Advertisements

Role of Nutrition in Mental Wellness

Had a great few days in Washington DC this past week – stopping by Great Day Washington to talk about how we can change appetite by eating the right foods and supplements to help modulate microbiome bacteria and restore neurotransmitter balance – and speaking at the Mental Health America conference about the prominent role of nutrition in mental wellness.

See the video from Great Day Washington HERE

See my slides from MHA below (PDF)…

talbott-mha-conference-june-2018.pdf

Advertisements

Brain Shrinkage?

Are you keeping you brain plumped and pumped?

Did you know that your brain can shrink in response to a variety of environmental exposures such as poor diet, inflammation, and aging?

Did you also know that you can use lifestyle changes to improve brain function and prevent many of the age-associated problems with memory, mood, and mental focus?

I visited KUTV’s Fresh Living recently to talk about Brain Health & Your Diet – you can see the clip HERE.

Unknown.jpeg

June is Brain Awareness Month!

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease kills more people than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined?

As our brains age, they can slow down so we have trouble with memory, and mood, and motivation. This slowing down is caused by changes in neurotransmitters, reduced blood flow, and buildup of dysfunctional proteins called amyloid. These amyloid proteins can interfere with the function of brain cells (neurons) and eventually lead to neuron destruction (brain cell death).

Sleep

-7.5h per night clears amyloid (by “flushing” amyloid away from neuron buildups)

-sleep loss is the most predominant risk factor for Alzheimer’s risk (more than age, genetics, etc).

Intense Exercise

-increases brain blood flow

-loosens amyloid for clearing

-total of just 3 hours per week of exercise (30min x 6 days per week = 2% of your day)!

-2/3 cardio (alternate fast/slow walking)

-1/3 strength (full body = legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms)

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Spices

-healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, fish oil) – the brain is mostly Fat (~60%)!

-spices (turmeric, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg)

-Fast once per week = 14h to 16h to increase autophagy (cellular housekeeping)

-stop eating after dinner

-skip breakfast

-eat a healthy lunch

-controls blood sugar

Social Connection and Brain Exercise

 

 

Foods That Fight Depression

WTF?!?!

Am I really writing about this topic again? Suicide? As I’ve done so many times in the last couple of month?

Kate Spade!

Anthony Bourdain!

I’m pissed.

Not because of what they did (we all struggle with our own demons)…

Not because of the (mostly) formulaic media coverage about how “we just don’t know what leads people to commit suicide” (we actually have some very good and NEW ideas about what leads to problems with Mental Wellness)…

But because of the fact that we have a LOT of natural options for alleviating depression and improving mental wellness that are BETTER than any of the poorly-effective, high-side-effect, dangerous, addictive, synthetic drugs that millions of Americans are taking every day (and struggling to quit). These drugs don’t make anyone feel good – they just make you feel terrible in a different way than you felt before.

Just last month, I was talking on KUTV’s Fresh Living about “foods that fight depression” – in celebration of National Mental Health Awareness month. See that clip HERE.

A growing body of scientific research is showing that a “Mediterranean style” can not only prevent depression, but can reverse it after it’s started.

Scientists have known for at least a decade that a diet high in processed and highly refined foods increases depression risk in adults, teens, and kids.

In a series of ground-breaking research studies conducted over the last year, scientists from Australia, Chicago, and New York City have shown that a few very simple dietary changes can significantly improve mood and dramatically reverse depression within as little as several weeks.

In one study, people with major depression were able to reverse their disease within 3 months (BMC Medicine, January 2017) – even when other treatments such as synthetic antidepressant drugs were less effective and higher in side effects. A larger follow-up study showed the mood boost lasted at least 6 months (Nutritional Neuroscience, December 2017).

Just last month (April 2018), new research studies have shown depression-prevention in elderly adults eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (Rush University Medical Center at American Academy of Neurology) – and lower fatigue (-64%), depression (-55%), and tension (-45%) in stressed-out adults taking a probiotic/prebiotic supplement (Amare Fundamentals at Experimental Biology).

Many scientists and health professionals are starting to think about depression as a condition of an “unhealthy brain” – so just as we nourish and strengthen the heart to improve cardiovascular health, we also need to do the same for our brain. We also need to keep in mind that we really have TWO brains that need nourishing – the one in our head and the one in our gut (the “2nd brain”) that includes the trillions of bacteria called our microbiome (that produce up to 90% of our feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin).

Just as an unhealthy diet high in processed foods promotes inflammation (believed to be a cause of virtually every disease, from heart disease to diabetes to depression), a healthy Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits/vegetables, olive oil, legumes, nuts, yogurt, cheese, whole grains, and fish (with red meat and red wine in moderation) will nourish our brains(s), reduce inflammation, and modulate our microbiome.

Perhaps even more compelling than the dramatic health benefits of the right foods for preventing and treating depression, is the fact that this way of eating is both easy and delicious. My own “Mental Wellness Diet” (MWdiet for short) is a super-charged version of the Mediterranean diet that addresses the 3 primary anti-depression factors:

1. Brain Nutrients (Vitamin B6, Omega-3 fats, Flavonoids, Tocotrienols)

2. Inflammation

3. Microbiome

DocTalbott’s MWdiet Shopping List

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

• Unlimited amounts – choose brighter options grown as close to home as possible

• Spinach

• Kale

• Cabbage

• Sweet potatoes

• Tomatoes

• Onions

• Leeks

• Garlic

• Asparagus

• Artichokes

• Peas (frozen is OK)

• Bananas

• Berries (frozen is OK)

• Pomegranates

• Apples

• Grapes (including red wine, in moderation)

Beans & Legumes (canned is OK)

• Black beans

• Kidney beans

• Garbanzo (Chickpeas)

• Lentils

Healthy Fats

• Extra Virgin Olive Oil

• Nuts – Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds, Macadamias, Pistachios

• Avocados

Whole Grains

• Oats/Oatmeal

• Whole Grain Pasta

• Quinoa

• Brown Rice

Dairy, Cheese, and Fermented Foods

• Greek Yogurt, Icelandic Skyr, or other yogurt (look for lower sugar and higher fat content)

• Whole Organic Milk

• Kefir

• Kombucha (fermented tea)

• Cheeses of your choice (in moderation)

• Sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies such as cucumbers/pickles, beets, carrots, turnips)

Proteins

• Salmon

• Chicken

• Eggs

• Shrimp (frozen is OK)

• Lean Pork

• Lean Beef (in moderation)

Herbs & Spices

• Turmeric

• Ginger

• Basil

• Rosemary

• Oregano

• Clove

• Sage

• Cayenne

• Parsley

• Thyme

• Saffron

• Cumin

• Coriander

• Paprika

• Cinnamon

• Allspice

• Nutmeg

Is Your Turmeric Pure and Natural?

Maybe not?

Based on this new analysis of commercial turmeric supplement published last month – almost 2/3rds of all products analyzed (59%) showed signs of including synthetic curcumin – and almost 3/4ths of products (71%) showed toxic solvent residues.

Turmeric “can be” a very healthy supplement for benefits for brain, gut, inflammation, pain, etc – BUT, you need to make sure you’re buying your turmeric from a trusted company with proper quality control procedures.

 

Curcuminoid Content and Safety-Related Markers of Quality of Turmeric Dietary Supplements Sold in an Urban Retail Marketplace in the United States.

Abstract

SCOPE: Turmeric is a top selling dietary supplement (DS) in the United States with rapidly expanding usage. Therefore, turmeric DS formulations available for sale in an urban US retail marketplace were analyzed, and point of sale information was related to measures of quality relevant to safety.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Eighty-seven unique turmeric DS were identified; a majority (94%) contained turmeric-derived curcuminoid extracts (TD-CE), which were combined with other bioactives in 47% of products, including piperine (24%), an additive that could alter the metabolism of concurrent medications. While curcuminoid content was within 80% of anticipated for a majority of products analyzed (n = 35), curcuminoid composition (% curcumin) did not meet USP criteria for TD-CE in 59% and was suggestive of possible unlabeled use of synthetic curcumin in some. Lead content was associated with inclusion of turmeric root and exceeded USP limits in one product. Residues of toxic class 1 or 2 solvents, which are not needed for TD-CE isolation, were present in 71% of products, although quantified levels were within USP-specified limits.

CONCLUSION: Assessment of turmeric DS quality at point of sale is difficult for consumers and may best be managed in partnership with knowledgeable health care professionals.

Got Stress?

Of course you have stress – everyone does – and while “some” amount of acute/temporary stress can actually be a good thing – it’s the long-term chronic stress that leads to problems such as burnout, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia (among many other stress-related conditions).

I recently did a video “deep dive” into how chronic stress is related to many areas of gut-brain-axis balance and mental wellness – hope you enjoy it.

 

Why We Crave Junk Food

Here’s a short piece from LifeZette/HealthZette – read the original here.

The Real Reason We Reach for Junk Food Instead of What’s Good for Us

Some of the problems we associate with the brain may be a result of poor signals between it and our gut — here’s how to fix this

You may have every intention to eat better. But when your stomach starts to growl — all bets are off.

You give in to those cravings for chips and soda yet again.

Why is this happening? The 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut are “telling” your brain what they want to eat. And they want junk food.

What the gut tells the brain, and vice versa, is part of what scientists call the gut/brain axis. I’m fascinated by nutritional biochemistry, the idea that what we eat changes the biochemistry of our bodies and influences how we look, think and feel. We’re learning that this connection influences everything from our moods and how we eat to our overall well-being.

What we’re discovering is that some of the problems we associate with the brain may be the result of faulty signals between the brain and the gut. The underlying problem may start when our gut is out of balance. If it’s not sending the right signals to the brain, it may lead to feelings of stress, fatigue and anxiety.

This may be why we crave corn chips instead of salads. Think of the gut as a garden. If we feed the bacteria in our gut corn chips, we’re preferentially “growing” the ones that thrive on corn chips. When they get hungry, they send a signal to the brain to send more corn chips. That’s why we get the cravings; but if we start eating more fruits and vegetables instead, the “corn chip” bacteria will starve.

Our cravings will change. Soon the good bacteria in our gut will ask our brain to supply more of that healthier food.

There are several things we can do to balance our gut/brain axis so that we feel better physically and emotionally. My best tips are as follows:

Bring on the fiber. There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble is like nature’s broom. We don’t digest it, and it carries toxins with it as it exits our bodies. Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps to normalize digestion.

It can also act as a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in our gut. I like soluble guar fiber, available over the counter as Sunfiber, because it has been shown in more than 120 clinical studies to support digestive health without the uncomfortable side effects. It also triggers the release of satiation-inducing hormones, so we may not feel as hungry.

We need to add fermented foods to our diet. Kimchee, yogurt, kefir and kombucha all help to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Amino acids are used by the body for many physiological functions. One amino acid found in matcha (a finely ground powder), called theanine, has been shown to promote relaxation without causing drowsiness, reduce nervous tension, and help prevent the negative side effects of caffeine. It’s a great brain nutrient. L-theanine is available over the counter as Suntheanine.

The concept of taking care of the gut and brain simultaneously may seem confusing. We’re going to see more natural nutritional products coming to the market to help people nourish their guts and brains, which is a good thing. One of the first is Amare Global’s The FundaMentals Pack, which includes a product called MentaBiotics, for gut support and improved mental wellness.

What we didn’t understand until recently is that our feelings don’t always start in our heads.

Trust our gut. Much of what science is confirming about the gut/brain axis has been known since the beginning of time. We talk about having butterflies in our stomach when we’re nervous and about having a “gut” feeling. These phrases are part of our language because they describe real and physical phenomena.

But what we didn’t understand until recently is that our feelings don’t always start in our heads. Communication signals go from gut to brain as well as brain to gut. And we can learn how to maintain a stronger balance between the two for better overall health and well-being.

Shawn Talbott holds an MS in exercise science from the University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Nutrition. He is the author of hundreds of articles and more than a dozen books on nutrition and fitness.

Probiotics Reduce Depression

Nice study on a probiotic strain that reduces depression in IBS patients (but no effect on anxiety or stress) – showing (again) the ‘strain-specificity’ of probiotic bacteria supplements.

Amare’s MentaBiotics combines THREE specific probiotic strains to help with depression, anxiety, and stress – and then ‘matches’ the right prebiotics for optimal microbiome nourishment – delivering holistic benefits for Mental Wellness.

http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/new-study-shows-probiotics-can-reduce-depression-scores-alter-brain-activity-humans-ibs/

A new study shows probiotics can reduce depression scores and alter brain activity in humans with IBS

Andreu Prados

Although probiotics have been reported to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), data in humans regarding their effects on psychiatric comorbidities is scarce.

A new study, led by Prof. Premysl Bercik from the Department of Medicine at the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at the McMaster University in Hamilton (Canada), has found that the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 can reduce depression scores and increase quality of life in patients with IBS.

The researchers performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 44 adults with IBS and diarrhoea or a mixed-stool pattern (according to Rome III criteria) and mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression scores based on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale (HAD-A or HAD-D score 8-14). Patients were randomly assigned to the probiotic group (B. longum NCC3001 1.0 x 10^10 colony-forming units/gram powder with maltodextrin every day; n = 22) or the placebo group (1 gram of maltodextrin every day; n = 22) for 6 weeks. At weeks 0 and 6, patients’ levels of anxiety and depression (primary outcome), IBS symptoms, quality of life and somatization (using a validated questionnaire), stool, urine, and blood samples were collected, together with an assessment of changes in brain activation patterns (using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, fMRI). At week 10, patients’ levels of anxiety and depression, IBS symptoms, quality of life, and somatization were also determined.

Both the intervention and placebo groups had similar faecal microbiota profiles, serum markers of inflammation, and levels of neurotrophins and neurotransmitters. However, the probiotic group had reduced urine levels of the metabolites methylamines and aromatic amino acids.

Although the probiotic had no effects on anxiety or IBS symptoms, it led to a significant reduction in depression scores of 2 points or more on the HAD scale in 14/22 patients. It was also shown that the beneficial effects of the probiotic on depression scores at 6 and 10 weeks was more likely to occur in those patients who reported adequate relief of IBS symptoms. Besides this, the probiotic also led to an increase in quality of life score (measured by the SF-36 questionnaire) compared with the placebo group. At week 10, depression scores were also reduced in patients given the probiotic versus the placebo.

Regarding brain activation patterns assessed by fMRI, the probiotic reduced responses to negative emotional stimuli in the amygdala and fronto-limbic regions, as compared with placebo. In the intervention group, reduced engagement of the amygdala correlated with decreased depression scores and was more likely to occur in those patients with adequate relief of IBS symptoms.

In conclusion, 6-week administration of Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 decreased depression scores and decreased brain activity in areas involved in the processing of negative emotions. Besides this, the probiotic also improved overall symptoms of IBS and quality of life. According the authors, “This is the first study to show that probiotics can improve depression scores as well as alter brain activity patterns in IBS patients with comorbid depression and anxiety”.

Reference:

Pinto-Sanchez MI, Hall GB, Ghajar K, et al. Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 reduces depression scores and alters brain activity: a pilot study in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology. 2017. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.05.003.

=========================

Shawn M. Talbott, PhD

CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN

PsychoNutritionist & Vigorologist

ShawnTalbott.com

DocTalbott.com

Feeding Your TWO Brains for Mental Health Month

http://kutv.com/features/fresh-living/dr-shawn-talbott-national-mental-health-month

Did you know you have two brains in your body?

That’s right – TWO brains – the one that you know about in your head, and your “second brain” in your gut

Our “first” brain is responsible for analytical thought, language, reason, logic, and most of our “higher” mental function as humans – so it’s the one that is helping you read this article and make sense of the world around you.

Our “second” brain is responsible for those vague “gut feelings” that we often experience, but that we can’t put words to – things like whether or not you trust someone or if a decision feels like the right one (or not). One of the reasons that we have trouble describing our gut feelings in words is because the signals from our second brain communicate with a region of the first brain called the insula (or insular cortex) – a “pre-verbal” area of the brain involved in consciousness, compassion, empathy, self-awareness, and interpersonal experiences.

