Febuary/March 2009: Foods for Depression

In this newsletter

Winter is the season for the cyclical contraction of energy throughout plant and animal life. Like a tree in the fall/winter season, whose energy contracts from its leaves and branches to be consolidated at its central core, it is meant as a time of physical rest and renewal for all forms of life. On short cold days, energy naturally moves inward, a necessary step in its preservation and consolidation in advance of spring/summers cyclical awakening.

Chinese healers long ago saw, in their great wisdom, that the season winter was linked to the bones, the adrenals and kidneys, and kidney essence. Kidney essence, the natural, finite core energy people receive from their parents at conception/birth was to be guarded and preserved. The Chinese understood (see the 5-Phase diagram, below) that this core energy within the body was linked to our centered mind/spirit and to the core structure of our bones. Intuitively, and often without much thought, we also recognize this link when we say such things as I feel it deep in my bones; I am bone-weary; or I feel chilled to the bone.

The Chinese, through their intuitive understanding, also appreciated the connection between the season winter, the most contractive of all seasons, and the element water, the most contractive of all elements. How fascinating! We cannot squeeze water. Water expands when heated, to form steam, and it expands when it is frozen, forming ice.

Before electricity and the light bulb, cultures generally lived in harmony with the seasons. In the dead of winter, people in the Northern Hemisphere often slept as many as 10 to 14 hours a night. In early New England Cape houses, for example, heat came only from the keeping room fire. Inside, natural light was limited, with rooms lit by sun from a only few small panes since glass was expensive and windows allowed cold to penetrate. People retired early and slept through the long nights. To try to fight the nighttime frigid chill as well as darkness with a few mere candles simply required too much energy. Anyone today struggling in winter through a power outage can well appreciate this. What sound strategy for our ancestors to sleep long hours. During the coldest months of the year, sleep helped to bolster their immune systems and body chemistrylink when the silver bullets of antibiotics and modern drugs were not available.

Interestingly, our forebears formula for winter survival also incorporated lifestyle factors to fight depression and anxiety. Family members each played a vital role in the survival and well-being of the household. Members enjoyed a sense of their own positive contribution and connection to family. Chronic stress, fast-paced living, habitual daily pressures, rapid change, technological overload, and financial uncertainties as we know them today did not exist then. It was a time of simple pleasures and a comforting barter-based model of balance and moderation, with people living within their means.

The diet of our ancestors, based on locally-grown whole foods, as well as protein and natural fats from grass-fed animals (perhaps, too, some cod liver oil for its fat-soluble vitamins A and D) also supported good physical and mental health. Healthy fats from grass-fed animals provided warmth while helping to keep hormones in good balance and promoting neurological health and emotional well-being.

Prepared, packaged, and fast food did not exist. This fact alone helped preserve their physical and mental health: It meant our ancestors ingested neither chemical food additives and preservatives nor excessive amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fats and trans fats, nor excessive quantities of sugar and refined flour. Their traditional diet, based on whole foods and animal products from grass-fedlink livestock, easily satisfied two of what we believe to be the most critical dietary rules for good physical and mental health:

  • to obtain enough healthy fats, balancing omega-3and omega-6 fats in a ratio close to 1,1; and
  • to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Healthy fats, important for the building of permeable smart cell membranes for the proper functioning of cells and for intercellular communication, play a key role in neurological health.link. In addition, stable blood sugar aids memorylink and helps in the prevention of depression and mood swings. Healthy fats, whole grains, adequate and quality protein are all a part of good physical health and the depression/anxiety picture.

Expansive Sugar and Credit; Physical and Fiscal Fallout and the Depression Risk

This winter, we are dealing with not only the season taking away mood-lifting sunshine and its therapeutic vitamin D, but also financial traumas. Besides winter, stress, too, is contractive. Work, computers, financial uncertainties, and trying to keep it all together in our everyday life contract our energy. Little wonder we seek ways to lighten up. Stress can make us crave the expansive experience provided by sugar (and alcohol).

