Can You Eat to Reverse Multiple Sclerosis? #concussion

Posted March 25th, 2012 in Concussion Nutrition, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Reprinted with permission of Helen Papaconstantinos from www.insightfulnutrition.ca. I have included it here because of the brain supporting healing benefits of the nutritional support suggested here by Dr. Terry Wahls.

 

If you have a loved one with multiple sclerosis[1], (as I do), you’ll love what this next post is about. It features the inspiring story of Dr. Terry Wahls[2], who reversed her multiple sclerosis after seven years of deterioration — simply by changing her diet. That she did it within 8 months and went on to complete an 18 mile bicycle tour is nothing short of miraculous.  No drug has ever been able to claim the same results. Coming across her story late last year was the best Christmas present ever.

Dr. Wahls is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, where she teaches, and does rounds in a traumatic brain injury clinic. This conventional medical doctor had the courage to step outside the medical paradigm and persisted until she found a way to literally get out of her chair. Initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2000, she went the conventional route and was taking chemotherapy drugs and other immune suppressants in an attempt to slow the disease.

By 2003, Dr Wahls transitioned to ‘Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis’ (the more advanced form), and had to begin using a tilt-recline wheelchair because of weakness in her back muscles. In MS, the immune system becomes sensitized to and attacks proteins in the myelin sheath that protects the axons of the central nervous system.[3]

Like anyone with a degenerative condition, she wanted to forestall further deterioration as long as possible. Because of her medical training, Dr. Wahls knew that research in animal models of disease is often 20 or 30 years ahead of clinical practice.  She stayed up late each night to scour through peer-reviewed research on www.PubMed.gov and read the latest articles on multiple sclerosis research.

She knew that most of the studies were testing drugs which would take years for FDA approval so turned instead to the research on vitamins and supplements important to mitochondrial and brain health. As she continued to research late into the nights, she came across studies showing that over time, the brains of MS patients tended to shrink. This spiked her curiosity and led her to research other diseases that share similar brain shrinkage, namely Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) caused by multiple concussions to the brain).

One thing that was common to all these degenerative conditions was poorly functioning mitochondria.  Mitochondria are like little ‘batteries’ in your cells that manage the energy supply to the cell.  If you forget to feed them the correct foods or nutrients, your cells wither and die.  Muscles shrink, brain volume drops. All the other cells in the body are also compromised.

Getting Better but not Quite There

In doing her research, Dr, Wahls discovered that three nutrients in particular are essential for proper mitochondrial function: 1) animal-based omega-3 fats; 2) Creatine (a compound that is involved in the production of energy in the body); and 3) Coenzyme Q10 – preferably in the ‘reduced’, best-absorbed version known as Ubiquinol. After taking these supplements, her decline slowed somewhat but she was still in a state of declining health.

The Big Change – Getting Nutrients from food

By the fall of 2007, Wahls had an important ‘aha’ moment. She wondered what would happen if she changed her diet so that she was getting these important brain nutrients not from supplements, but from the foods she was eating.  Dr. Wahls wanted to eat all the foods that helped to make myelin – notably B1 (Thiamine), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamin). For her mitochondria to thrive at their peak efficiency she needed B vitamins, sulphur and antioxidants.

To accomplish all of this, she adapted a standard hunter-gatherer diet (basically eating what a caveman would eat) included roots, seeds, nuts, oily fish, grass-fed meats, organ meats and natural iodine from sea weeds. Iodine is good for many things including myelin repair.  She also ate 9 cups of non-starchy vegetables and berries each day (3 cups each of greens, sulphur-containing vegetables, and colourful vegetables).  

In case you are wondering, sulphurous vegetables include kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, onions, chives, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus, etc. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes or grains such as rice were not eaten unless her 9 cups of other vegetables were eaten first.  Tips on eating ‘the Wahls way’ can be found on her website: http://www.terrywahls.com/eating-the-wahls-way?EID=18923451&CID=3395727 You can also purchase Wahl’s  book, Minding my Mitochondria, to find not only research but recipe and menu suggestions.

She called this way of eating ‘Intensive Directed Nutrition’ and it is easy to see why. She soon found she had more energy and felt better. Within 3 months she was able to get out of her wheelchair and walk down the halls at work using one cane. Later, by adding exercise and other therapies she progressively got better.  

Why Cruciferous Vegetables and Sulphur?

Sulphur is responsible for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the human body. Together with antioxidants, sulphur helps the mitochondria to survive. By weight, sulphur is one of the most abundant minerals in the body – the average person contains about 140 grams of it at any one time. Sulphurous vegetables also help with creation of a potent antioxidant – glutathione – which could help prevent further damage to neurotransmitters. Sulfur is also necessary for the synthesis of Taurine, an amino acid needed for proper functioning of the muscles and central nervous system.  

Foods to Avoid

The diet of the typical North American is so poor in nutrients that they do not have the building blocks to feed the mitochondria or to make/repair myelin, a protective covering on nerves that becomes destroyed over time in people with multiple sclerosis.  

