Depression Improved with Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Depression Improved with Diet and Lifestyle Changes

A True Story

Today I met with a patient whose 17-year old son had been diagnosed with depression. When we’d last met, his son had been seen by a psychiatrist who determined from a short visit that he required treatment with an antidepressant. As none of the SSRI drugs ultimately worked, it was next decided to give tricyclics a try.

They were unsatisfactory as well and so atypical antipsychotics were begun.

On that regime, the son rapidly gained 45 pounds! These are very toxic drugs! And to make matters worse, he didn’t improve! And on that note, I happened to meet with my friend, the Dad.

I informed him that much data exists that depression can greatly be improved with the implementation of a healthy, plant-based diet and lifestyle changes. I recommended that his life activities be scheduled and adhered to every day.

The boy was sent to a wilderness camp for 2 months and he was weaned off the meds. He lost over 40 pounds and began to feel energy and joy again. He ate “real” food and hiked miles each day, in beautiful nature.

Back home again, he has continued to exercise daily and avoids all processed foods and sugars. He watches little television and isn’t on the computer too much. He’s doing well in school, has lost another 5 pounds, and has a fabulous relationship with his dad.

Yes … the brain needs proper care and nurturing!! Give it sunlight, proper nourishment, exercise, a loving environment with purpose … and it will thrive!! The epidemic of psychiatric illness is greatly impacted by our awful lifestyles, chemical food devoid of nutrients, sedentary existences, lack of human contact, a world of electrical devices, and poor sleep! These are modifiable factors and once things are placed in the right … the brain can recover!

This story so resonated with me that I felt the need to share it with you! This applies to children and adults with ADHD as well. Mental health isn’t an option to having a good life – it is life itself!

The Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

The Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are available all over the world, and if you only eat these delicious root vegetables when they’ve been baked until they are virtually unrecognizable, then you are missing out on one of nature’s greatest nutritional gifts. They are not only rich in a vast range of nutrients, but they are also one of the best natural ways to regulate your blood sugar levels, making them an exceptionally beneficial food for diabetics. It also helps that they are absolutely scrumptious, and their sweet flavor is completely unlike any other found in the vegetable world. Indeed, sweet potatoes are so versatile that they’re sure to liven up a whole range of dishes, even desserts!

Selecting and Storing Sweet Potatoes

There are different varieties of sweet potato, and many come in different colorings and hues. Here are some tips for selecting, storing and preparing the vegetable, so that you can benefit from as much goodness as possible.

  1. Choose the darker variety of sweet potato at the grocery store if possible, because they have the higher carotene content, essential for the production of vitamin A. Purple sweet potatoes, more commonly found in Asia, are also a great source of nutrients. Paler varieties are healthy but don’t offer quite the same number of benefits as darker types, and many people often confuse them with yams.
  2. Avoid wrinkly, soft sweet potatoes and take time to select ones with good, firm flesh. If there are signs of green discoloring, then leave them alone.
  3. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place. Do not leave them in plastic bags, or keep them in the fridge. Consume within 7-10 days of purchase.
  4. Prepare sweet potatoes in the same way you would prepare normal white potatoes. However, bear in mind that the skin contains a large percentage of the nutrients, so try to leave it on if possible. You can make fantastic sweet potato fries by leaving the skin on, and chopping the vegetable into strips.
  5. You can steam, bake, boil or roast sweet potatoes, and still benefit from plenty of nutrients. But as with any vegetable preparation, try not to over-cook them.

Specific Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Although they are soft, creamy and sweet enough to be used in some desserts, sweet potatoes offer a surprisingly huge range of nutritional benefits, many of which have specific health benefits.

1. Great for Heart HealthSpecific Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

The high levels of vitamin B6 and potassium found in sweet potatoes provide excellent benefits for your heart. B6 vitamins break down homocysteine, a substance which can harden blood vessels and block arteries. Potassium, meanwhile, helps balance fluid and blood pressure levels, while providing your body’s cells with electrolytes that help regulate your heart beat.

