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Fitness Nutrition

PART TWO: NUTRITIONAL THERAPY IN THE TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION

Today is Part Two of my thoughts on utilizing nutrition to aid in the treatment of depression. Part One can be read here.  

As a disclaimer, I DO NOT think simply modifying the diet can “cure” depression. Depression is an incredibly complex disease, not to be taken lightly. I do believe there is efficacy in nutritional therapy for the treatment and prevention of depression

THE STANDARD AMERICAN DIET AND DEPRESSION

The prevalence of Depression has been on the rise in the last 50 years. Another disease that is on the rise is obesity. The trend of poor nutrition  in our country that contributes to obesity could also be associated with higher rates of  depression. The diets of Americans are full of artificial ingredients, trans fats, sugars and an excess of calories. While nothing is wrong with a little bit of theses things, the problem is many do not practice moderation with these types of foods.

Many Americans don’t meet the daily recommendation for fruits and vegetables and their diets are devoid of critical vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. There are several vitamins and nutrients that research suggests may have an effect on depression. Perhaps it is a lack of these nutrients that is causing more and more people to develop depression. I believe that in many cases depression is caused by an interaction between genes and environment. Perhaps when someone is biologically predisposed to depression, then they eat a poor diet and have other life stressors, it triggers something in the brain that leads to depression. People can not control many stressors in life, but they can control what they eat.

Those struggling with depression often have diets lacking in essential nutrients. When someone is in the depths of the disease, they often make poor food choices that could even be contributing to the maintenance of their depression. Sometimes they don’t eat at all or eat very little, which also leads to nutritional deficiencies. Dietary intervention is often overlooked and doctors turn to medication. However, medication cannot work properly if the diet is poor.

THE ROLE OF FATTY ACIDS

The first nutrient I would like to discuss is omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Fats are critical for the brain to function correctly.  Studies show that sufficient long chain PUFAs may decrease the development of depression. When the brain does not get enough omega-3 PUFAs there is significant disturbance in neural functioning (Rao et al, 2008). There is evidence to support the idea that chronic inflammation influences the development of depression.  The standard American diet is full of inflammatory foods such as caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol. The brain releases inflammatory cytokines under stress. Many Americans live with chronic stress just in their everyday lives, so when you combine an inflammatory diet, the results are quite detrimental. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the brain, and a diet rich in omega-3s may help to reduce the inflammation as omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties as they decrease the number of cytokines produced (Bergmans & Malecki, 2017).

FOLATE AND ANTIDEPRESSENTS

The second nutrient that I believe to be important in the treatment and prevention of depression is folate. Folate has a critical role in brain metabolic pathways. The diets of depressed patients are generally lacking in folate. This could be because a patient’s diet is usually poor in general when they are depressed, or a diet lacking in folate could have some influence in the development of depression. Low levels of folate are also associated with poor response to antidepressants (Coppen & Bailey, 2000). Supplementing folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) may improve the effects of certain antidepressants. In a study, 500 μg folic acid was prescribed to a group of depressed individuals along with 20 mg of fluoxetine daily.  There was a significant improvement in symptoms in the group that took the folic acid along with the fluoxetine (Coppen & Bailey, 2000).

A TRADITIONAL WAY OF EATING

The final dietary intervention that could be important in the treatment of depression is the   Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet is a traditional way of eating that focuses on consuming mostly plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Fish is moderately consumed, while red meat and dairy are limited. Olive oil is the predominate source of fat which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs may improve the binding of serotonin to its receptors. Studies have shown that in countries such as Greece and Spain where olive oil intake is high there are much lower rates of suicide (Sanchez et al, 2009).  I believe that this whole food diet, full of antioxidants and lacking in inflammatory foods could be very beneficial when coupled with psychotherapy in the treatment of depression. Mediterranean diets are also inherently rich in folate and omega-3 fatty acids, both believed to be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of depression.

FOOD AS MEDICINE

We know food is medicine and that a healthy diet leads to a healthy body. When the body becomes deprived of healthy nutritious foods it begins to suffer. Mental health and physical health are not completely separate. A healthy body correlates to a healthy mind and vice versa. Think about it, you feel good on the inside so you are able to go out and enjoy life! You have sustained energy to engage in work and leisure. Depression is an incredibly complex, multifaceted disorder. Relapse rates are high.

While I do not think nutritional therapy is the end all be all cure, I am convinced that it is a critical tool in preventing and treating depression. Prescribing antidepressants to patients can be helpful to alleviate symptoms, but that is the problem- they are only scratching the surface of the disease.

Instead of reaching for pills, I would like to see the medical community gravitate towards instilling health eating behaviors in their patients. A brain that is not adequately nourished cannot fully engage in, and reap the full benefits of psychotherapy. If medication is prescribed, the body has difficulty metabolizing the medication and using it to its full potential if it lacks the nutrients that guide the metabolic process.

When the patient begins to eat in a way that supports proper bodily functioning, then therapy and medication have the potential to work for the patient. Until then, money and time is being wasted on interventions that will not hold up in the long term and the patient is likely to relapse. This becomes a vicious cycle of managing symptoms for a little while, but then relapse follows the brief period of remission. As the cycle continues, the patient becomes more and more frustrated with the process, and they risk losing the support of friends and family who feel exasperated.

It shocks me that there is still no dietary recommendation for the treatment of depression. It is time to change that. The scientific community pours millions of dollars into other interventions for depression, but somehow, the age old “Let food be thy medicine,” falls under the radar. Food can be medicine, if we give it the chance. It is time to invest in the whole body, and start  fueling the body, mind and soul in a way that will allow it to heal.

