Where You Hiding, Sunshine?

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What is going on? This isn’t right. Why’s it dark at 4pm? Why am I sleepy by 8? And also, why is it so cold that the city’s a big ole’ ice rink? I had to check in with someone else to see if I was the only one who was this disgruntled. “Ladybug, what do you feel like doing when it’s cold outside?”

“Nothing.”

“What a coincidence! Me too.”

And on top of all that, many people’s vitamin D levels drop fast with sunlight deprivation, especially people with darker pigmentation. Although, don’t think this doesn’t affect you, my pigment-less friends. Anyone can be vitamin D deficient.

I have to say though, of all the annoying winter-related inconveniences, the vitamin D thing is what I cared about the least, because I didn’t think it was really causing any problems. But I was wrong. In fact, the more I read about it, the more I think a lot of us are affected. Apparently, vitamin D deficiency can be the explanation for several concerns, like fatigue, poor immune functioning, insulin resistance, multiple sclerosis and depression. So it’s time to pay more attention.

According to researchers, vitamin D deficiency is very treatable. Foods like the ones listed below, supplements and the sun (the optimal and most natural choice) can help increase vitamin D levels:

  • fatty fish
  • beef
  • cheese
  • egg yolks

Many foods are also vitamin D fortified, for example:

  • milk
  • some cereals
  • yogurt
  • orange juice

By the way, the sun is so vital to our health that there’s a whole website dedicated to it: http://www.sunshinevitamin.org.

I realize it sounds like a terrible contradiction to have to go outside and freeze your tail off in order to feel good, but apparently, it’s completely worth it.

How Nutrition is Linked to Depression

img_0354What does it look like? Depression can mean having a hard time getting out of bed, not wanting to talk, even to the people you love the most, feeling like it’s a chore to do things that used to be fun, having trouble concentrating or even remembering. It might sometimes mean having to pretend everything’s just fine.

The musician, Kid Cudi, recently shared that he has suffered from long-standing depression. Although we know success does not equate to feeling joy, some may wonder why someone like him would feel depressed. Unfortunately, depression can have many causes, including difficult life circumstances, medical changes or genetic predisposition. It can be a complicated process to understand, even for the person who is suffering.

I appreciate that Kid Cudi shared about his mental health, because at least for a little while, the media is accurately describing depression for what it is, not a shameful secret, not something that happens to someone else, and especially not a weakness of character, but an illness that may be affecting our colleagues, loved ones and even us. And we don’t have to pretend it isn’t.

There are ways sufferers may naturally manage symptoms or in some cases, even resolve them (under professional medical and psychological care), depending on the source, especially if they may be partly or fully due to nutritional imbalance.

  • One of the most common biological factors involved in depression is unbalanced blood sugar. Even if a person doesn’t have diabetes, fluctuation in blood sugar can affect mood negatively.
  • Chromium deficiency is another nutritional issue that can cause mood issues. It reduces insulin resistance so again, there’s the relationship between blood sugar and mood.
  • Food allergies are found to be related to depression. A food and mood log might help determine which foods are causing problems. To determine a pattern, it might be helpful to continue logging for a couple of months.
  • Omega-3 fats help build connections in the brain, so a deficiency can contribute to  negative mood.

Check out Food for the Brain to read more about natural options for depression. Speak with your primary care physician or psychiatrist, as well as a clinical therapist for appropriate care. An article in The Atlantic  gives some insight into Kid Cudi’s challenges with depression and his decision to receive treatment.

Myth or Fact: Bread May Cause Seizures

image1Can bread be the reason you’re feeling anxious and depressed? Do you know someone who has seizures but doesn’t know the underlying cause? Based on recent research, it’s quite possible that gluten is the problem. Gluten is often linked to digestive symptoms, however, there is also research that suggests gluten is related to brain functioning and mental health.