2. Great Source of Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes contain a huge amount of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that gives certain vegetables their orange color. The body can turn carotenoids into vitamin A, which is linked to cancer prevention, the maintenance of good vision, and also provides a number of anti-ageing benefits. Indeed, one large sweet potato is capable of providing 100% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

3. Great for Blood Sugar Levels

Although they are sweet tasting, sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index, which means they are a very good blood sugar regulator. Many starchy foods, including white potatoes, encourage blood sugar levels to spike and rise rapidly, but sweet potatoes release sugar into the bloodstream much more slowly. This makes them a great choice for diabetics, who can safely consume the carbohydrates without associated problems.

4. Great for Skin Care

Sweet potatoes can work to improve the appearance of your skin from both inside and outside your body. The high levels of vitamin C and E contained within sweet potatoes helps boost the body’s defenses against the sun’s harmful UV rays and encourages the production of collagen, which keeps the skin strong and supple.

But it isn’t only the consumption of sweet potatoes that can benefit your skin. If you boil them, don’t throw away the water afterwards. Take a cup and use your fingers to gently apply the water to your face. This can help clean your pores, remove impurities from the skin and even reduce dark circles around your eyes.

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

5. Great for Digestion

Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, while still being low in calorie content. Fiber promotes a healthy digestive tract, helping your body pass toxins and waste products out quickly and efficiently while guarding against constipation and bloatedness.

6. Great for Emphysema Prevention

Emphysema is a condition that gradually damages the air sacs in the lungs, leaving sufferers short of breath. It is often associated with smokers, or people exposed to smoking on a regular basis.  Smoking reduces levels of vitamin A, which helps regenerate the cells in the lungs. The beta-carotene contained within sweet potatoes encourages the production of vitamin A and helps heal the respiratory system.

7. Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals

Sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of vitamins C, E, B5, B6, riboflavin and copper. These nutrients offer a range of benefits for your immune system, red blood cell production, sleep patterns, mood, wound repair, disease prevention, muscle weakness and pain.

8. Great for Stress Relief

Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of magnesium, often considered to be one of the best minerals for promoting relaxation, calmness and improved mood. As we already know, they are also rich in potassium, which helps regulate your heart beat when you are anxious or stressed.

How your gut health impacts your overall health

How Your Gut Health Impacts Your Overall Health

A healthy gut impacts your overall health.

The gut microbiome is highly responsive to diet, and impacts every aspect of physiology from digestion to endocrine function.

In this video webinar for Pure Encapsulations, Dr. Felice L. Gersh discusses the clinical connections between the gut microbiome and women’s health, with a focus on nutritional support for ovarian function and metabolic homeostasis.*

Watch the video and learn:

  • Recognize gut health as a common barrier to successful interventions in women’s health care
  • Review important facts about the gut microbiome and its role in reproductive function and hormonal balance in women
  • Recognize food as both a hormone and a microbiome modifier that influences reproductive health
  • Understand the impact of meal timing on a woman’s microbiome and endocrine system
  • Learn how to support endocrine, ovarian and metabolic health using a nutritional approach that starts with the gut*

Watch the video and get great tips from Dr Gersh on how to eat right for optimal health!

Should we remove Fallopian tubes as a cancer preventative

Should We Remove Fallopian Tubes as a Cancer Preventative?

This is an interesting topic – the prophylactic removal of body structures to hopefully lower cancer incidence and mortality.

Removal of the Fallopian tubes has recently become a big topic of discussion in GYN circles as there is recent data showing that by doing so the risk of the development of ovarian cancer, rare but often deadly, appears to be reduced. The Fallopian tubes are now being removed at the time of a hysterectomy for benign disease, but it is now also being brought up that they can be removed as a sterilization procedure in place of a tubal ligation. As well, that the tubes could be removed in any woman no longer wishing fertility at the time of any elective or non-emergency abdominal surgery.

