Hello <<First Name>>,
This winter we bring you a short story on how to avoid the blues! Plus:
- An exciting cookshop on clever foods to drop your cholesterol & blood sugar
- Plant food sources of calcium
- Why you should eat horseradish
- Watch why the Mediterranean diet is protected by UNESCO
- Find out whether it is OK to heat food in plastic
Diet and Depression
Did you know depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability globally? If you experience depression, stress or anxiety – and struggle to manage your symptoms – you should start by looking at what is on your plate.
There is now evidence to support the long suspected link between what we eat and our mental health. Associate Professor Felice Jacka, and her colleagues from Deakin University and the University of Melbourne, have discovered links between diet quality and depression risk. The good news? Improvements in diet quality have been shown to be effective against depressive disorders in all age groups and backgrounds.
So how does diet affect your mental health? And what should you be eating to help increase your chance of happiness?
Inflammation harms the brain
Many chronic conditions stem from a breakdown in your immune system combined with various harmful processes in the body, including inflammation. But whether it is diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke, cancer or dementia, all of these conditions seem to have another thing in common: the co-existence of depression!
A study published in the journal Brain Behaviour and Immunity showed that an inflammatory dietary pattern is associated with a higher risk of depression! This study followed more than 34 000 nurses for 12 years, with the authors concluding that chronic inflammation may underlie the link between diet and depression.
Which foods increase inflammation?
If you want to dampen inflammation in your body and your brain, the best place to start is with fruits and vegetables. You can significantly up your intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients by increasing your fruit and veg intake. The more colour, the better! Also include legumes, nuts and wholegrains, which will really boost your fibre intake. And start using herbs and spices liberally – think turmeric, onion, garlic and ginger. Many spices have phytonutrients that are fantastic for fighting inflammation. You can find another dose of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in your cup of tea. Herbal teas like peppermint or sage have the added value of being caffeine free.
But beware of fast and processed foods like hot chips, donuts, sausages and pies. Their saturated and/or trans fat content can promote inflammation. Similarly, carbohydrate foods that are ultra-processed or sugary, such as lollies and biscuits, fuel insulin resistance in your body, which is also linked to higher inflammation and the risk of depression. When you realise that just one week of junk food eating can influence your brain functioning and volume, you have to ask yourself, “am I really being sold happy meals?”.
Your gut: friend or foe?
Another chain in the link between diet and depression is your gut. More specifically, the type of bacteria residing in your gut and the products they make from the food you feed them, which is collectively known as your microbiota.
Signalling between your gut and brain has been well established in scientific circles. But now its connection with depressive disorders is also becoming clearer. It’s been known for some time that establishing good gut bacteria in children early in life is important for brain development and thinking ability. Scientists believe the same thinking can now be applied when considering depression or anxiety. This is because in your gut you have a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. If you feed the bad guys it is likely you will experience higher levels of inflammation, but if you feed the good guys this can help reduce inflammation levels in your entire body, including your brain. For this reason, your gut can either be a great ally or your worst enemy!
So how do you feed those “good” bacteria? Fibre, fibre and more fibre from plant foods! When the good bacteria start to ferment the fibre from your food, they produce substances, such as short chain fatty acids, which help to maintain the integrity of your gut but also help to dampen inflammation in your body by influencing your immune system. Dietary change can affect your gut and mental health very quickly, so there is no time like the present to start increasing the fibre in your diet!
Protective dietary patterns
But rather than focus on specific foods or nutrients, it is far more beneficial to your mental health to look at dietary patterns, according to Professor Jacka. She was the first to demonstrate a link between a Westernised diet and a higher risk of depression compared to traditional diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the Asian diet. This is because a typical Western dietary pattern includes high amounts of meat, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, which tend to be pro-inflammatory. A plant-based dietary pattern on the otherhand appears to be directed at reducing inflammation. It is higher in fibre, fruit and vegetables and limits most sources of saturated fats, such as full cream dairy and red meat. Indeed, various types of nutrient-rich diets that limit junk food and follow the dietary guidelines may be associated with a lower risk of depression.
We are entering a new era. Nutritional medicine is now considered as a mainstream element for the treatment of depressive disorders. If you would like more advice on how to tweak your diet to combat depression please see one of dietitians today. Of course, you should always seek immediate medical help if your symptoms are severe.
“Stress spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence? I think not!”. - Author unknown.
What’s Cooking? – More Clever Foods to Reduce Your Cholesterol & Blood Sugar
Do you cringe at the thought of taking lifelong pills? Would you prefer to eat your way to better health?
