The American Psychiatric Association had a nutrition session for the third year in a row presenting findings on "Food and the Brain". This field is an emerging treatment paradigm that studies the influences of nutrition and gut health on behavior and disease risk.
What is important for you to know regarding nutrition, health, and self care?
1) There are 260 million neurons that connect the gut and the brain.
2) The gut bacteria make neurotransmitters and communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve.
3) Dr. Deans of the American Psychiatric Association has coined the term "Psychobiotics" and stated, "There is considerable overlap between irritable bowel syndrome and depression and anxiety.
My contention is that they are the same pathology that are expressed in different phenotypes. Gut pathogens cause inflammation and increase factors like IL-6 and interferon gamma-findings also seen in depression-ultimately reducing the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin."
Key points from the study are listed below, as well as references. Consider these tips to improve your digestion and emotional and physical health.
1. Oysters and other mollusks are high in omega 3 fatty acids, B12, and other nutrients needed for brain health. These help to make brain derived neurotrophic factor, in other words, helping brain and nerve tissue to grow.
2. You could reduce your risk of developing depression by 40-60% by following the Mediterranean diet. See additional references for guidelines.
3. Seafood such as sardines, anchovies and herrings are an optimal source of vitamin D and have less risk for mercury contamination compared to other larger species.
4. Kale, mustard greens and bok choy are great sources of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, K, and C, and are an important part of an optimum diet. Jump on the kale bandwagon now!
5. Nuts and legumes are part of a healthy diet and, and provide key dietary nutrients as well as fiber. Nuts have good fats and feed brain health.
6. An optimum microbiome produces by products of digestion that appear to protect against cancer. In as little as 2 weeks, a population of Americans was able to alter their gut biome to exhibit cancer protective substrates, as found in a South African population.
7. Eat good fats and do not strive for a fat free diet. High blood triglycerides are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and dementia and may be triggered by excessive carb consumption such as bread, rice, and potatoes. See your MD or nutritionist for clarification as needed.
In summary, nutritional medicine is becoming mainstream psychiatry as the title of Lancet Psychiatry reference 2 indicates, and the author states:
"The emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology."
Maureen Mason, MS PT, WCS, CCI, PYT-C
1. Am Psychiatric Meeting 2015 Food and the Brain summary on Medscape more »
2. Sarris J, Logan AC, Akbaraly TN, et al. Nutritional medicine as mainstream psychiatry. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015; 2:271-274.
3. Sánchez-Villegas A, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Alonso A, et al. Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra follow-up (SUN) cohort. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009; 66:1090-1098. Abstract
4. O'Keefe SJ, Li JV, Lahti L, et al. Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nat Commun. 2015;6:6342.
Additional references and resources
Beom Jae Lee and Young-Tae Bak Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gut Microbiota and Probiotics, J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 July; 17(3): 252-266. Published online 2011 July 13. doi: 10.5056/jnm.2011.17.3.252 PMCID: PMC3155061
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