Sunday, May 2, 2010

Foods that Fight Depression and Stress Part I

I was asked to compile my research on foods that help fight depression and stress-related impact upon the body. As a runner, I am obviously very interested in nutrition and as a chemistry / neurological development geek, I cannot help myself from obsessively reading everything I can find on these topics. I have been checking primary and secondary sources to get the most accurate information. From my reading, I have the following three suggestions for runners, parents of small children, and any one else under stressful life circumstances:

1. Add Fish oil / Omega 3 fatty acids from fish at least once per week- Nathan's picture above is of his first fish. We are starting him out right, catching and eating fish! The brain is primarily made of up fats and the only kind of Omega 3's that it can use are from fish, specifically best is wild-caught salmon. The recommendations that I have found say to AVOID Atlantic Salmon as they are all farmed and low in the needed Omega 3's. Alaskan wild-caught sockeye salmon or king salmon are excellent. Cold-water oily fish such as salmon, tuna, bluefish, and mackerel are highest but sardines are also good. The studies are very encouraging that the Omega 3's help to stabilize the brain chemistry and stop depression and aggressive behavior.
sources: Real Food by Nina Planck and Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon and

2. Cut out sugar entirely. The list includes honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and "organic" sugar. This made me exceedingly sad. The only one that is possibly acceptable is Stevia but it does contain a corn derivative that we can't do. The research though is really overwhelming. The volume of sugar even healthy people eat disrupts the balance of minerals and nutrients in the adrenal system of the body. Sugar in any of the forms we eat suppresses the immune system by taking the needed minerals away from other systems. Sugar addiction causes and contributes to depression. The book listed below does give alternatives to sweeteners and what to eat instead.
Suicide by Sugar Nancy Appleton & G.N. Jacobs,

3.Eat whole foods - one ingredient foods including whole milk, butter, and cheese. Tons of fruits and veggies. Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are the best oils to use, instead of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Green leafy vegetable are excellent and an every meal staple. The research of Weston A. Price, an anthropologist from the 1920's and 1930's who worked with traditional cultures throughout the world has substantial amounts of information. I don't know that I agree with everything he wrote, but it is fascinating and worth looking into his viewpoints.

These things are not cure as faith in Christ truly is essential. Exercise also keeps the body's systems in balance. Part II will have practical application steps to how we have implemented these three suggestions into our crazy life...

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