PFTL News October 2018

10 BEST FOODS TO REDUCE ANXIETY (HEALTH 09/27/18)

We all know the saying, “You are what you eat.” But recent research makes the case that this adage applies not just to your physical body but your mind as well. The foods you put on your plate really can make a real difference when it comes to mental health issues, including anxiety disorders—the top cause of mental illnesses in the United States.

How does food help with anxiety? Anxiety is caused in part by an imbalance of neurotransmitters, explains Ali Miller, RD, an integrative dietitian and author of The Anti-Anxiety Diet. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers believed to play a role in mood regulation. A diet that features nutrients from whole food ingredients helps create neurotransmitter balance by improving the gut microbiome.

When it comes to dialing down anxiety, what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do, says Nathalie Rhone, RDN. “Foods that are processed, high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, fried, or loaded with additives can all heighten anxiety since they are inflammatory in your system, which can eventually affect your brain.”

Here, 10 foods to add to your meal prep routine now.

Turkey – Tryptophan, an amino acid in turkey, has a relaxation effect can also ease anxiety. “Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, the happy, calming neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep,” says Rhone.

Salmon –This versatile and satiating fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health and a well-functioning nervous system. Opt for wild salmon over farmed varieties.

Dark chocolate – Nutritionists sing the praises of dark chocolate because it has more healthy antioxidants than other kinds. “The antioxidants in dark chocolate trigger the walls of blood vessels to relax, which boosts circulation and lowers blood pressure.” Make a small chunk of 70% (or higher) dark chocolate a part of your mid-day diet.

Asparagus – In 2013, the Chinese government proclaimed that asparagus extract is a natural functional (aka, medicinal) food for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation Bonus points go to asparagus for being a prebiotic food, meaning it serves as a food source for probiotics, which are also thought to have positive effects on mood.

Sauerkraut -Speaking of probiotics, fermented products such as sauerkraut are considered probiotic foods, and consuming more of them on a regular basis appears to have a mood-boosting effect.

Citrus fruits – “Our adrenal glands are the most concentrated storage tissue for vitamin C and they use the nutrient in the regulation of cortisol,” says Miller.

Broccoli – Dark green veggies like broccoli contain magnesium, “a calming mineral that can help with relaxation, as well as with keeping things moving through your digestive system,” notes Rhone.  Other top sources of magnesium include almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.

Avocado – Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that help optimize circulation, says Sass, which contributes to better blood flow to the epicenter of your anxious thoughts: your brain.

Oats – Like leafy greens, oats contain high levels of soothing minerals like magnesium. They also provide steady, even energy and are packed with antioxidants and nutrients involved in mood regulation.

Chamomile tea – Chamomile tea might help reduce your anxiety. According to a report from Harvard Medical School, chamomile tea has been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for anxiety.

SURPRISING NEWS ON DIABETIC SYMPTOMS  (IDEA Fit Tips, Vol 16, Issue 9)

Research published online in The Journals of Gerontology turned up some unexpected findings about type 2 diabetes.

Just two weeks without much activity can have a dramatic impact on health, according to researchers who studied overweight older adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And unfortunately, it may be difficult to recover from this negative effect.

Not only did an abrupt, brief period of inactivity hasten the onset of the disease and elevate blood sugar levels among prediabetic patients, but some study participants did not fully recover when they returned to normal activity for 2 weeks.

“We expected to find that the study participants would become diabetic, but we were surprised to see that they didn’t revert back to their healthier state when they returned to normal activity,” says Chris McGlory, a Diabetes Canada Research Fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and lead author of the study.

If people are going to be off their feet for an extended period, they need to work actively to recover their ability to handle blood sugar.

For pre-diabetic older adults to recover metabolic health and prevent further declines from periods of inactivity, strategies such as active rehabilitation, dietary changes and perhaps medication might be useful,” says McGlory.

Research has shown that within days of the start of inactivity, there are notable reductions in skeletal muscle mass and strength, along with rapid onset of insulin resistance, a common feature of type 2 diabetes.

STILL WALKING – We are still walking at 5:30pm, Mondays and Wednesdays, in Gillson Park. Everyone is welcome.

PFTL NEWS August 2018

NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN THE FREE WALKING CLINIC – Monday & Thurs. 5:30pm-6:30pm- Gillson Park

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HUNGER AND ANGER = HANGER  (from ACE Health eTips June 27, 2018)

Most of us have experienced the overwhelming grouchiness that takes over when we’ve gone too long without food. Turns out, there’s some science to explain why this happens. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help your clients cope when hanger strikes.