Join us to learn about nature’s powerful ‘portfolio foods’ and drop your cholesterol, sugar and dress size the natural way.
Research has proven that a unique dietary combination of certain foods in appropriate amounts can lower your cholesterol by up to 30 %. This is as much as a starting dose of a first generation statin medication that doctors prescribe!
The only side effects: more energy and improved regularity. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Impressed? We can show you how to do it all at home to improve your blood test results.
At this event we’ll introduce you to a suite of superfoods, including edamame, barley, eggplant and chia. You’ll discover how plant foods can be both healthy and delicious!
You will just love this menu!
When: Wednesday 9th September 2015, 6.30 pm - 8:30 pm
Learn more about our cookshops
Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)
Enjoy a delicious three-course tasting meal, recipes and handouts!
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place. Bring a date and make it an evening out!
Food Matters with Sue Radd – Calcium From Plant Foods
Think dairy is the only way for you to get calcium in your diet? Read Sue Radd’s short article to get you started on the discovery of calcium sources from plants – important if you avoid dairy or are a low dairy consumer.
What’s Fresh – Horseradish
Legend has it the Delphic oracle told Apollo, “The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold.”
Horseradish is over 3,000 years old with records of the Egyptians using it in 1500BC. Early Greeks also used horseradish to ease lower back pain and as an aphrodisiac. The Jewish culture still uses horseradish as a bitter herb for Passover Seders. Today in the US enough horseradish is produced annually to season enough sandwiches to wrap 12 times around the world according to the Horseradish Information Council!
Horseradish may appear a humble cruciferous vegetable, but its bitey flavour is a clue to its powerful health benefits. Horseradish belongs to the Brassica family (which also includes kale, cabbage, radish and cauliflower). This family has potent anti-cancer properties thanks to the phytonutrients known as glucosinolates which are activated with chewing or cutting and spur the body to breakdown and eliminate cancer causing substances. Some of the phytonutrients in veges from the brassica family may also assist with easing respiratory conditions.
Horseradish is commercially available as a vinegar, a cream, shredded or dehydrated. But you can also buy it fresh at specialty greengrocers with the leafy green tops still attached. To choose a great horseradish, select one with firm roots and no visible blemishes. Store in the refrigerator in a bag and, before use, simply remove the brown peel. As soon as the white flesh is exposed to air, your horseradish will begin to brown and lose its pungency. Cut or grate immediately and store in vinegar to preserve freshness.
4 ways with horseradish
- Add to mustards, relish or dips for a spicy kick
- Use freshly grated horseradish in scrambled eggs before cooking
- Zest up salad dressings and sauces
- Ramp up your soups or stews with a hint of horseradish
Food InFocus – The Miracle Mediterranean Diet
Is your diet killing you slowly or making you happy? Find out what the traditional Mediterranean diet can do for your wellbeing and why it is the only dietary pattern protected by UNESCO! Watch this short TV episode with Sue Radd.
Kitchen Tips – Is it OK to Heat Food in Plastic?
Plastic is so convenient and it can reduce food waste. But is it posing a risk to your health?
Plastic containers are commonly used to store leftovers or portion out fast food. A quick zap in the microwave and dinner is on the table. But the convenience of plastic may be outweighed by potential harm to your health. There are many potentially toxic chemicals used to make plastics, including phthalates and bisphenol A. Phthalates are chemicals used to make PVC containers flexible. But phthalates from plastic can leach into your food causing hormonal imbalances and increasing the risk of birth defects. Bisphenol A (or BPA) is an oestrogen (hormone) mimicking chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics and in the linings of metal cans. It has also come under scrutiny as many studies have linked exposure to BPA – even at low levels – to various cancers, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
All food stored in plastic has the potential to become contaminated with such chemicals, but when heat is applied (such as when you heat your food in the microwave or water bottle in the sun) these chemicals migrate more rapidly into your food! Containers with cracks and scratches or those that have been through the dishwasher many times can leach plasticisers even more! And some studies now suggest that even BPA-free plastics may not be totally safe! Research using mineral water has found higher levels of toxic chemicals in the water when it was purchased in plastic compared to glass bottles.
So what should you use to reheat your leftovers? Go back to basics and opt for glass containers. Those with a plastic lid are safe since the lid doesn’t have to come into contact with the food and should be removed before placing food in the microwave. Or re-heat your leftovers on the stove top, using a ceramic or stainless steel saucepan.