Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Foods That Fight Depression

"Carbohydrates-sugars and starches-are essential, too.  To enter the bloodstream, starches and sugars must be broken down to glucose, a simple form of sugar.  Our body extracts glucose not only from sweets such as candy and cake, but also from starchy foods such as grains and beans.  Glucose is the body's main fuel.  Without glucose, we couldn't move and we couldn't think.  Our cells, particularly our brain cell cells, require a constant supply simply to maintain life."  

--from DIABESITY: The Obesity-Diabetes Epidemic That Threatens America-And What We Must Do to Stop It by Francine R. Kaufman, M.D., Past President, American Diabetes Association

My fascination with Alzheimer’s keeps growing, as does the epidemic.  There is a distinct connection between Alzheimer’s and diabetes.  Alzheimer’s and depression are also closely connected.  People with diabetes are at higher risk for depression than people without diabetes.  Depression and childhood obesity are intricately connected.  If we truly care about the present and future health of America’s children, we must learn from the emerging lessons from the Alzheimer’s epidemic.
Can foods fight depression?  What foods promote good moods?  Why, in this joyous month sandwiched between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, should we be concerned about depression?

Depression is more prevalent at the holiday time than other times of the year.  This is also the time of the year when we are eating foods high in added sugars and refined grains.  Please pass the Christmas cookies... 

Here are seven tips to promote good moods:
  • Limit foods containing added sugars. Starting in January, eliminate them. Start right now by eliminating foods containing high fructose corn syrup from what you are eating and drinking.
  • Stop buying sodas for you and your kids.  Drink water.
  • Eat green vegetables every day.  This week I am making arugula pesto using organic arugula from my local farmer to enjoy with some gluten-free pasta for a delicious, spicy holiday meal.  On tap this week, besides the arugula pesto, are meals planned around broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale. 
  • Start cooking with turmeric.  Where I live, I am lucky to be able to get locally grown, organic turmeric.  I use it regularly with sautéed vegetables (HINT: always use gloves when you grate or microplane it or else you will have orange fingers the next day, trust me, I know).  If you can’t get fresh, then use dried turmeric.  Turmeric is the ingredient that gives curry its vibrant, golden color.  It is a cousin of ginger (they look the same outside, but when you cut the turmeric root, it is bright orange, whereas ginger is a whiter shade of pale).  This is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods we can eat. 
  • A little coffee is excellent for promoting good moods.  A lot of coffee, however, can interfere with your sleep, especially if you drink it 8 or 9 hours before going to sleep. 
  • Get enough sleep.   This is essential for promoting good moods and preventing depression.
  • Eat something every 3-4 hours.  Eating every couple of hours may be one of the most important things we can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.