It is very important to remove from the diet all refined or pre-packaged foods and Omega 6 oils and fats. You find Omega 6 fatty acids in corn fed meat, corn oil, safflower and vegetable oils, soybean oil, margarines and fried foods. That does not mean that one must remove all fats and oils from the diet however. ‘Healthy fats’ such as fish oils, flax seed oils and extra-virgin coconut and olive oils are encouraged.  

Anything inflammatory and processed must be removed – so no sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, allergens, dairy (including raw dairy), grains, or legumes, including soy beans.  Dairy, grains and legumes, especially, are implicated in auto-immune reactions for people with MS.[4]  Small amounts of high-antioxidant raw cacao beans, and raw honey are allowed occasionally.  Those who cannot manage going grain-free are encouraged to try going gluten-free first, but faster results are expected when the guidelines are strictly followed.

MS and Eggs

Organic, free-range, antibiotic-free eggs (if tolerated), are recommended because they contain choline – which together with inositol – is critical for myelin sheath repair. Synergistically they work to create natural lecithin in the body. Making it this way means that one does not have to rely on soy-derived lecithin.  

Generally, people with autoimmune diseases should not have egg whites due to a problematic protein in the egg white called ‘lysozyme’. Usually it is harmless, but it can bind with some proteins and inhibit trypsin and prevent it from doing its job to digest protein. Some of its compounds can pass through the gut wall and aggravate damaged guts. Avidin, another substance found in egg whites, binds to a B vitamin called Biotin, which is responsible for fatty acid synthesis and blood sugar regulation.  Even when well-cooked, Avidin continued to inhibit Biotin absorption by about 30 percent.  

So how do you know if you are sensitive to egg whites? One way to find out is to eliminate eggs at first and add them back after a few weeks. They may be eaten if there is no reaction to them. The same thing can be tried with tomatoes and eggplants, which cause joint pain in some people. If you find you cannot get your choline from egg yolks, food sources of choline include beef liver (highest source), chicken and turkey, scallops and shrimp, salmon, collard greens, Swiss chard and cauliflower.[5] You will also find choline in sesame and flax seeds. Inositol is found in high amounts in legumes (not allowed in this diet), however you can find it in high amounts in grapefruits, oranges, mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, rutabaga, blackberries, artichokes, okra, kiwi fruit, and nectarines.

How else can you Rebuild Myelin and prevent its Destruction? The term ‘balanced diet’ is the key.   The myelin sheath is composed of about 75 percent fats and cholesterol and the rest is protein[6]. The first building block needed to make myelin is Omega 3 fatty acid, which you get from pure fish oils, wild fish and grass fed meats.  The 3 cups of greens daily provide B vitamins and folate, which you need for your brain to keep it from shrinking.  (Indeed, many people on this diet report marked clear-thinking and removal of the ‘brain fog’ they had earlier).  

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) helps to get energy into the muscles but it also helps with myelin repair. Organ meats – which traditional societies have always eaten – are recommended once a week to get natural cobalamin or B12 into the body. Organic liver is very good for that. Natural iodine from sea vegetables not only helps with myelin repair but would also aids the liver and brain to clear out mercury and other heavy metals from the body.

Bone broths are also recommended daily because they are full of minerals and help to heal any loose ‘tight junctions’ in the gut, which might be contributing to auto-immune reactions generally. Another way to rebuild lost myelin is to submit the muscles to the ‘stress’ of daily exercise – more on this later.

The Use of Fats and Oils with Multiple Sclerosis Unlike others who suggest drastically reducing saturated fats in an MS diet, Wahls is saying that healthy fats –  from cod liver and salmon fish and oils,  walnuts, chia seeds, ghee from a grass-fed, pastured animal, extra virgin olive and coconut oils … and even lard… are fine.  Ghee, or clarified butter, by the way, has had the milk proteins poured off. Keep in mind that you need trace amounts of copper to activate these healthy fats so that they can go to work repairing the myelin. Food sources of copper include dried oregano and thyme, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.  

Cod liver oil is high in vitamin D. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 found that Vitamin D significantly reduced the risk of demyelination. Wahls believes that Vitamin D should be over 50 ng/ml but under 100 ng/ml to obtain the best benefits – lowered risk for autoimmune disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.  How do you know how much you need to get there? Take a test every 1- 3 months and take 4000 IU vitamin D3 daily, or more if needed.  At levels over 150 there is an increased risk of excessive calcium in the blood, hallucinations, psychosis, and kidney damage.

For some unknown reason, the concentration of oleic acid (a type of healthy saturated omega 9 oil found in olive oil and avocados), is lower in the myelin of people with MS.  Oleic acid promotes the production of antioxidants in the body and slows the development of heart disease.  In other myelin-destroying diseases, oleic acid is used to formulate ‘Lorenzo’s oil’, which helps patients with adrenoleukodystrophy.  