It does, however, make me think of the innumerable removals of the appendix, long believed to be a pointless structure and the source of major mortality and morbidity when appendicitis occurs. Now it turns out that the appendix is an important part of the gut immune system and the microbiome and the incidence of colon cancer is dramatically higher if the appendix is removed.

Perhaps Fallopian tubes are also important in ways not yet understood. Nothing can be assumed to have one purpose. Nothing is quite as straightforward to me as it once was. The human body is clearly filled with innumerable mysteries!! We think we know it all – we know next to nothing!! Still, we must take action based on the knowledge we have.

What is the best path to healthy longevity? We are still searching, but perhaps removing those innocent appearing Fallopian tubes is part of the answer … but do proceed with caution!!
Meanwhile … I will stay on high alert!

Reference: http://contemporaryobgyn.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-obgyn/news/bilateral-salpingectomy-opportunity-reduce-cancer-risk?cfcache=true&GUID=5A4D36F2-37DE-43EF-A7BD-C51DBC2D9045&rememberme=1&ts=29052017

Antidepressants May Increase Birth Defects

Antidepressants May Increase Birth Defects

When I was seeing large numbers of pregnant women, I was told to do many things, because they were safe and beneficial.

Reality check – they were not!!

For example, I was told I could give Acetaminophen and now we know it can cause deformities of male genitalia. Years ago it was encouraged to give diethylstilbesterol to lower miscarriage risk and it did not do that but it sometimes caused a potentially fatal vaginal cancer in girl offspring and devastating deformities.

As well, I was told it was perfectly safe to give the type of antidepressants known as SSRIs. This category of drug includes such medications as Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft, Paxil, and others. A growing list of ills is now recognized as coming from the use of this drug class in pregnancy, including heart defects of the baby!! Of course this prescribing of drugs to pregnant women, except in life-saving situations, must stop! There are safer and more natural ways to help depressed women who are pregnant.

Now I’m very worried about the rampant prescribing of the ubiquitous drug Metformin for pregnant women with prediabetes, diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Environmental research has shown that Metformin is an endocrine disruptor!! When it gets into lakes and rivers, and it sadly often does from released water from treatment plants (which can’t remove pharmaceuticals from the water) it actually can alter the genitalia of the fish!

Sometimes I feel I’m the only OB/GYN who sees and cares about medications given to pregnant women. Why do so many respected doctors think that giving potentially harmful drugs is the only way to treat pregnant women with problems?

We must sound the alarm that as pregnancy is the most critical time in the life of the developing person … we must respect’s its needs for a pristine environment so as to enable the new life to reach his/her true potential.

Reference: https://www.medpagetoday.com/OBGYN/Pregnancy/65380?xid=nl_mpt_cardiodaily_2017-05-25&eun=g407528d0r

Heart Health and Pregnancy

Heart Health and Pregnancy

Women who have the fewest number of reproductive years during their lives have a higher than normal risk of heart failure, according to a new research article published by the American College of Cardiology.  As well, women who never gave birth are also at an increased risk for heart failure.

It was also discovered that women who never gave birth had a higher incidence of a heart condition called mild diastolic dysfunction.

In those with this condition, the heart isn’t very good at the relaxation phase. It is actually stiffer than a normal heart would be and so cannot properly relax to allow appropriate filling with blood. With diastolic dysfunction, the heart is simply not performing in an optimal state. This is actually a sign of energy deficiency – the first step to developing overt and potentially deadly and disabling heart failure!

Why does this happen? The reason is obvious to me, though less clear to most!

It revolves around estrogen!!

Estrogen is a key player in the health of the heart!! Not having enough of it around, as with what happens when menopause begins, is inherently harmful to the female heart. All of the functions of the heart rely on the support of estrogen.

Pregnancy is a time of estrogen abundance and a pregnancy, it turns out, is very beneficial to heart health. Like it or not, women evolved to have babies and not having babies turns out to be detrimental to women’s hearts!