The official definition of hanger is “a feeling or showing of anger due to hunger.” As humans, we have the choice to listen to our hunger. Yet, in our busy and overbooked lives, we often choose to ignore this signal, waiting far too long to feed our empty stomachs. The body’s response to being ignored is to cause an emotional reaction (like anxiety and stress) to prompt a reaction. And the longer the body is deprived, the greater the emotional response.

It’s important to realize that the stomach and brain are connected to one another, and part of the communication is related to signals of hunger and satiety. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found a correlation between hunger, feeling angry and having low blood sugar. Basically, when you’ve gone too long between meals, your blood sugar level drops, signaling the release of a cascade of hormones.

Ghrelin – Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach that stimulates feelings of hunger. It can also produce anxiety in the brain, which is where hanger starts. When you’re hungry, you’re more more irritable and more aware of your emotions because it reinforces the drive to seek food and to satisfy nutrition needs. A release of ghrelin causes you to be hungry and should be the motivation for you to begin seeking out food. When you eat, ghrelin disappears and so does the anxiety. However, if this hunger signal is ignored, it can cause a disruption of other hormones in your body.

Cortisol and Adrenaline – A low blood sugar level also triggers the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. As these two hormones increase, the body goes into a fight-or-flight response. From there, the effects of hanger are expressed mentally, emotionally and physically.

When you’re hungry, your prefrontal cortex doesn’t function at a high capacity. This can affect personality, self-control, planning and even temporarily shut down long-term memory. Emotionally, your mind begins to feel anxiety and stress. This can lead you to lose patience and focus, or even act abnormally. Physically, your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration all increase.

Neuropeptide Y – If you continue to ignore the ghrelin and the spike in cortisol and adrenaline, your body will go into a panic mode and you will experience hanger in its full effects. At this point, the body releases neuropeptide Y, which has been found to make people behave more aggressively toward those around them. Additionally, this neuropeptide stimulates food intake with a preference for quickly digestible carbohydrates. Lastly, a release of neuropeptide Y increases your motivation to eat large amounts of food, while also delaying how long it takes for that food to make you feel satisfied. In a nutshell, hanger causes you to have a larger-than-normal appetite, especially for carbs, so you end up overeating.

Real-life Effects of Hanger

Example #1: One study that attracted attention a few years ago found that judges are less likely to set lenient sentences the closer it gets to lunch. Turns out, their hunger led to hanger, which impacted their decision-making skills.

Example #2: classic study of married couples asked them to stick pins into “voodoo dolls” that represented their loved ones, to reflect how angry they felt toward them. They found that when people had lower blood sugar levels, the more pins they stuck into their dolls. Ouch!

HOW TO PREVENT HANGER

Be Mindful –  Listen for clues. If you notice yourself getting more irritable, hunger may be the cause. Take a break and find a snack that contributes to healthy eating. Most people should not go more than four to five hours between meals. This type of healthy eating pattern will help relieve your hunger and balance out your blood sugar levels to prevent riding the emotional rollercoaster of hanger.

Be Prepared – Keep snacks on hand that are travel-friendly, so you have them readily available. A snack should contain a blend of carbs, proteins and fats. Whole-grain carbs that are high in fiber (5 grams or more per serving) raise serotonin levels to give your blood sugar a quick boost, while the fiber keeps your stomach full. Proteins and fats are digested more slowly to give you staying power and keep you feeling full for longer. By having your own stash of healthy and fresh foods within reach, you’ll be less tempted to indulge in less-healthy fare that lack the nutrition your body craves.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND WEIGHT LOSS? (from IDEA Fitness Journal July 2018)

Apple cider vinegar has a cure-all reputation for helping with weight loss, cholesterol, diabetes, acne, digestive problems and other issues. The truth is somewhat less impressive, but apple cider vinegar does have proven health benefits.

Some small studies have found that vinegar can aid weight loss (Kondo et al. 2009). The vinegar may reduce food intake either by increasing satiety (Ostman et al. 2005) or by leaving people feeling nauseated (Darzi et al. 2014), which seems like a pretty miserable way to lose weight.

Vinegar has long been a folk remedy for diabetes, and recent science supports the association. Drinking about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal helps to control blood sugar in healthy adults as well as adults with diabetes (Johnston et al. 2013). The effect seems to happen because vinegar reduces the digestion of carbohydrates (Johnston et al. 2010).

Apple cider vinegar has impressive antibacterial and antifungal properties, including against pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli that cause foodborne illness (Yagnik, Serafin & Shah 2018). Vinegar has been used for centuries to clean wounds and disinfect surfaces.

One caution: Vinegar is quite acidic (about 5% acetic acid) and can irritate the skin, mouth and throat. It can also harm tooth enamel. If you drink it, dilute a tablespoon in at least a cup of water. Better yet, use vinegar as an ingredient in food: vinaigrettes for grain salads, green salads and other vegetables.