Creation of New Neurons and Synapses plus More Energy

With properly functioning mitochondria, Dr. Wahls hoped that her body would also get maximum energy from glucose, a key factor in reducing or eliminating the fatigue so common with MS.  With more energy you can exercise and do more. She also wanted her diet to be high in antioxidant capacity because that would not only increase protection of her neurons but also increase production of neurotrophic factors – a family of proteins responsible for the growth and maturation of new neurons and synapses.[7]

Antioxidants from spices such as turmeric were also added because of the wealth of animal and human studies showing that its curcumin component helps to prevent oxidative damage.[8] Just how curcumin might work to prevent demyelinization remains unclear, but researchers at Vanderbilt University believe it may be interrupting the production of IL-12, a protein that plays a key role in the destruction of the myelin by signaling for the development of neural antigen-specific Th1 cells, immune cells that then launch an attack on the myelin sheath.[9]

A Synergistic Approach: Hitting MS with many things at once With her intensive daily nutrition foundation in place, Dr Wahls continued to do research into additional supplements that might help to feed the mitochondria. Supplements, she points out, can be helpful, but a nutrient-intense diet must always come first.   There is wisdom in this — brightly coloured vegetables and berries may contain beneficial cofactors and compounds not included in supplements which scientists may not discover or name for years, even though they work.

This is what is referred to in research as ‘efficacy’.  It works because it works, and waiting for ‘evidence-based research’ to prove they work is not always helpful since experience tells you there is little risk in eating vegetables and fruits, together with a myriad of benefits.   Today Dr. Wahls uses 200 mg B complex, 200 mg of Coenzyme Q 10, 1 g of Alpha Lipoic Acid, 600 mg of Acetyl L Carnitine, 120 mg of Gingko, 2 g of N Acetyl Cysteine, 2 g of Taurine, 2 g of Glutathione, 200 mg of Resveratrol, and enough Lithium Orotate to yield 13 mg of elemental lithium, on a daily basis.  

Putting it all together By December 2007 she had combined intensive directed nutrition with a program of progressive exercise, electro-stimulation of muscles[10], and daily exercise.   Daily exercise, even for those who cannot walk, is excellent because any ‘stress’ to the muscle causes the body to produce new myelin and development of new neurological pathways. Exercise also leads to decreased production of inflammatory proteins. Various animal experiments have shown that exercise increases ‘neurotrophins’, a family of proteins induce the survival, development and function of neurons.  

The results stunned her physician, her family, and even herself.  Within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour. Instead of becoming dependent on others, Wahls regained the ability to commute to work on her bicycle, and to do her rounds on foot without the need for canes or a wheelchair.

Up from the Chair and Helping Others Grateful to have her energy back, Dr. Wahls has spent the last three years researching, lecturing and speaking about her journey to wellness and shares how others may help themselves with intensive directed nutrition.   Dr Wahls now has enough energy left over to start writing up research grants again.  She has brought together an interdisciplinary team to conduct clinical trials using intensive, directed nutrition and neuromuscular electrical stimulation to combat advanced Parkinson’s disease and both secondary and primary progressive multiple sclerosis. 

This time she is conducting a randomized intervention clinical trial on Nutrition and Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation and Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  You can read about it here: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01381354?term=wahls+sclerosis&rank=1

To help raise awareness and funds for her research and her non-profit foundation, Dr Wahls has recorded many of her public lectures.  Fifty percent of the profits from the sales of the lecture DVDs and audio CDs are used to support clinical nutrition in the area of nutrition, massage, exercise, and neuromuscular stimulation. These resources are available on Dr. Wahl’s website:  http://www.mindingmymitochondria.com/  

In the meantime, here are a few words from Dr. Wahls:  

“There is a lot we can do to restore our health without needing a physician.  Here are ten suggestions for how you can help spread the word.

1. Talk about Minding My Mitochondria on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Tell your friends that you have read this fabulous book that is changing your life.

3. Tell your co-workers the reason you have so much more energy is due to Minding My Mitochondria.

4.  Tell your family that Minding My Mitochondria is changing your life and could change theirs too.

5. Write a review for Amazon.  It is easy.  Just a paragraph, written from the heart, will be fine.

6. Write a review for your local paper.  Or a letter to the editor.

7. Buy the book for a friend or a member of your family whose health you’d like to see improve.

8. Interview Dr. Wahls for your local newsletter, club, or paper.

9. Follow the suggestions Dr. Wahls makes in Minding My Mitochondria.  As you become a healthier, more vibrant you, others will ask what your secret is.

10. When others ask what led to your looking 6 months younger than the last time they saw you, tell them why.  That your mitochondria are healthy again, thanks to Minding My Mitochondria. Be healthier, more vibrant, more energetic.”     