SOURCES

Bergmans, R. S., & Malecki, K. M. (2017). The association of dietary inflammatory potential with depression and mental well-being among U.S. adults. Preventive Medicine, 99313-319. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.03.016

Coppen, A., & Bailey, J. (2000). Research report: Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo controlled trial. Journal Of Affective Disorders, 60121-130. doi:10.1016/S0165-0327(00)00153-1

Rao, T. S. S., Asha, M. R., Ramesh, B. N., & Rao, K. S. J. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2), 77–82. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.42391

Sánchez-Villegas, A., Delgado-Rodríguez, M., Alonso, A., Schlatter, J., Lahortiga, F., Majem, L. S., & Martínez-Gonzalez, M. A. (2009). Association of the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern With the Incidence of Depression. Archives Of General Psychiatry, 66(10), 1090.

Categories
Fitness Life

Some Workout Clothes and Gear

Happy Tuesday!

I’m back at school which means I have access to a gym again! I love running outside but as I mentioned in a previous post, I want to get into lifting more this year and the gym is a good place for that obviously.

I put together a little roundup of my favorite workout clothes. I like shopping at Target, Tj Maxx/Marshalls and Dick’s Sporting Goods for most of my clothes. If I know my size in something though I’ve found that shopping around online you can get things cheaper that way.

I just bought these last week from Target and I’m actually wearing them now as I type this post! I worked out in them early this morning before my 8am class and they were so comfy both at the gym, and while sitting in lecture! I love the pattern and they’r are cute enough that I don’t feel like I’m totally bumming it by wearing them to class 😉

Nike Pro compression shorts are a staple in my workout wardrobe. I feel like I’m not even wearing shorts when I have them on! You can’t beat that in my opinion. I like that they come in fun colors too, while I typically stick to black or grey, I like getting ones with a pop of color on the elastic and Nike symbol for a bit of fun.

Brooks Pure Connects are the shoes I’m running in right now. I’ve been a Brooks wearer for a few years, they seem to fit my foot better than any other running shoe. I like the Pure Connects because they are super light weight, but still feel really supportive. They also have an almost “springy” feel to them.

My dad got me a similar shirt (he got it at the Adidas Outlet, so I think this is the newest version) for Christmas. It’s super light weight but long sleeved for those cooler days. It’s very breathable and I like the color options.

I have this foam roller in purple(my favorite color!). It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces of fitness equipment- hurts so good! Foam rolling is super important for recovery and I need to get better at doing it more consistently.

About Time protein powder is delicious! I bought the Birthday Cake flavor a little while ago and now I’m to the bottom of the tub. Don’t worry though, I have the Vanilla in the mail 😉 I really like the nutritional profile of this powder, and I really like the short list of ingredients. They also have a vegan version.

That’s it for my list! If I had all the money in the world, I know I could do some crazy damage on workout clothes and gear.

What’s on your fitness wish list?

Friday Favorites: Pinterest Edition

Happy FriYAY everyone! I am so excited that the weekend is here because it means I move back to school tomorrow! I’ve had a great break, but I’m more than ready to get back to my routine and friends.

I’m linking up with Heather for my first Friday Favorites post! Since I’ve had a lot of down time the past few days I have been browsing Pinterest a little more than usual. I thought I would share some of my favorite finds as of late!

One of my goals for 2016 is to run a half marathon. I found this training plan and it’s looks very doable. I definitely consider myself a “beginner” because right now I don’t run more than 3 miles at a time

I love Julie’s blog, and this recipe looks amazing!

I want to get into lifting weights this year. I liked this plan and I’ll have access to a gym and all the equipment at my school’s gym.

I love DIY’s and using natural products. I think I’ll be referring to this pin a lot in the future.

I did this workout in my living while watching The Kardashians, and my heart was beating after!

This would be perfect for spring break, GO BULLS!

Words to live by

This will be me moving back into my apartment on campus

Meet Me: An A to Z Survey

Hello all! Welcome to my brand new blog. I thought a little surgery would a be a good first post so I can share a little bit about me.  Also, my brain hurts from figuring out all this blog stuff, so a no brainer survey is perfect right now 😉

I had seen this cute little A to Z survey on some other blogs that I read so I decided fill it out for myself.

A – Age: 19.

B – Biggest Fear: Being alone.

C – Current Time: 8:25 p.m.

D – Drink You Had Last: Chamomile tea.

Love this brand

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: My little sister.

F – Favorite Song: Wow, that’s a hard one, I think I’m going to go with my favorite current song… so “Roses” by the Chainsmokers.

G – Grossest Memory: Luckily I was an observer for this one, but when my aunt was changing my cousin’s diaper and he umm, peed, straight in her open mouth- YUCK!

H – Hometown: Safety Harbor, Florida

I – In Love With: My amazing boyfriend, wonderful family and all the fur babies.

J – Jealous Of: Anyone on a warm beach vacation right now!

K – Kindest Person You Know: My mom- she has a huge heart.

L – Longest Relationship: Too long with an ex 😉

M – Middle Name: Anne

N – Number of Siblings: One.

O – One Wish: A life full of happiness and love.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: My mom.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: “What are you going to school for?” The lift of a college student lol. By the way, the answer is nursing.

R – Reason To Smile: Moving back to school on Saturday! I’m so ready.

S – Song You Last Sang: “Home Alone Tonight” by Luke Bryan.

I’ve seen him in concert twice!

T – Time You Woke Up: 7:45 a.m.

U – Underwear Color: Confession- I’m not wearing any.

V – Vacation Destination: Hawaii!

Who wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii!?

W – Worst Habit: Picking my cuticles.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: Teeth, neck, arm (growth plate).

Y – Your Favorite Food: Watermelon, I can eat watermelon like nobody’s business.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Pisces.

And that concludes my first blog post.

Feel Free to answer your favorite survey questions in the comments!