Unpasteurized vinegar still contains the “vinegar mother,” or the bacteria that converts wine into vinegar. Consider looking for unpasteurized brands, as those probiotic bacteria may have additional benefits.

PFTL NEWS December 2015

FOOD FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE MOOD (excerpted from ACE Prosource  Dec. 2015)

There are numerous research studies to support the fact that foods do affect mood and temperament. Here is a list of some of the most potent and well-documented foods, nutrients and supplements that influence how we feel.

HydrationThere is no other nutrient, food or supplement that will affect the brain more profoundly than water. The brain of an adult human is approximately 78 percent water. A loss of only 1 to 2 percent of body weight as fluid, leads to reductions in the subjective perception of alertness and ability to concentrate and to increases in self-reported tiredness and headache.  Daily fluid intake recommendations are 9 to 12 cups of fluid per day for a sedentary individual in the form of fluids, non-alcoholic beverages, soups and foods. An additional 2 cups per day should be added for the following factors: illness, weight-loss dieting, activity, hot, dry or humid environments, high altitude, travel, pregnancy and lactation.

Carbohydrate and ProteinThe amino acid tryptophan is a building block for serotonin, the calming, feel-good brain chemical. Typically, unless you are on a protein-restricted diet, you have enough tryptophan circulating to raise serotonin levels. A lack of carbohydrate in the diet, which initiates the cascade of biochemical events that allow tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, is the most common dietary reason for low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is also responsible for helping the body prepare for rest and sleep. Therefore, it is a combination of protein and carbohydrate that enhances mood, alertness, rest and relaxation.

Research has found that diets that include less than 40 percent of total calories from carbohydrate can increase the risk of depression in depression-prone subjects.  Furthermore, anecdotal reports of low mood and sleep disturbances are frequently reported by individuals on very-low-carbohydrate diets. When managing a carbohydrate-controlled diet, maintain total carbohydrate at or above 40 percent of total calories from carbohydrates.

Fish Oils: DHA and EPAFish oils may help ease symptoms of depression. Patients with mild-to-moderate depression have benefited from fish oil treatment. Eating three to five 4-ounce servings of fatty fish per week is also highly recommended. Fish high in oils include sardines, salmon, herring, trout, black cod, shellfish and canned tuna that contains the original fish oils.

Vitamin DThe role of vitamin D in depression is well documented, as vitamin D plays an important part in maintaining levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain.  Studies utilizing good research methodology have shown in meta-analysis that vitamin D supplementation (≥800 IU daily) was somewhat favorable in the management of depression in studies that demonstrate a change in vitamin levels.  Because most adults spend the majority of their time inside, our summers are fairly brief in the northern hemisphere, and the liberal use of sunscreens block the ultraviolet rays from the sun that convert vitamin D to its active form, a daily supplement of vitamin D-3 of 800 to 1,000 IU may be a useful strategy for helping to maintain a good mood.

Choline – Choline, found most prominently in egg yolks, has been shown to be significantly lacking in the diets of Americans. Choline, a B vitamin, is half of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which acts every time we think or move. Choline is half of the phospholipid, phosphotidylcholine, which is required for the creation of channels in the brain cell membrane to allow nutrients into and toxins out of brain cells. Low choline levels have been associated with increasing incidence of anxiety in one study, and may also be linked to depression.

Because there is no association between egg yolks consumption and blood cholesterol levels, the most efficient way to add choline back to the diet is to eat one to two whole eggs per day. That strategy alone will increase choline consumption by 50 percent.

A Plant-rich Diet – The brain is a highly metabolic organ, and research is beginning to indicate that many of the phytochemicals in plants act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, protecting brain cells from injury and reducing inflammation. These actions have the potential to promote memory, learning and cognitive function. Fruits and beverages such as tea, red wine, cocoa and coffee are major dietary sources of polyphenols, which have been identified as having potent neuroprotective actions. A specialized group of polyphenols, the flavonoids, are found in a variety of foods and beverages, including parsley, celery, citrus fruits, oregano, wine, soy and soy products, onions, leeks, broccoli, green tea, red wine and chocolate. Another group of polyphenols come from berries, kiwis, plums and apples. A fourth type comes from grapes, wine and peanuts.

As you can see, eating a diet rich in a full variety of plant foods will support the kind of nutritional intake that will keep you healthy AND happy, functioning at optimal levels throughout your lifetime.

HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON – STAY ACTIVE.  EAT SENSIBLY. LAUGH A LOT.  SMILE EVERY DAY.