[1] Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, degenerative disease of the nerves in your brain and spinal column, caused through a demyelization process. Myelin is the insulating, waxy substance around the nerves in your central nervous system. When the myelin is damaged by an autoimmune disease or self-destructive process in your body, the function of those nerves deteriorate over time, resulting in a number of symptoms, including:  muscle weakness, imbalance, or loss of coordination, astigmatism and vision loss, and muscle tremors.  
[2] Dr Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Carver’s College of Medicine, where she teaches Internal Medicine. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts, posters and papers and is currently conducting clinical trials on how a nutrient-intensive diet can help to reverse MS symptoms.  
[3] Research has shown that fragments from foreign proteins (i.e., from infectious agents and foods) can activate myelin-sensitive immune cells through cross-reactions.  Many new foreign proteins were introduced into the human environment by the agricultural revolution, 10,000 to 5000 years ago. Some new proteins have crossed over to humans from domesticated animals (e.g. Epstein Barr virus) and from completely new food types such as dairy, grains and legumes. Humans have been around a lot longer than 5,000 years, and our gut flora has not evolved enough or become sophisticated enough to know what to do with some of these grains and legumes.  
[4] The role of lectins and legumes in MS is interesting. According to Dr Loren Cordain PhD, a top nutrition researcher, lectins from grains, legumes and tomatoes may be involved in activation of the myelin-sensitive T cells.  It has been long known that protein fragments derived from various foods such as milk and from gut bacteria can activate myelin-sensitive T cells through molecular mimicry. For this to happen, however, the foreign protein fragments must get across the intestinal barrier. One possible way for this to happen is by way of disrupted cell junctures or a “leaky gut”. Even if one does not have a ‘leaky gut’, various lectins will still attach themselves to various protein fragments in the gut from foods and gut bacteria and then transport themselves across the intestinal barrier by means of the Epidermal Growth Factor receptor. In this way they act like a “Trojan Horse” by bringing the “enemy” past the protection of the gut wall. Epidermal Growth Factor was discovered by Stanley Cohen of Vanderbilt University along with Rita Levi-Montalcini. Both received the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1986.
[5] See: World’s Healthiest Foods: choline. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=50  
[6] Schmidt, Michael A, PhD., Brain Building Nutrition: How dietary fats and oils affect mental, physical, and emotional Intelligence. Frog Books, Colorado, December 2006.  
[7] In the brain these factors are important for learning, long-term memory as well as regeneration and growth of nerves. Studies suggest these brain-derived factors play a protective role against amyloid beta toxicity – a type of plaque that seems to build up in the brain as we get older.
[8] Natarajan C, Bright JJ. Curcumin inhibits experimental allergic encephalomyelitis by blocking IL-12 signaling through Janus kinase-STAT pathway in T lymphocytes. J Immunol 2002;168;6506-6513. Available at: http://www.jimmunol.org/content/168/12/6506.full.pdf Researchers gave injections of 50- and 100-microgram doses of curcumin, three times per week over a period of 30 days, to a group of mice bred to develop the experimental form of MS known as EAE, and then watched the mice for signs of developing MS-like neurological impairment. By day 15, the mice that did not received curcumin developed EAE to such an extent that they developed complete paralysis of both hind limbs. By contrast, the mice given the 50-microgram dose of the curcumin showed only minor symptoms, such as a temporarily stiff tail. Mice given the 100-microgram dose fared best of all; they appeared completely unimpaired throughout the 30 days of the study.
[9] Natarajan C, Bright JJ. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonists inhibit experimental allergic encephalomyelitis by blocking IL-12 production, IL-12 signaling and Th1 differentiation. Genes Immun 2002;3(2):59-70. 2003. Available at: Natarajan C, Bright JJ. Genes Immun. 2002 Apr; 3(2):59-70J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15; 168(12):6506-13. J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15; 168(12):6506-13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11960303.
[10]Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation involves the application of electrodes and electrical input to various muscle groups over the body with goal of strengthening the muscles. The technique was pioneered in the Soviet Union to improve athletic performance and is still commonly used by athletes, especially for healing muscle damage. Today portable NEMS machines are available and it is a do-it-yourself therapy.

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Malnourished Minds: The Link between Nutrition and Depression #concussion

Posted March 25th, 2012 in Concussion Nutrition, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Reprinted with permission of Helen Papaconstantinos from www.insightfulnutrition.ca. My reason for including it here is that many of my clients with post-concussive syndrome exhibit severe depression symptoms and this information can support them.

Originally published on October 29, 2011.

Dr. James Greenblatt

Last night at the University of Toronto’s medical sciences auditorium, I attended a lecture entitled, Malnourished Minds: The Link between Nutrition and Depression, presented by Psychiatrist James M. Greenblatt, MD, based on his book, The Breakthrough Depression Solution available through the following on-line book sellers, as well as Dr. Greenblatt’s websites: http://www.comprehensivepsychiatricresources.com and http://www.jamesgreenblattmd.com.

The event was organized through the Canadian Orthomolecular Medicine Society http://www.orthomed.org/csom/csom.html and the International Schizophrenia Foundation http://www.orthomed.org/isf/isfbrochure.html .

Dr Greenblatt is a dually certified child and adult psychiatrist and pioneer in integrative medicine. He is the Founder and Medical Director of Comprehensive Psychiatric Resources (CPR), an integrative medical practice that uses a biologically-based approach to treat mental health disorder such eating disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, ADHD, and depression.

His Integrative Psychiatry approach addresses all of the factors that may incline an individual towards depression – genetics, nutrition deficiencies/excesses, and levels of stress. Where needed, he uses technology (rEEG) to ensure that medications and treatment are targeted towards individual biochemistry.  His nutrition-based approach often reduces his patient’s use of medication and minimizes drug side-effects.