Here’s what a research review of 162 studies shows regarding the relationship between gluten and neurological and/or psychiatric symptoms (Jackson et al., 2012):

36 articles for seizure disorder

20 articles for movement dysfunction such as ataxia and cerebellar degeneration

26 articles for neuropathy, which causes weakness, numbness and pain related to nerve damage

20 articles for schizophrenia

14 articles for depression

12 articles for migraine

Up to 10 articles each for anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, myopathy, white matter lesions

There may be a variety of reasons why a person is experiencing any of the neurological or psychiatric issues listed, however, it’s worth talking with your doctor if you suspect gluten might be part of the problem.

To read more about the relationship between gluten and the above listed diagnoses, go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3641836/

 

Just Say “No” and Other Ways to Turn Down Amazing Holiday Foods because it Just Wouldn’t End Well

 

IMG_1731 - Version 2Oh, the sparkly decorations, holiday parties and all that alluring food that gives you the come hither look that no one else can see. During the holidays, it is sometimes difficult to say no to all of the variety available at the table. You’re laughing and talking and maybe drinking a few sips of alcohol throughout the evening. You’re having a great time, the conversations are intriguing, your inhibitions are slowly slipping away.

Even though some of us may know exactly what foods trigger our allergic and inflammatory responses, it’s tempting to overlook the repercussions in the moment, particularly when dining with others. As though it’s not hard enough to fight off the urge to try every little delightful dish on the table, there’s also Good Food That’s Oh, So Bad for Me peer pressure. The act of sharing a meal is a significant custom in many parts of the world. It is a cherished form of communing for many, and some take these rituals very personally.

Every culture has its unspoken guidelines about food. In some cultures for instance, burping is apparently a sign that the food was tasty. It is said to equate to a sign of appreciation. In other cultures, it is a sign of disrespect to refuse food, which might be a more difficult custom to work around when trying diligently to avoid certain foods. Although you don’t want to go around offending people, there are definitely ways to stand your ground without feeling like the pretentious jerk of the party.

The more information people have about the severity of a food allergy (or your reasons for staying away from a particular food), the more buy-in you’ll receive. An explanation of your preferences is often sufficient for people to back off, however, in some families, such as my own, people insist that I MUST try a certain dish. If you start getting the evil eye and you want out, it may be helpful to throw out some solid statistics to solidify your point.

If your loving family finds a cunning reason to induce guilt (sometimes being synonymous with family) by saying something like, “Oh, that’s too bad because your 98-year-old grandma made this just for YOU,” thrown in with a look that could slap, you might have to reach far within the back of the arsenal.  In the past, I’ve taken a piece of food and offered the possibility that I might try a teeny, weeny bite. Maybe. This is usually a huge maybe.

And I get the pressure. This is THE family recipe. Your Mama’s Mama’s Mama made this particular recipe for 70 decades. And it’s not about the Jones family cookies or the Mama Lucy’s peanut bars, it’s about unity, nostalgia and making new memories together. So, as I said, It’s a huge maybe, but I’d rather slide something onto my plate instead of hurting poor Grandma’s feelings.

There is also the option of bringing a dish, which the host will surely appreciate. This way, temptation is down and you have a safe alternative. Bringing a dish is also a visual reminder to others that your food concerns are real. They may even love what you’ve brought.

Have a wonderful, yummy holiday filled with blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship between Preservatives and Dementia

I currently provide psychological services to patients suffering from dementia. The umbrella term of dementia includes Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease-related Dementia, among others. There seem to be a variety of reasons people develop dementia, one of them being linked to consumption of preservatives. Dr. Suzanne de la Monte has discovered a relationship between dementia, insulin production and preservatives. She reports that preservatives in the body can cause increased insulin resistance. Insulin is most often associated with the pancreas, however, insulin is also produced in the brain. According to Dr. de la Monte, lack of insulin in the brain is related to dementia. Read the article here: http://www.rhodeislandhospital.org/services/alzheimers/memory-disorders/diet-and-dementia-toxic-preservatives-contribute-to-alzheimers-disease.html