Bacterial Abundance – the Microbiome

The most important part of our second brain is the “microbiome” – the trillions of good bacteria (probiotics) that live in our gut and contribute to our moods, energy levels, food cravings, and virtually every aspect of our mental wellness and physical health. The bacterial cells in our microbiome number more than the stars in the Milky Way and outnumber our own body cells by nearly 10-to-1. As much as 90% of our serotonin and 70% of our dopamine comes from our second brain – and these neurotransmitters along with other gut–derived signals play a huge role in how our gut is connected to our brain– and vice versa.

We are now discovering is that some of the problems we associate with the brain, such as stress, fatigue, depression, and anxiety may actually be the result of faulty signals between our brain and our gut (our second brain). If our gut is not sending the right signals to the brain, it may lead to feelings of stress, fatigue and anxiety – but there are a number of effective lifestyle interventions that can help us to optimize our gut-brain connection to help us feel our best.

Something to consider:

● 70% of our immune system resides in our gut, and that’s one of the key communication networks between the first and second brain.

● Your gut creates most of the serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters responsible for your mood.

● When it comes to food cravings– Think of your gut as a garden. If you feed the bacteria in your gut corn chips, you are preferentially growing the ones that thrive on corn chips. When they get hungry, they send a signal to your brain to send more corn chips. That’s why you get the cravings. If you started eating more fruits and vegetables instead, the “corn chip” bacteria will starve. Your cravings will change.

● What’s an out of balance gut look like? You may have digestive issues such as bloating, cramping or occasional diarrhea or occasional constipation, causing the wrong signals to be sent to your brain.

There are several natural lifestyle approaches that we can take to balance our gut/brain axis so that we feel better physically and emotionally. For example – I like to tell people that gut-brain balance is directly connected to how we Move, Rest, and Eat.

In terms of “movement” – we know that even small amounts of physical activity are more effective in improving mood and reducing depression than prescription antidepressants. Similarly, we know that enough “rest” in terms of adequate sleep quality, is one of the leading contributors to overall brain health – including mood, energy levels, food cravings (such as stress eating) and belly fat. Perhaps the most direct connection between our two brains is through what we eat – so here are my “top 5” tips for gut-brain balance:

1. Eat more “whole” and fewer “processed” foods. The less processed, the better in terms of feeding your microbiome. Think about an apple, versus applesauce, versus apple juice – and eat the most “whole” version possible.

2. Bring on the fiber! There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble is like nature’s broom. We don’t digest it, and it carries toxins with it as it exits our bodies. Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps to normalize digestion. It can also act as a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in our gut. I like soluble guar fiber, such as Sunfiber, because it has been shown in more than 120 clinical studies to support digestive health without the uncomfortable side effects. It also triggers the release of satiation-inducing hormones, so you may not feel as hungry.

3. Add fermented foods to your diet. Kimchee, yogurt, kefir and kombucha all help to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

4. Feed your gut specific phytonutrients such as flavonoids/polyphenols from brightly-colored berries, peppers, and citrus. These phytonutrients can help to protect good bacteria and displace bad bacteria – helping to establish a suitable microbiome environment for the production of more “feel good” neurotransmitters.

5. Feed your brain specific plant-based amino acids. Amino acids are used by the body for many physiological functions. One amino acid found in matcha (whole leaf green tea powder) – called theanine – has been shown to promote relaxation without causing drowsiness, reduce nervous tension, and help prevent the negative side-effects of caffeine. If you’re not a tea drinker, you can also use a supplemental form of pure theanine (Suntheanine brand) to help promote “relaxed alertness” in body and mind.

Our recent discovery of the “second brain” and our ability to naturally modulate the Gut-Brain-Axis with lifestyle choices (move, rest, eat) is completely changing the way that we think about (and improve) our mental wellness and physical health. Just a few very simple changes to your diet can dramatically improve your mood, energy levels, mental focus, and even physical performance.

About the Author:

Dr. Shawn Talbott received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Sports Medicine (B.S.) and Fitness Management (B.A.) from Marietta College, his Master’s degree (M.S.) in Exercise Science from UMASS, and his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Rutgers. His research is focused on natural products to support human performance and psychological vigor (physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being).

Dr. Talbott’s recent projects include two academic textbooks, an award-winning documentary film, and several best-selling books translated into multiple languages. His work has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, the TED stage, and the White House.

Advertisements