By identifying and addressing all the factors that contribute to depression, his experience has been that depression can be successfully treated, and the patient is less likely to relapse. As a young psychology undergraduate, decades ago, I had worked in clinical, classroom and group-home settings with young individuals who were on psychiatric medication for various disorders.  How I wish we had this information way back then. 

Why is this topic important? Why should we care? By 2020, depression is expected to be the leading cause of disability worldwide, second only to heart disease.  And despite the dozens of antidepressants on the market, millions of people who seek treatment for depression fail to find relief from their symptoms. According to Greenblatt, standard treatment for depression successfully eliminates symptoms in only 33% of patients.  In about 70% of cases, the symptoms recur.  

Depression disrupts the lives of tens of millions of people is North America – women in particular. It is a leading cause of work disability. Each year in Canada, about 12% of the adult population has a diagnosable (i.e., clinically significant) mental disorder, with major depression being the most common. The costs – for medical care, lost work time, and loss of life – range in the region of $40 billion dollar annually, although one can never put a price on life. People who suffer from depression have much higher rates than average for various types of diseases, from heart ailments to alcoholism. Doctors estimate that as many as 8 million women and 4 million men in the United States are treated for clinical depression every year. 

But could a simple blood test change all that?

Research has shown that an over-accumulation of homocysteine, (whether due to a deficiency in folate, B12, B6, or zinc), can lead to depression.  In this way, testing for levels of homocysteine in the blood could be a very useful form of objective testing.  It is about time because depression is one of the many psychiatric disorders that lack objective testing for diagnosis and treatment.  Because of this, psychiatry is often referred to as a “measureless medicine.”    

Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid that is quickly converted to another amino acid called cysteine. If conversion of homocysteine to cysteine is somehow impaired, homocysteine levels rise and become harmful. Too much homocysteine may increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, free radical activity, and depression.

Several important, mood associated vitamins and minerals (folate, vitamins B12 and B6, and zinc) are responsible for the conversion of homocysteine into the non-harmful cysteine.  Therefore, deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to an accumulation of homocysteine.  

So elevated homocysteine levels can indicate early stage deficiency of folate or vitamins B6 or B12 before blood levels can detect deficiency! This means that checking homocysteine levels in the body is very important if you wish to maintain health.

Not so strangely, many drugs can cause Folate Deficiency States (and therefore lead to high homocystein, inflammation and Depression). Anti-depression drugs are among them:

  • Anticonvulsants (phenytoin, primidone, Phenobarbital, carbamezepine)
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Sulfsalazine
  • Methhotrexate
  • Triamterene
  • Pyremethamine
  • Trimethoprim
  • Alcohol
  • Antacids
  • Metformin

Amazingly, the brain knows and the gut, knows how to make its own antidepressants (for example, serotonin), given the right conditions. If that is true, what causes neurotransmitter deficiencies, dysfunction, and depression?  Integrative Psychiatry sees these anomalies as linked to many factors:

  • Genetics
  • Diet – for instance, junk food, caffeine and nicotine can lead to hypoglycaemia or not enough glucose/fuel supply to brain.
  • Stress – it was noticed that women were 2X as likely as men to be clinically depressed.
  • Neurotoxins – brain allergies, molds, fungi, yeast, candida, airborn chemicals, sugars, caffeine.
  • Inflammation – bad fats, refined sugars and carbohydrates, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.

 Taken altogether, genes, poor diet, stress, neurotoxins and inflammation can lead not only to depression, but suppression of the immune system.

Fortunately, Dr. Greenblatt has reintroduced a biological orthomolecular framework for the understanding, treatment and prevention of Mood Disorders. He summarizes his personalized treatment approach as THE ZEEBRA approach, an easy mnemomic that covers each of the critical factors that should be addressed in the diagnosis and treatment of depression. It’s so simple that it’s elegant.

T– Take care of yourself – Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and choosing activities that help lower stress and promote well-being are important steps to recovering from depression.

H– Hormones – Correcting hormone imbalances can often relieve depression.

E– Exclude – Exclude certain foods from the diet as problems associated with digesting these foods, such as wheat and dairy, can exacerbate depressed moods.

 

Z – Zinc and Other Minerals – Ensure adequate zinc and mineral levels; insufficient zinc is a frequent culprit in depression.

E – Essential Fatty Acids – Monitoring essential fatty acid and cholesterol levels are important to cardiovascular and mental health as low levels of these substances are often implicated in depression.

E – Exercise – Participating in exercise is known to combat depression on multiple levels.

B – B vitamins and Other Vitamins – Restoring vitamin levels to their optimal range can reduce symptoms of depression.

R – rEEG—This means ‘references EEG, which is a way of measuring brain activity much in the way an EKG might measure the activity level of your heart. If psychiatric medications are needed, rEEG can guide medication selection and eliminate trial-and-error prescribing.

A – Amino Acids and Protein

Let’s look at this again, in more detail:

Depression and THE ZEEBRA

 T – Take Care of Yourself

  • 5 Blood Tests are needed if you suffer from depression : 1) Homocystein, 2) B12 & Folate, 3)Total Cholesterol, 4) Celiac Screen, and 5) Thyroid (free T3 and T4)
    • Hundreds of studies support the relationship between folate and depression.
    • NB: Low folate is associated with increased incidence of depression.
    • With low folate, there is a poor response to antidepressant medications and higher relapse rate.
    • Celiac disease is associated with depression (2X higher rate) due to problems with nutrient absorption. (Ludvigsson JF, et al , 2007).
    • Exercise: Regular exercise may work as well as medication in improving symptoms of major depression.

 H – Hormones:

  • The brain is a cholesterol-rich organ and cholesterol is an important hormone as it is involved in the synthesis of all steroid hormones.  Don’t be afraid to eat eggs! You can have a couple a day, especially if the yolks are soft-cooked.
  • You need cholesterol for serotonin (a feel-good chemical in your brain) to work optimally.
  • Cholesterol activates oxytocin (your cuddle and bonding hormones)
  • It is needed to make bile so that you can digest fat and absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • You need cholesterol to make vitamin D, which is responsible for turning on or off many of the functions in your body.

E – Exclude:

  • Food Allergies – make an appointment with an allergist of immunologist specializing in allergies to find out what you are sensitive to so that you can avoid them and the inflammation and dietary malabsorption that allergens bring.
  • Sugar – the higher your sugar intake, the higher your blood lactate levels become.
    • Lactic Acid binds with calcium, so less of this mineral is available to keep your brain from spiralling into excitement mode.  Sugar, caffeine and alcohol all increase the lactate to pyruvate ratio in the body, resulting in anxiety.  
  • Vitamin Deficiencies – For optimal neurotransmitter synthesis, you need adequate folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and vitamin B3 (Niacin) among other nutrients.  
  • Mineral Deficiencies –A deficiency in say, magnesium, may manifest different symptoms, based on one’s own unique biochemistry and genes. In one person, a magnesium deficiency may manifest as irritability and depression, whereas in another person it may manifest as insomnia and anxiety. More on this below.
  • Amino Acid Deficiencies – Amino acids create sanity and well-being.
    • Amino Acids convert to brain neurotransmitters, which help it to function, have memory, emotions, thoughts, feelings, control depression, sleep, create energy and excitement.
    • You get amino acids from protein.
  • Heavy Metals –Vanadium toxicity can cause manic depression and melancholy.  
    • Taking high-dose vitamin C (ascorbate) reduces damage from excess vanadium. Studies in the Lancet and British J of Psychiatry show that levels of vitamin C in bipolar patients are so low as to indicate actual or borderline scurvy.
  • Toxins – these can be environmental, viral, or toxins produced in the body when you eat foods that you are allergic to.

 Ok, here’s the ZEEBRA, next:

 Z – Zinc and other minerals:

  • Zinc – depletion leads to apathy and lethargy
  • Magnesium – in terms of mood disorders, magnesium deficiency may result in depression, anxiety, irritability or depression.
  • Iron –chronic deficiency can lead to depression, weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and headaches.
  • Copper – usually a copper dominance can lead to problems. Zinc should be in a higher ratio to zinc. Watch that your house does not have copper pipes.
  • Manganese – you need it for proper use of vitamin C and all the B vitamins, and to make folic acid.
    • Manganese also helps to stabilize blood sugars and prevents hypoglycaemic mood swings.
    • Potassium – depletion is frequently associated with depression, fearfulness, and fatigue. A 1981 study found patients low in potassium were more likely to be depressed than those who were not deficient in potassium.

E – Essential Fatty Acids:

  • EPA and DHA (found in fish oils), help to lift mood and address inflammation in the body, which is also linked to depression.
  • Flax seed oil does not convert well into EPA or DHA.
  • Can get vegetarian (Algae-sourced) EPA and DHA but it is not as strong.
  • Body clues to low Omega 3:
    • Dry Skin, dandruff, frequent urination, irritability, depression, attention-deficit disorder, soft nails, allergies, lowered immunity, fatigue, lethargy, dry, unmanageable hair, excessive thirst, brittle, easily frayed nails, hyperactivity, ‘chicken-skin’ on back of arms, dry eyes, learning problems, poor wound healing, frequent infections, patches of pale skin on cheeks, cracked skin on heels or fingertips, aggressiveness.
    • Add fish to diet (especially cold-water fish like mercury and PCB-free salmon, mackerel, sardines) to diet, several times weekly.
    • Use butter and coconut oil for cooking and olive oil, flax, and borage oils for sprinkling over food.
    • Read food labels carefully and avoid all trans-fats and hydrogenated oils, including margarine.
    • Eliminate sugar – it creates inflammation and your EFAs are used up to put the fire out.
    • Take daily capsules of cold-water marine fish oil.

 E – Exercise:

  • Exercise boosts your circulation as well as your mood and production of serotonin, your ‘feel-good neurotransmitter (brain-chemical).

B- B vitamins, Folate, Vitamin D, and C:

  • Know that when you eat sugar, you are using your B-vitamins to metabolize the sugar. It is a no-win trade off. (Matthews-Larson,  PhD, Random House Pub. Group, New York, 1999, p. 158.)
  • Your emotional stability depends on a protein snack, not a Twinkie. (ibid)
  • Low B12is associated with fatigue, panic disorders, anxiety, OCD, Depression and Paranoia
    • Other symptoms of B12 deficiency include pernicious anaemia, confused mental state, tingling or numb feeling in hands and feet, sore mouth/ swollen red tongue, pallor, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, memory loss, cessation of menstruation, and fatigue.
    • Low B1 (thiamine) deficiency results in mental confusion, apathy, depression, fatigue and  increased sensitivity to noise. (ibid, p. 157)
    • Low B2 (riboflavin) deficiency causes nervous system changes and an inability to convert food into energy.(ibid)
    • B6 (pyroxidine) deficiency is the main culprit in neuropathy (needles and pins feeling) (ibid)
    • Low Folic Acid/Folate causes deterioration of the nervous system, withdrawal and irritability. It also makes it more likely that you will relapse on your anti-depression drugs.
    • Inositol has similar effects to the tranquilizer Librium. (1980s studies at Princeton Brain Bio Centre showed that brain waves were similar to those of Librium). (ibid, 157)
      • In 1996 Israeli researchers discovered that Inositol converts into a substance that regulated serotonin. (ibid, p. 158).
      • It has been used with OCD and panic disorder. At 18 grams/day it worked as well and as quickly as quickly as Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, and Luvox but without drug side effects.
      • Mental: Irritability, Apathy, Personality Changes, Depression, Memory Loss, Dementia, Hallucination, Violent behaviour, Anxiety
      • Physical: Diminished sense of touch and pain, clumsiness, weakness, pernicious anaemia, chronic fatigue, tremors, Gastro-Intestinal problems

r- Referenced –rEEG

Physicians report significantly reduced trial and error medication selection after using rEEG data.

Referenced-EEG is an objective, physiologically-based measure that helps psychiatrists make better prescribing decisions. rEEG measures electrical brain activity similar to the way that an EKG measures electrical activity in your heart. EEGs have been used for many years to help neurologists treat seizures and other neurological disorders. Now they are being used in psychiatry. Research has shown that although patients may have similar symptoms, they often have very different abnormalities in their EEG signal, and so would require a more individualized approach.  

A – Amino Acids and Protein

  • You need protein and fats to make the neurotransmitter ‘precursors’ that make serotonin (happiness hormone) and Norepinephrine helps to make Tyrosine (helps you focus), and Phenylalanine (helps you to feel calm).
  • BUT, you need stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) in order to break down protein properly.
  • If you are taking antacid medication, or medication for acid reflux, you can’t break down protein adequately.
  • Stomach acid  helps you to:
    • Break down protein
    • Absorb minerals
    • Absorb B12
    • Resist infection
    • Communicate to the brain that you already feel full and can stop eating (satiety)
    •  If you can break down protein, it is easier to get adequate Tryptophan, an amino acid which helps you to increase serotonin in the brain.
    • About 70% of serotonin is produced in your gut.
    • Serotonin helps make 5-HTP and Tryptophan

What Can You Do Today to Make Tomorrow Healthy?

Posted March 21st, 2012 in Nutrition Articles, Organic Food by Rebecca Lane

I was recently asked to speak at a Women’s Circle about three things that I think are most important to change from a nutritional perspective and I’ve outlined them below. As far as I’m concerned, the foundation of health and treatment of any health concerns revolves around three basic factors: nutrition [steps 1 and 2], elimination of toxins (nutritional [step 3], emotional [stress] and environmental) and exercise. If I could add anything more to my talk, I would have spoken on the importance of daily exercise and creating a daily meditation practice.

Step 1: Increase your daily water intake

Many common health complaints actually stem from chronic dehydration. The most common symptoms include thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine, headaches and fatigue. Other, less know symptoms of dehydration, can include:

  • Digestive disturbances such as heartburn and constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Muscle cramps
  • High cholesterol
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Kidney problems

What kind of water should I drink?

  • Tap water – From the tap, the Town of Newmarket has its water provided by the Region of York and is treated through chloramination (adding chlorine and ammonia). Visit (http://www.newmarket.ca/en/townhall/resourcelibrary/2011WaterQualityReport-Jan202012.pdf) for the full recent report of the contents of Newmarket’s water. Our water is alkaline (avg 8.1 – where neutral is between 6.5 and 7.5) and in addition to the chlorine and ammonia, contains many other chemicals.
  • Bottled water – If you choose instead to drink bottled water, you might want to know that 40% of bottled water is actually bottled tap water! What’s also concerning is that the plastic in the bottles contain a chemical called bisphenol A, a synthetic hormone disruptor that has been linked to serious health problems.  When consumed, the plastic bottles themselves place a huge burden on our landfill.
  • Filtered water – The water in our home is filtered since that’s the most economical and environmentally sound choice. There are three main different types of filters: Reverse Osmosis, Ion Exchange and Carbon Filtration. There’s lots of information available on the benefits of each.
  • Living water – The ideal pH balance of your water should be between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neutral. Distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline (causing problems with low stomach acid pH). Spring water is in this ideal range. It is some of the healthiest water on the planet because it is “living water”. Living water, like living food is in its raw, natural state the way nature intended. We have unlimited access to a free spring located in Mount Albert – here’s the link http://www.findaspring.com/mount-alberts-communal-spring-mount-albert-ontario-canada/. The water is slightly sulphurous and a little murky but tastes delicious

How much water should I drink?

