Friday, November 09, 2007

"Brain Food: The Natural Cure for Depression"

By Karin Evans

"...For those accustomed to the notion that therapy means talking through problems and getting a prescription for antidepressants, this may seem an unusual approach. But Cass, an expert in nutritional medicine and an assistant clinical professor at UCLA, long ago became convinced that no form of psychotherapy can be fully effective if the brain isn’t functioning properly. And to do that the brain needs optimal nourishment, something she says is increasingly hard to come by in the typical American diet. “Depressed, tired, overweight women are often told they need Prozac,” Cass says, “when in fact all they really need to get their brains and bodies on track is a steady supply of real food.”

She recommends that her patients drink lots of water and eat organic vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. “Diets high in refined foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats can actually interfere with our natural brain chemistry,” says Cass.

Modern eating habits are part of what makes many people depressed, says Michael Lesser, a psychiatrist in Berkeley, California, who also bases his treatment on an evaluation of a patient’s diet and lifestyle. “Ironically, though we live in a wealthy society, our diets are deficient in crucial nutrients,” says Lesser, author of The Brain Chemistry Plan.

Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to chemical imbalances, like anemia and hypothyroidism, which in turn can lead to anxiety, insomnia—and depression. Cass has observed that people with depression are commonly diagnosed with low levels of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. In fact, Lesser firmly believes that most cases of depression in this country are either caused or exacerbated by poor nutrition.

[ ... ]

Alternatives to Prozac
Many experts now believe that diet and supplements can make a big difference in treating depression, though not every type. People who can tie their sadness to a particular event, like the breakup of a relationship or a job loss, are much more likely to find success with mood-boosting supplements. “But if your depression is unexplained, you should be seeing a professional and asking serious questions—not just popping 5-HTP,” says Timothy Birdsall, director of naturopathic medicine for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Depression might be the result of heart trouble that doesn’t allow enough oxygen to get to the brain, for instance, or an intestinal problem that prevents efficient absorption of vitamin B-12..."

~ full article ~


No comments: