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/

 

Who Me? Gluten-Free?

IMG_4970   I remember my first experience with numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, along with other weird symptoms – a rash around my elbows (yes, just the elbows), stomach pain and breathing problems. After weeks of having symptoms, I began to wonder what was really going on. I saw my doctor, who suggested vitamin supplements and said we’d observe how that went. Kinda sorta saw a minor improvement, which made some sense, but ultimately, I still had frequent symptoms. Check out this article on neurological symptoms and vitamin deficiency to find out more about that:

that.http://brainblogger.com/2014/07/30/vitamin-b12-deficiency-and-its-neurological-consequences/

So anyway, she then referred me to a neurologist who cleared me of all things terrifying. I was very grateful but I still didn’t have answers. With time, I began to learn the connection between gluten sensitivity and its symptoms. I started experimenting. I went off of gluten. Felt amazing. Then, drowning in the sea of denial and bread withdrawal, I told myself my health improvement had nothing to do with gluten and I’d be fine if I ate it. Terrible idea. So I went back off. And on, and off. I did the tango with gluten a few more times before I regretfully came to terms with it. So eventually and very reluctantly – I decided to give up gluten. Bread versus being symptom-free of weird, scary sensations, I decided giving up bread, and pizza, and ugh, cookies was definitely worth it. Painful, but worth it.

I also later realized that although I had to make some food and financial sacrifices, there are a lot of gluten-free options now available. The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide to Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) and Other Interventions by Barrie Silberberg is an excellent resource for people looking to switch to gluten-free eating (and casein-free, if you prefer). Despite the title, it is not only for those suffering with autism or ADHD. It’s a great resource for multiple reasons, really, because she also details how gluten and casein affect developmental and overall general health.

Update on That ‘No Preservative’ Thing

So we’re getting through a week of eating preservative-free. Journeys usually start out as idealistic, courageous notions where everything will work out seamlessly. Why else would we choose to venture out on them, right? Only problem is, reality sets in really quickly sometimes. For instance, I was super pumped about going preservative-free. I’m walking around the house like, “Hey, who needs preservatives anyway? Why would anyone want to eat stuff that doesn’t belong in our bodies? That’s nasty!” Yup, I was pretty self-righteous and annoying. And that’s probably why I very mindlessly popped dye-filled bites of food into my mouth here and there without thinking about it until it was too late.  But so what? I didn’t stay on the plan 100% of the time. And that’s okay because Ladybug and I promised ourselves we would take small steps. That’s the thing about change. It just doesn’t work out well to do too much too fast. So we’re slowing it down. In fact, it’s a good time to focus on mindful eating, which has so many benefits.I’ll share an article about it soon.