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indexThe journal Nutritional Neuroscience, published a paper in April 2017, exploring the relationship between diet and depression.[1]

The authors note that converging evidence from laboratory, population research, and clinical trials suggests that healthy dietary patterns, such as the traditional Mediterranean-style whole-food diet, and specific dietary factors, including omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), vitamin B6 and folate, antioxidants, and zinc, may influence the risk for depression. Despite the consistency of published evidence on the relationship between dietary patterns and depressive disorders, arising from numerous observational studies carried out in recent years on large and heterogeneous populations (including diverse cultures and age groups), and the emerging evidence suggesting that dietary improvement may prevent depression, there are no dietary recommendations currently available regarding depression.

Background:

Major depressive disorder is a common, chronic condition that imposes a substantial burden of disability globally. As current treatments are estimated to address only one-third of the disease burden of depressive disorders, there is a need for new approaches to prevent depression or to delay its progression. While in its early stages, converging evidence from laboratory, population research, and clinical trials now suggests that dietary patterns and specific dietary factors may influence the risk for depression. However, largely as a result of the recency of the nutritional psychiatry field, there are currently no dietary recommendations for depression.

Aim:

The aim of this paper is to provide a set of practical dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression, based on the best available current evidence, in order to inform public health and clinical recommendations.

Results:

Five key dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression emerged from current published evidence. These comprise: (1) follow ‘traditional’ dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian, or Japanese diet; (2) increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds; (3) include a high consumption of foods rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; (4) replace unhealthy foods with wholesome nutritious foods; (5) limit your intake of processed-foods, ‘fast’ foods, commercial bakery goods, and sweets.

Conclusion:

Although there are a number of gaps in the scientific literature to date, existing evidence suggests that a combination of healthful dietary practices may reduce the risk of developing depression. It is imperative to remain mindful of any protective effects that are likely to come from the cumulative and synergic effect of nutrients that comprise the whole-diet, rather than from the effects of individual nutrients or single foods. As the body of evidence grows from controlled intervention studies on dietary patterns and depression, these recommendations should be modified accordingly.

The paper makes five key recommendations:

  1. Follow ‘traditional’ dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian, or Japanese diet. The available evidence suggests that traditional dietary habits may be beneficial for positive mental health.
  2. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds. These foods should form the bulk of the diet as they are nutrient dense, high in fibre, and low in saturated and trans-fatty acids.
  3. Include a high consumption of foods rich in omega-3 PUFAs. Fish is one of the main sources of omega-3 PUFAs, and higher fish consumption is associated with reduced depression risk.
  4. Limit your intake of processed-foods, ‘fast’ foods, commercial bakery goods, and sweets. These foods are high in trans-fatty acids, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars, and are low in nutrients and fibre. Consumption of these foods has been associated with an increased risk or probability of depression in observational studies.
  5. Replace unhealthy foods with wholesome nutritious foods. Healthy dietary patterns (e.g. fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, and fish) and unhealthy dietary patterns (e.g. sweets, soft-drinks, fried food, refined cereals, and processed meats) are independent predictors of lower and higher depressive symptoms, respectively.

Comment

As all NTs and functional medicine trained practitioners will recognise, these core recommendations make good clinical sense, but in themselves will not transform someone’s mental health alone. Further manipulation of the microbiome, may be another intervention, as well as suitable personal skill developments.

Reference

[1] Opie RS, Itsiopoulos C, Parletta N, Sanchez-Villegas A, Akbaraly TN, Ruusunen A, Jacka FN. Dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Apr;20(3):161-171. View Abstract

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imagesA summary of key points.

In this mini update, learn more about possible contributors to IBS, and how simple diet or supplemental interventions may improve it. There’s a lot more than just probiotics to try!

Learn about:

  • The importance of the pancreas and digestive enzyme secretion,
  • Support for improving constipation,
  • And how mealtime habits can be a simple solution!
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imagesDr Carrie Decker ND, explores some of the main methodologies and practices employed in  translational research. Supporting patients in their health with nutritional supplements and botanical therapies often requires one to draw upon a wide variety of academic resources. This ranges from clinical training and continuing education to searchable databases which provide easy access to a broad spectrum of research on nutritional supplements. Anyone who has ever looked for clinical studies on the topic of nutritional or botanical interventions understands this research is far lacking, is often poor quality or a non-placebo controlled study, and the population size, if human data exists, is small. For this reason, it is important to understand what can best be gained from other types of studies.

1-fatty-liver-diseaseWhere there’s a buck to be made…

Dr Carrie Decker ND explores trends in R&D by pharmaceutical companies and the evolving problem of liver conditions. With increasing rates of obesity and metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) have become increasingly common, such that they are now the most common cause of liver disease in Western countries.[i] This has not gone unnoticed by those in the market of drug development. Where there is a disease to “treat” there is a buck to be made.

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Review of Homocysteine

Wednesday, 08 March 2017 by

homocysteine_fig_1By Antony Haynes BA,  Registered Nutritional Therapist

The word ‘homocysteine’ has entered the lexicon of familiar words over the past decade, at least for health practitioners, as has the term methylation, and the two are intimately connected.

What is Methylation?

Methylation denotes the addition of a methyl group on a substrate, or the substitution of an atom (or group) by a methyl group. Methylation is a form of alkylation, with a methyl group, rather than a larger carbon chain, replacing a hydrogen atom. Methylation is catalysed by enzymes.

imagesKeeping your blood sugar in check by Dr Carrie Decker ND.

In this article, learn more about diabetes, and natural ways to support blood sugar balance. Key Points:

  • Relationship of diabetes with food economics
  • Diabetes statistics and complications
  • Metabolic syndrome as a risk factor for diabetes
  • Holistic interventions for blood sugar management including dietary choices, exercise, and evidence based supplementation

UntitledThis first analysis dealing with the relation between the Mediterranean diet and ADHD in children and adolescents, uncovers some unhealthy eating habits that could play a role in the development of this psychiatric disorder.[1]

More work is now required to identify any causality, however the researchers have raised some interesting points.

CPD_0.previewA research paper published in Jan 2017 (behind a paywall) in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design, asks an interesting question about cruciferous vegetables.[1] They go onto explore the relationship of the breakdown products from the digestive effects and microbial conversions and conclude that these have multiple points of beneficial intervention.

Mastic GumIn a follow-on to other recent discussions concerning mastic gum for oral health and allergic/asthmatic presentations, a look at studies surrounding the use of mastic gum (Pistacia lentiscus) for management of blood sugar and cholesterol is warranted. The potential benefits of chios mastic gum have long been known to extend far beyond treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection, with historic uses ranging from treatment of poor digestion and oral health maintenance, to the treatment of infection including tuberculosis.[i] However in the 18th and 19th century when mastic products experienced their greatest trade and fame, conditions such as dysglycaemia and dyslipidaemia were not a public health concern. Only in the early 1900’s was cholesterol coming to medical awareness, with discoveries by familiar names such as Virchow and others of circulating lipoproteins and deposition of lipids in atherosclerotic plaques.[ii]

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Mastic resin, or gum, from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), is well known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as bactericidal effect against Helicobacter pylori.[i] However, it also has a history of cultural use, as a gum, for maintenance of oral health.  Historically, chewing of mastic was popular in many regions of the Ottoman Empire during the 18th and 19th century. [ii] Trade from the island of Chios, the primary region in which the mastic tree was found, boomed due to high international demand. It was noted to promote oral hygiene, as well as pleasant and fragrant breath.

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