Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hormone Factor

chap. 16 of Optimum Nutrition for the Mind by Patrick Holford
Hormones and neurotransmitters are chemicals that tell the body and brain cells how to behave.
If hormones are out of balance, our moods get out of balance too…just like when the neurotransmitters aren’t working well.

Apparently, it is becoming a common trend in medicine to treat PMS with anti-depressants.

Holford says, “I have never seen a PMS sufferer who didn’t improve dramatically with the right diet and supplements.”

Here’s the bottom line. “If you are deficient in vitamins, lacking in essential fats and have poor blood sugar control, you are likely to suffer with mood swings when your hormones go up and down.”
So – the first steps are to go back to Patrick Holford’s first recommendations linked here.

Four most important nutrients for banishing PMS related symptoms are as follows: (and please remember that nutrients should always be taken in conjunction with each other – so take a good broad spectrum too) 1. 300 mg Magnesium daily : French researchers gave 6 g of magnesium daily for the week before and the first 2 days of the period - nervous tension relieved in 89%, weight gain 95%, breast tenderness 96% and even headaches in 43%

2. 100 mg vitamin B6 - up to 88% improvement from B6 supplementing

3. 20 mg zinc – not only helps vit. B6 work but also keeps copper lowered and high levels of copper with low levels of zinc have been associated with depression

4. EPO – Evening Primrose Oil –4 x 500 mg supplements daily will give you 200 GLA which is what you want. Several double blind studies have shown that EPO is highly effective in treating depression, irritability, breast tenderness and pain and fluid retention usually associated with PMS. And guess what? Magnesium, B6 and zinc are known to increase utilization and effectiveness of EPO

Menopause? Same thing as above will be of help. Also – serotonin deficiency is also very common among menopauseal women so they would benefit from 5-HTP

Men and Hormones? About 1/3 of men in the 40-69 age group complain of a range of symptoms that commonly include (in order of importance) loss of libido, depression and worsening memory and concentration. Holford calls these classic symptoms of ‘andropause’.

This needs to be taken very seriously. Men are hard to diagnose with depression because they become more angry than sad.

Also – they are more likely to commit suicide.

Andropause can be helped by supplementing testosterone and levels can be tested easily and accurately with a saliva test in Canada – for a provider. The provider can also assist in carefully bringing your hormones back into balance.

Also lots of protein and complex carbs, as well as antioxidants and zinc are crucial.

Okay folks - next we are on to stress strategies, sleeping better and then manic depression so stay posted! Thanks for helping me stay motivated!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mood: Serotonin

I am going to deal with Clinical Depression in a later post. Today I am just addressing the milder ‘blues’ and moodiness.
Your mood and motivation isn’t only in your mind – as you should have already learned from my older posts- it’s in the chemistry of your mind.
Ensuring optimum nutrition for your mind not only improves mood but it also gives you the motivation to make changes in your life.

Serotonin of course influences our mood. Adrenalin and noradrenalin- made from dopamine – influence our motivation. All the major antidepressants are formulated to influence the balance of one of these neurotransmitters. From a nutritional perspective – we are lacking the building blocks, those nutrients, that are going to help us produce these vital mood enhancing neurotransmitters.

Serotonin deficiency is linked to one of these 5 main reasons:
1. Not enough estrogen or testosterone (female and male): the hormone connection. And what you might not realize is that if you are deficient in vitamins, lacking in essential fats, and have poor blood sugar control, you are very likely to experience mood swings when your hormones go up and down.

2. Not enough light - winter blues anyone?

3. Not enough exercise EXERCISE: counters the serotonin loss that stress causes so get out there and get moving!

4.Too much stress (especially in women)

5. Not enough cofactor vitamins and minerals (B6,B12,folic acid, magnesium and chromium especially

6. Blood Sugar imbalances (is this starting to sound familiar?) Again –Eat small regular meals of natural, unprocessed foods, including protein and fiber at each one and taking a combination of B vitamins and the mineral chromium. We covered this earlier to some extent I know but it bears repeating!

Choose foods that help make serotonin: fish, turkey, chicken, cheese, tofu oats, beans and eggs all have tryptophan which is an amino acid that – you guessed it – help make serotonin (come on – you knew this too didn’t you?)

5-HTP – short for 5-hydroxytryptophan is derived from an African Plant called griffonia .You can buy this affordably at your local Health Food store. They have been studying this nutrient since the 70’s and have found amazing results. One study where the patients were given either a common SSRI antidepressant or 5-HTP found that after 6 weeks, though both groups had improved, those taking 5-HTP had a greater improvement in each of the four criteria assessed- depression, anxiety, insomnia, and physical symptoms, as well as the patient’s self –assessment – and with no side effects.

50-100 mg two times a day Please note that though a recent review on 5-HTP confirms its safety again, Holford does not recommend you supplement this nutrient if you are currently taking SSRI medication.

Also – you may experience nausea the first time you take it but just decrease the dose and that should go away as your body adjusts. Try eating a piece of fruit when taking it but it is best if taken on an empty stomach – for absorption.

Oh and if you get very sleepy on 5-HTP then you probably don’t need it.

Anyone trying to find out their root cause for depression needs to take blood and urine tests to discover:
Serotonin and noradrenalin levels – do they NEED boosting?
Homocysteine level – is it too high?
Essential Fats – are your levels high enough?
Blood – sugar balance – is yours within a healthy range?

This makes sense – give the body what it needs! I will cover this more in a later post too.

Long again but good yes?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Better IQ and Memory Anyone....?

Okay - sorry about that last entry - TOO MUCH - got it. Rather than try to summarize all the great information in this fantastic book (buy the book - no I don't make any profits off it!) I am going to try to give some highlights that I think will be of interest to most folks out there. Here goes - and please keep the comments coming because I would love to know if this is hitting home for folks or not, and if I can help answer a question I would love to do that too.

I was really happy to know that I can improve my IQ and memory - believe me I need some help in this area! Lots of research backing this up once again...

like one involving 200 teenagers. They gave them either 20mg of zinc, 10 mg of zinc (the RDA - Recommended Daily Amount) or a placebo. Most kids get about 7 mg of zinc from their diet (so that would be the placebo group), so then the others would have gotten 17 mg and 27 mg (or so) per day.

The researchers found that only those taking 20 mg of zinc a day had faster and more accurate memories and better attention spans within three months.

1.Ensure you are intaking optimum amounts of vitamins and minerals from food sources as well as (good!) supplements. Zinc and all the B's are crucial

2. FOCUS on taking lots of essential fats - through flax seeds, oily fish and supplements too. You don't need a supplement if you are consuming THREE servings of OILY fish per week - (Mackerel, herring, Sardine, Tuna (not so much due to high mercury amts), Anchovy and Salmon -100g of one of these 3 times a week will get you enough - that gets you from 500-1400 mg of DHA each time) Supplementing 250-500 mg daily is recommended. (more if serious mental health stuff is going on but we will get to that later)

3. Eat Lecithin - but you have to eat a lot of it so there is another product called High-PC lecithin - it has 2x as much phosphatidylcholine in it which is vital for producing acetylcholine. You could also take 500 mg of choline

4. Watch the Blood -Sugar Levels again. Remember - eat slow release carbohydrates (the complex guys) and graze -no gorging!

5. Learn something new every day – keep your brain active! (wow –homeschooling grade 7- definitely doing that these days!)

As much as Memory and IQ are important, Beating the Blues is what I really want to spend some serious time on soon. If we are blue than everything in our lives is affected – our energy, our mood, our motivation, our spiritual lives. Beating the blues, to me – is key! So we are going there real soon! Stay tuned!