So ladies, try to keep your hormones as long as you can by staying as healthy as possible. Eating lots of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit is great for you!! The phytonutrients and antioxidants help to keep those ovaries humming!! And ladies, if you don’t have any babies, whatever the reason, be sure to do EVERYTHING you can to live a heart-healthy life!

Read more here:
https://www.mdlinx.com/obstetrics-gynecology/top-medical-news/article/2017/05/18/7178956?utm_source=in-house&utm_medium=message&utm_campaign=mh-obgyn-may17

Certain Foods Tied to Increased Depression Risk

Certain Foods Tied to Increased Depression Risk

This article came as no surprise to me! The new and exciting field of nutritional psychiatry is so key to cognitive and mental health. Of course what we eat matters to our brain! And how we feel emotionally is clearly linked to our physical state.

Our brains need many varied nutrients to function properly and also need a healthy gut microbiome. The health and happiness of the bacterial civilization inside our colons has an immense impact on the status of our brains. They make byproducts from the foods we eat, with a great emphasis on the fermentation products of fiber from vegetables, called short chain fatty acids, which circulate and enter our brains and keep all working well and helping us to feel happy.

A diet which mostly consists of processed foods and animal products and is short on vegetables and some fruits will leave our gut microbiome hungry and our brains unhappy.

So what is the recipe for happiness? It seems clear now that a diet with lots of vegetables and fiber from whole grains, along with lots of healthy fats from plant materials, with  just a small amount of animal protein and fat, is the ticket to health and happiness!!

Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/2pnkCTI

Grey Hair Linked with Increased Heart Disease Risk in Men

Grey Hair Linked with Increased Heart Disease Risk in Men

You thought of your grey hair as a cosmetic burden to deal with, along with being an outright nuisance … and considered that to be plenty to contend with. Now it turns out that the grey is so more than “hair strand deep!” It’s now been shown, confirming what many thought already, myself included, that grey hair also meant that your insides were, at least theoretically, greying as well!

Yes – we now must add a dangerous veneer to the pain of greying hair, as it has been shown in men (ladies this most definitely should apply to you too, though your gender has yet to be studied) that it indicates a very real increased risk of cardiovascular events.

But why would this be? Why should grey strands on your noggin foretell of a disastrous heart attack or stroke? The reason for this correlation is so simple to grasp. Grey hair is a sign of oxidative stress, of an imbalance favoring free radicals! Free radicals are molecules carrying an unmatched electron,

making it exist in a state of oxidative stress – it needs an electron to balance its charge and neutralize it! It’s now an oxidant in search of an antioxidant!

In women in menopause in particular, lack of estrogen predisposes to oxidative stress and lots of free radicals. Another way to think of this is that grey hair is a sign of inflammation!! And inflammation breeds disease! If oxidative stress and free radicals exist in one place in the body, you can be safe extrapolate  that they exist everywhere! And free radicals at the level of the scalp leads to a state of inflammation and oxidative stress at the hair follicle – and hence the greying of hair!

Rather than freaking out about this, better to just swallow and take the steps needed to reduce your level of inflammation and be grateful you know the score prior to a bad event! Together we can lower your state of inflammation and lower your risk of a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke, or heart or kidney failure … down the line!)

With a whole foods, organic diet, filled with fiber and an array of vegetables and fruits, along with exercise, proper sleep, stress control, and detoxification – your body can be restored to a much healthier state.

And will the grey hair disappear? This has yet to be tested … so let’s see how your hair reacts!! No promises for the hair, but for sure your arteries will smile!!!

See: https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/grey-hair-linked-with-increased-heart-disease-risk-in-men?hit=wireek

Does Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Cause Autism?

Does Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy Cause Autism?

The data on the effects of taking antidepressants during a pregnancy  on the developing brains of babies is not definitively known, as no one can do a controlled trial with such drugs. All data is based upon women’s memories and data obtained from medical records – all well recognized to be often faulty and downright erroneous!

