5 Foods To Boost Your Mental Health

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Boost your mental health by including these 5 foods in your diet

International Business Times

Dementia cases can be prevented by adding right kind of foods to the diet. Read on to know more.

A healthy body is necessary for having a healthy mind. And to achieve that, all you need to do is consume the right kind of food.

According to a study published in medical journal The Lancet in July, one in three cases of dementia can be prevented if people strengthen their mental health by improving their diet.

Therefore, include these foods in your diet to have a sound mind:

Salmon

Salmon is rich in Omega-3 and anti-inflammatory fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are healthy fats required for the brain. Andrea D’Ambrosio, a spokesperson for Dieticians of Canada and registered dietician at Dietetic Directions told Global News: “The fatty acids basically help protect our brains and cells and help with anti-inflammation so our brain can send signals to other parts of our body.”

“An imbalance of Omega-3 fats also impacts how our brain cells communicate with one another, and research has found that a lower intake of Omega-3 is associated with a higher risk of depression,” explains D’Ambrosio.

Berries and cherries

Shamsah Sonawalla, consultant psychiatrist, Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, Mumbai told LiveMint that for a good brain health, it’s important to have foods that reduce inflammation. Since berries and cherries are rich in antioxidants, it protects our brain from developing neuropsychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, as well as Alzheimer’s. “In addition, they contain flavonoids that enhance mood, help in hormonal balance and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone,” she added.

Walnuts

The brain-shaped nuts are good for the brain. They are one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids for the vegetarians. The omega 3 fatty acids present in the nuts are essential to reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost concentration.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Also, it can be helpful in reducing the oxidative stress on DNA, which has been linked to several neuropsychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Bananas

Bananas are loaded with B-complex vitamins that help in soothing the nervous system. Apart from that, the fruit has magnesium which is again essential for good brain functioning.

“Bananas are mood-enhancing because it affects tryptophan, which is another essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin…Tryptophan also helps with sleep, regulates our food intake – both which are associated with impacting mood as well,” says D’Ambrosio.

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Diets of Pregnant Women Contain Harmful, Hidden Toxins

healthy foods containing hidden toxinsRIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pregnant women regularly consume food and beverages containing toxins believed to pose potential risks to developing fetuses, according to researchers at  the University of California, Riverside, suggesting that health care providers must do more to counsel their patients about the dangers of hidden toxins in the food supply.

In a peer-reviewed study published in the July issue of Nutrition Journal — “Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California” — a team of psychologists from UC Riverside and UC San Diego found that the diets of pregnant Hispanic women included tuna, salmon, canned foods, tap water, caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications that contain substances known to cause birth defects.

The study is unique in that it highlights the unseen dangers of consuming toxins in food and beverages that are not typically thought of as unhealthy for a fetus, said Sarah Santiago, a Ph.D. student in psychology at UCR. It also contributes to the body of literature aimed at assessing dietary habits of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic pregnant women.

“Unlike alcohol and nicotine, which carry a certain stigma along with surgeon general warnings on the packaging, tuna, canned foods, caffeine, and a handful of other foods and beverages with associated developmental effects are not typically thought of as unsafe,” Santiago explained. “Hopefully, this study will encourage health care providers to keep pregnant women well informed as to the possible dangers of unhealthy consumption habits.”

The research team — Kelly Huffman, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside and the paper’s senior author; Santiago; and UCSD undergraduate student Grace Park — surveyed 200 pregnant or recently pregnant women at a private medical group in Downey, Calif., between December 2011 and December 2012. The women ranged in age from 18 to about 40, with Hispanic women accounting for 87 percent of the group. Nearly all had a high school degree, and about one-fourth had a college or post-graduate degree. More than two-thirds had an annual income of $50,000 or less.

Using a food questionnaire, participants reported how often and when during their pregnancy they ate certain foods, drank certain beverages, and ingested prescription and over-the-counter medications. Nearly all of the women reported eating meat while pregnant, with about three-quarters of them eating fish, typically tuna, tilapia and salmon.

All reported eating fresh fruit, but fewer than one-third ate the recommended amount of more than one serving a day. Three-fourths ate canned goods, particularly fruits, vegetables and soup. Most reported drinking water, with 12 percent consuming tap water. Eighty percent consumed caffeinated beverages, and about 6 percent reported drinking alcohol sometime during their pregnancy. Most reported taking prenatal vitamins. Nearly half reported taking an over-the-counter medication — primarily acetaminophen — at least once and most reported taking prescription medications at least once.

The results are concerning, the researchers said.

