are like clean fuel; they feed the brain with natural sugar found in the healthier foods that we eat, including nuts, legumes, and fruits/vegetables. They are made of long chains of sugar molecules that slowly break down in the liver to the shorter glucose molecules the brain uses for fuel. Thus, complex carbohydrates work in the body more like a time-release capsule of sugar. These carbohydrates can have a positive effect on energy, focus, ability to process information and perform cognitive tasks, and they can boost mood!
Simple carbohydrates are found in sugary foods, including sodas, candy, and fruit juices. Consuming simple carbohydrates can be equated to taking an injection of sugar. These carbohydrates are found in most processed or refined foods, although they are also found in some natural foods. They have short-chained sugar molecules that breakdown quickly, thus they enter the bloodstream quickly. Sugary foods like soda, candy, fruit juices, honey, and corn syrup, are directly absorbed through the stomach wall; then, they rapidly release into the bloodstream, almost as quickly as if they were delivered by a syringe. Simple carbohydrates [...]

14 06, 2012

Blueberries Benefit the Brain!

By |June 14th, 2012|Brain Function, Nutrition|Comments Off on Blueberries Benefit the Brain!|

Simply google, “the benefits of blueberries,” and you will find that whether fresh or frozen, blueberries benefit the brain!
It is the flavonoids in blueberries that activate an enzyme which increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. These flavonoids are found in other berries, as well, including strawberries and raspberries.

Anxiety Disorder?
Blueberries for Anxiety! Click here for article!

Nurses’ Health Study
Recently, a research study was published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society which demonstrates that blueberries and strawberries, which are high in flavonoids, appear to reduce cognitive decline in older adults. The study results suggest that cognitive aging could be delayed by up to 2.5 years in elderly who consume greater amounts of the flavonoid-rich berries.

Depression?
A Berry Good Way of Beating Depression! Click here for article!

Nutrition Researcher
Nutrition Researcher, James Joseph, has this to say about blueberries. “What blueberries do is what simply can be called strengthening the brain by taking advantages of the brain’s tremendous redundancy,” said Joseph. “Blueberries have compounds that boost neuron signals and help turn back on systems in the brain that can lead to using other proteins to help with memory or other cognitive skills.”

Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Blueberries for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome! Click here for article!

British Study
British scientists published a study a few years ago that furthers the proof that berries keep the mind fresh! Researchers asked 40 adults, ranging in age from 18-65, to drink a Blueberry smoothie for breakfast. They were asked to perform a cognitive, mental task 45 minutes after drinking the smoothie. Five hours later, these volunteers performed an additional mental task and performance was measured. Two [...]

2 06, 2012

Improve Mood with Omega-3

By |June 2nd, 2012|ADD (AD/HD), Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Nutrition|Comments Off on Improve Mood with Omega-3|

Omega-3 Deficiency:
Omega-3 fatty acids make up a family of fats that help protect from heart disease and cancer, inflammation and joint pain, increased blood pressure, and a host of other health issues. This vital mineral is also imperative for healthy brain function to ward off mental disorders and stabilize emotions. Many doctors believe that the epidemic of mental illness in modern societies can be traced back to the lack of omega-3 in our contemporary diet and food supply. An omega-3 deficiency has been linked to decreased ability to focus and concentrate, AD/HD symptoms, anxiety and depression, and other issues related to the brain.

Symptoms of Omega-3 deficiency include:

Fatigue
Poor memory
Immune weakness
Dry skin, eczema, or hair loss
Heart problems
Reproductive problems
Mood swings or depression
Poor circulation

Depression and Omega-3:
In one study, low doses of an SSRI that would typically be considered ineffective were combined with omega-3 fatty acids. The result was an increased effectiveness of the anti-depressant effects. This finding is encouraging, and it may prove helpful when treating those patients who seem resistant to conventional treatment for depression.

Do I have Depression?
Anxiety and Omega-3:
There have been a few studies done that have concluded that when taken in high doses (2+ grams per day) over a period of weeks, participants in these research studies noticed fewer episodes of anxiety and an overall lift in their general mood. Typically, anxiety is one of the reasons for relapse for someone dealing with addiction. One study involving addicts found that the chance of relapse was reduced when participants took high doses of Omega-3 on a daily basis. Just as in other studies on Omega-3 for Anxiety, recovering addicts felt happier and more in control [...]

22 05, 2012

Food and Depression: You Are What You Eat!

By |May 22nd, 2012|Depression, Nutrition|Comments Off on Food and Depression: You Are What You Eat!|

Depression strikes individuals in America and across the globe! Recent studies in China, Australia, and Spain on the effects of food and depression all unwaveringly support the fact that what we eat has a significant impact on our mood!

Is there any relationship between dietary patterns and depression and anxiety in Chinese adolescents?
Weng TT, Hao JH, Qian QW, Cao H, Fu JL, Sun Y, Huang L, Tao FB.  Department of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health, School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, 81 Meishan Road, Hefei Province, Anhui 230032, People’s Republic of China.
In Bengbu, China, research supports that teens and kids who eat more blank carbohydrates and animal-based foods are more likely to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety than their peers whose diet consists primarily of a more traditional Chinese diet. The following study looked at more than 5,000 children and teens ages 11-16. The research concluded that dietary patterns should be considered important predictors of depression and anxiety among young people.

Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression
Almudena Sánchez-Villegasa1a2 c1, Estefania Toledoa2, Jokin de Iralaa2, Miguel Ruiz-Canelaa2, Jorge Pla-Vidala3 and Miguel A Martínez-Gonzáleza.  Centre for Health Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, PO Box 550, CP 35080, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain; Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain; Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Clinic of the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
A study conducted in Spain looked at almost 9,000 adults for a link between commercial baked goods, fast food and depression. The findings concluded that those who consume fast food, as opposed to those who eat little to none, are 51% more likely to develop depression. Additionally, there [...]

29 11, 2011

Mexican-Flavored Quinoa and Black Beans

By |November 29th, 2011|Nutrition|Comments Off on Mexican-Flavored Quinoa and Black Beans|

Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for healthy protein source. It’s also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as fiber. Quinoa is a great source of protein for athletes and those who eat a high protein diet.

Most commercially available quinoa has already been cleaned, but you should still rinse it thoroughly before cooking to be sure to remove any remaining saponins, a soapy resin that protects the seeds while they are growing, but can impart a bitter taste if not removed. Combine one cup rinsed quinoa to two cups water or broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, until the seeds become translucent and the germ of the seed uncoils to form a little “tail.” Drain any excess water and allow to cool. Once it cools, place it in a ziplock baggie and store in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for at least 10 days.

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent food for celiac patients or other people following a gluten-free diet. Quinoa flour is great for baking cookies, breads and muffins, and quinoa flakes are a perfect substitute for oatmeal.

Quinoa has a light, slightly nutty taste and a fluffy texture. It is extremely versatile, and can be eaten with every meal.
Mexican-Flavored Quinoa and Black Beans:
– ½ chopped onion

– 1 ½ c. chopped carrots

– Chopped garlic

– 1 tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet, saute first three ingredients in olive oil until carrots [...]