Add to that the fact that antidepressants come in different doses and chemical contents and can be taken for variable lengths of time and at different stages of a pregnancy. All of that goes to making the crazy and widespread recent announcement that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy does not have a link with autism or ADHD or any other brain issues – absolutely unfounded.

Let’s take the ubiquitous SSRI’s – drugs like Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft, and the “cousins” Effexor and Cymbalta. These drugs are designed to alter the levels of neurotransmitters! Serotonin is the predominant one impacted. Serotonin is really both a neurotransmitter and a hormone and it has enormous effects all over the body, including the gastrointestinal system, where it is made in huge quantities, surpassing the levels of the brain. And this critically important substance delivers information around the body and is very critical to the development of neural networks in both the gut and brain. To put it mildly, it should be assumed that the potential for harm from antidepressants is great and other measures to deal with depression and anxiety should be taken. There is no way to guarantee safety with these drugs.

It is now understood that moods are heavily determined by the level of inflammation in the body and brain, the overall nutrient status, and hormonal balances and imbalances. Changing the diet to include huge amounts of vegetables and healthy fats, including some saturated fats, eliminating processed food, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, sleeping better and getting better sleep habits, reducing electromagnetic exposures, exercising, getting out in nature and under the sun, seeing the sunset, working on stress and on relationships, and reducing one’s toxic load, all have amazing benefits for mood and will improve the health of the mom and the baby.

Giving pregnant women drugs which impact the very development of the gut and brain is like playing with fire. A brain is a precious thing and there is only one opportunity to create the perfect brain. Mood disorders are much more common in women and it so easy to prescribe drugs and to take them … and it is a challenge to change ones lifestyle habits. But there is no more motivated group than pregnant women to do what is needed to have a healthy baby! So please get the word out that taking antidepressants is NOT OKAY in pregnancy!! Much better options for mental wellbeing exist, which will help, and definitely not harm, the growing and developing new life!

See: http://time.com/4743467/antidepressants-pregnancy-autism/

PCOS and Fatty Liver - The link between grows stronger!

PCOS and Fatty Liver: The Link Between Grows Stronger!

The incredible link of the gut microbiome and overall gut health with the metabolic manifestations of PCOS just keeps growing more clear! A new study was just recently published, the key points shown in the attached below piece, indicating that women with PCOS do indeed carry a higher risk of developing fatty liver.

The intestinal tract links directly with the liver, through a passageway called the enterohepatic circulation. Inflammatory products from the gut head right to the liver. This connecting passage exists to allow the liver, in concert with the brain, to regulate the glucose and fat levels in our blood and to regulate our appetites.

Never did Mother Nature anticipate that humans would eat huge amounts of animal fats and transfats, inordinate quantities of sugar, and high fructose corn syrup in particular, eat nonstop and late into the night, and eat chemicals toxic to our intestinal microbial guests! The outcome of this unfortunate gut environment is gut dysbiosis (the wrong sorts of bacteria living in the gut) and impaired gut barrier function (also called Leaky Gut).

Leaky gut occurs when the wrong gut composition of bacteria develops and toxic particles are produced by them, called Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) – also called endotoxin – which pass through the gut lining and into the adjacent immune cells, called the Gut Associated Lyphoid Tissue (the GALT). These immune cells feel that they must defend the body against these toxins, as they are assuming the body is undergoing a serious infection, and a severe inflammatory reaction develops in the liver and a chronic state of inflammation develops throughout the body.

This occurs as the immune cells release their own inflammatory products, designed to protect us from invading bacteria, fungus, parasites, and such, but in this case, these “helpful” immune cells are actually furthering the damage being done by creating an unremitting state of chronic inflammation in the liver and throughout the body. This also manifests are severe inflammatory acne!

The occurrence of this inflammation in the liver worsens insulin resistance, causing more testosterone to be made and further interfering with the natural hormonal functions of the ovary.

The first thing all women with PCOS must do is to change the diet to help heal and restore a healthy gut. Food can and indeed should, be thy medicine!!

And that will be the topic of my next PCOS blog!

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