“Consumption of tuna, salmon, canned goods, sugary desserts, fast foods, and drinking of tap water, caffeinated  beverages, and alcoholic beverages during pregnancy have been deemed unhealthy due to the appearance of environmental toxins found to have harmful effects in the developing offspring,” the researchers wrote.

tuna

 

Tuna contains methylmercury, and prenatal exposure has been associated with numerous developmental deficits involving attention, verbal learning, motor function and delayed performance. “Staggering” levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in farmed salmon. Prenatal exposure to PCBs has been linked to lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, and abnormal reflex abilities in newborns and to mental impairment in older children. Metal food cans are lined with a plastic that contains Bisphenol A (BPA), which leaches from the lining in cans into the food. Prenatal exposure to BPA has been associated in animal studies with hyperactivity, aggression and reproductive problems.

 

“This study has found that income is inversely correlated with canned food consumption, suggesting that women of low socio-economic status in particular may be especially at risk,” the UC Riverside psychologists found.

 

 

tap waterTap water also contains prenatal toxins. In Downey, eight pollutants found in drinking water exceed the health guidelines set by federal and state agencies. Some of those contaminants are known to result in central nervous system defects, oral cleft defects, neural tube defects, low birth weight and risk of fetal death, the researchers said. Pregnant women should be encouraged to drink filtered or bottled water in areas where contamination levels are high, they advised.

Also problematic was the level of caffeine consumption, the research team found. Caffeine consumed during pregnancy is associated with fetal mortality, birth defects and decreased birth weights. Animal studies have found developmental delays, abnormal neuromotor activity, and neurochemical disruptions.

A handful of women in the study — 5.8 percent — reported drinking alcohol at some time during their pregnancy, less than the national estimate of 7.6 percent. Maternal drinking rates are highest among white women ages 35 to 44.

“We do not know whether this is something unique to Hispanic women, or ubiquitous among women of multiple ethnicities,” the researchers wrote. “The implications of this research are twofold:  Women of childbearing age hoping to conceive should be advised to eliminate all alcohol consumption, as effects of maternal drinking have dire consequences in the first trimester when the mother may not know she is pregnant. … It is also clear that prenatal medical professionals should discourage the consumption of dangerous foods, beverages and medications that women commonly report consuming during pregnancy.”

Not enough research has been conducted on certain substances to merit fail-proof labels of teratogenicity — that is, whether a substance causes developmental malformations. “Because regulation of prenatal consumption demands a very high level of evidence of teratogenicity, little-researched substances often go unregulated and health care professionals assume they are healthy,” Santiago explained. “The problem could also lie in reduced access to health care, or time constraints in prenatal consultations. Perhaps health care providers are informed, but fail to pass the information on to their clients for lack of time or because they assume the clients are already informed.”

Teratogenic substances often have subtle, though serious, effects that manifest later in development. “Research suggesting that a given substance does not cause physical abnormalities at birth may be misinterpreted as a green light for consumption — a grave mistake, considering that other research may exist demonstrating the long-term neural or behavioral abnormalities that result from consuming that substance during pregnancy,” Santiago added.

The research team continues to collect data on beliefs and attitudes about consumption of these substances during pregnancy in a search for clues as to why women continue to eat these substances, and where in the system interventions would be most appropriate.

Omega -3s Aid Recovery After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries

Omega -3s Aid Recovery After

Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries

LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY
January 29, 2013; 01:28 PM

Researchers at Loma Linda University Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine are the first to determine that a preventive diet high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids accelerates recovery and improves the ability to walk after traumatic injury to the spinal cord.

thumb_fats_and_oils_cover“Our findings suggest that a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be part of a comprehensive approach to enhance the prospect of recovery following damage to the nervous system,” said Dr. Marino De Leon, professor and senior author on the study. “Although much more work is needed to address this critical health problem, our findings illustrate that what you eat can be part of the solution.”

The study reports that this preventative nutritional intervention enriched in docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) prepares neural cells to respond to injury by modifying the cell membrane composition. In addition, the study shows that a diet enriched in omega-3 fatty acids favors the metabolism of protective lipids and promotes the expression of genes associated with cell survival and resiliency.

“Unfortunately, trauma to the brain and the spinal cord are common in contact sports, car accidents, and during military combat; and in most cases they are impossible to predict. Even minor impacts to the brain and the cord can be disabling as they can accumulate over time,” says Dr. De Leon.

LLU postdoctoral research specialist and the first author of the study, Dr. Johnny D. Figueroa, says the study identifies cellular targets important in the effects of nutritional omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease. “Because our bodies can’t produce DHA,” he says, “it must be acquired through the diet. Our study illustrates the therapeutic value of dietary omega-3 fatty acids, particularly in situations of anticipated damage to the nervous system. Importantly, we demonstrate for the first time the metabolomics lipids fingerprinting of the injured spinal cord after being subjected to a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.”

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, walnuts and salmon.

The findings were published on Jan. 10 in the “Journal of Neurotrama,” a leading peer-reviewed journal in the field of traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries. The study was co-authored by Kathia Cordero and Miguel S. Illan, both MD-PhD students at LLU School of Medicine. The research was supported by grants 5R25GM060507 and 1P20MD001632 from the National Institute of Health (NIH).

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