So, how much pure filtered or spring water should you drink per day? One litre? Two?

Here’s a good rule of thumb to determine proper hydration levels: Drink enough water to turn your urine a light-coloured yellow – no odour and very little colour!

Step 2: Increase the amount of veggies and fruit in your diet

Researchers have found that individuals with a high daily intake of vegetables and fruits (about 400 grams per day) demonstrate higher antioxidant levels, lower indicators of free radical-induced damage, and better cognitive performance. Notice that I mention vegetables first because they are FAR more important than fruits.

This ‘high daily intake’ really isn’t much – 400 grams – that’s approximately 4-5 servings of vegetables and fruit. A cup of shredded lettuce, for instance, will weigh about 55 grams. A cup of diced pineapple will weigh about 155 grams.

In my mind the main reason why eating raw, organic vegetables is important is because these “living foods” contain biophotons, small units of light stored by all organic organisms. Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these biophotons. They contain important bio-information, which controls complex vital processes in your body. When you take this vital energy into your body, you are re-charging it with health and encouraging it to return to a whole and balanced state.

Dr. Oz recently did a show that discussed Biophotonic scanning, a testing form that determines the amount of Biophotonic ability of cells (via measuring the level of carotenoids in the skin) – watch the video: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/cancer-fighting-antioxidants-pt-1.

With a bit of planning, it’s relatively easy to get plenty of fresh vegetables into your diet. You can snack on celery filled with raw almond butter, nibble on asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, sweet potato rounds, cherry tomatoes or red peppers dipped in hummus made from chick peas, and add leafy greens like spinach and kale to any meal. In the mornings, I make one huge salad for my whole family to take for our lunches. That way I know that between that and whatever fruit I send with them they are getting at least 2 servings of vegetables and fruit for lunch.  And I top my salads with herbs (like parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, peppermint) and sprouts like broccoli and sunflower seed – they add a huge micronutrient burst as well as great flavour.

Other vegetables, like zucchini and turnips, are mild tasting and can be blended into soups and sauces and you’ll never even know they’re there. Grated carrots and lentils can be completely hidden in a tomato sauce that’s delicious over spaghetti squash, or even your favourite rice pasta.

Probably the easiest way to increase your vegetable intake is to juice your vegetables. Fresh, organic, raw vegetable juice is easily digestible by the body and doesn’t damage either the micronutrients or the biophotons. I usually add a source of fat like flax oil or walnut oil to my juice to make it more filling. You may also find that adding some, or even all, of the vegetable pulp into your juice helps to make drinking the juiced vegetables more satisfying. I don’t have a juicer, so will process my veggies and fruits in the blender with some filtered water then filter some of the pulp out with a strainer or cheese cloth. Try adding ginger and lemon too.

Whatever method you choose, juiced or whole, raw or cooked, add at least one more serving of veggies and one of fruit to your meals today.

Step 3: Reduce your sugar, processed foods and grain carbohydrates intake

65% of Americans are overweight and 27% clinically obese. Most of the chronic disease that we see rampant in today’s society is the result of a diet that focuses heavily on sugar and grains. Processed foods are a key cause of the problem. We are addicted to a fast-paced life where hamburgers, fries and a soft drink are a regular meal choice. Not only are they full of preservatives and chemical agents, but they are also full of sugars and starch.

Consuming sugar throws off the body’s equilibrium and cause a variety of harmful metabolic consequences. Some of the most harmful include: suppressing your immune system; feeding cancer cells; causing heightened levels of glucose leading to reactive hypoglycaemia and potentially diabetes, producing a significant rise in bad cholesterol and causing a rapid rise in adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.

Grains, even whole unprocessed organic grains, are rapidly broken down by the body and drive insulin and leptin levels up. Spikes of insulin and leptin cause cravings and surges then quick drops in energy that make it difficult for our body to remain in balance.

Any meal or snack high in starchy carbohydrates generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers the blood glucose level. Insulin is, though, essentially a storage hormone, developed over millions of years to store the excess calories from carbohydrates in the form of fat in case of famine. With no famine, fortunately, in sight, this storage mechanism has become an important cause of bulging stomachs and fat rolls in thighs and chins. Making matters even worse, high insulin levels suppress two other important hormones — glucagons and growth hormones — that are responsible for burning fat and sugar and promoting muscle development, respectively.

So, take a hard look at what you’re eating meal by meal. Look at making changes that take your meal decisions away from boxed and packaged foods, and move you over to the fresh produce aisle. Fresh produce is much less expensive not only today, but for the health of your tomorrows.

(Written with research from http://www.mercola.com various articles)