Thanks to the food industry and convenience shopping, we do not have far to look for relief. Sugar is everywhere and right at our finger tips. Displays of sweet beverages and packaged treats that are loaded with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined flour, and omega-6 inflammatory fats and trans fats line the pathways to check-out counters in virtually all grocery, drug, and convenience stores. These three villainssugar, refined flour, and inflammatory omega-6 fats and trans fats undermine the two key dietary principles for good health outlined below.

With the muscle and marketing strategies of the food and drug industries, it is no wonder that sugar consumption has soared. In the short space of a lifetime, sugar consumption has ballooned to levels far too great for our insulin capacity to handle and at a rate far too rapid for our body to adapt (see charts, below). We need look only at the concomitant increase in chronic disease to intuitively appreciate this. Sugar and HFCS along with ingredients that artificially extend the shelf life of foods, such as refined flour, refined vegetable oils,(( Refined flour and vegetable oils are stripped of phyto-nutrients that could make them go rancid. But what does this suggest to us? If they cannot go rancid, how will our digestion be able to process these denatured foods?)) trans fats, and food additives to say nothing of super-sizing were all a part of the enjoy now/pay later mind set.

An interesting parallel to this shift in the American diet can be seen in the more is better mantra of our financial system. In recent decades this mentality inspired risky mortgage lending and generally easy consumer credit conditions. The accompanying charts illustrate the exponential increase in sugar consumption and household debt in just the last few decades of the post-World War II period.

The graphs of sugar consumption and consumer debt mirror both the soaring rates of chronic, physical disease within our population and the current fiscal distress within our financial system. Just as easy credit led to unhealthy levels of debt and sent the economy into a tailspin, so too are record amounts of expansionary sugar, refined flour, inflammatory omega-6 fats from our habit of ingesting high levels of refined vegetable seed oils, and trans fats. In a living-beyond-means world, these phenomena were all intertwined. But, as the Chinese, expressed in their yin/yang model, so well understood, something at its extreme becomes its opposite. The pendulum can swing only so far before it changes direction. Thankfully, we now see this, particularly at the grass-roots level with the very real desire of many to return to more traditional values.

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Specific Food Strategies for Depression and Anxiety

Clinically defined psychiatric disorders afflict just under half of Americans for at least one period of time during their lives. Depression and anxiety often occur together and also often occur in conjunction with physical ailments such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. The lifetime prevalence of depressive, anxiety, impulse control and substance abuse disorders is twice as high for people born after 1945 than for those born earlier, and the proportion of Americans suffering from three or more disorders nearly a fifth has more than tripled from the post-World War II generations.link

Depression is as complex as it is pervasive. It involves many factorsgenetic pre-disposition,link allergies,link trauma, lack of connection and purpose in life, the accumulation of too much stress, the lack of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. It also involves food.

Because food plays a role in feeding depression, if we understand its dynamics, we can then use this information to make changes and alter body energies and chemistry to allow healing to begin. Food is such a good place to start: First, because we change our blood chemistry and influence the strength of our immune system with every meal; Second, because food is an easy way to gain some sense of control over our lives at a time when we feel that so much is in the hands of fate. Having some control in whatever areas, great or small, is empowering and an important first step in fighting stress and depression; and Third, because the safest (in contrast to drugs) and most economical (it requires no professional fees) approach to mind/spirit issues is through food. Improving the diet allows the body to become more balanced and centered and resilient, so that mind/spirit issues can surface more quickly and can be faster to heal.

In terms of specific strategies, there are four key dietary factors associated with depression and anxiety: too much sugar; too little protein; too little fat; and, too much dairy (that is, dairy as a proportion of calories).link These suggest four major elements in a dietary program to address depression and anxiety:

  1. Sugar eliminate cane sugar products;
  2. Fats increase healthy fats;
  3. Proteins eat adequate protein; grass-fed animal proteins have a perfect 1:1 omega-3/-6 balance, are easy to assimilate, and especially life-enhancing;
  4. Dairy consider cutting back or eliminating milk products.

The first three sugar, fats, proteins return us to the two concepts in our opening paragraphs about the role of healthy fats and stable blood sugar for general physical and mental health. Dairy is itself a large and controversial topic; our discussion here is primarily centered upon the idea of its proclivity to retard personal independence. Thwarting the innate drive for autonomy and independence inscribed in us all can lead to depression, which is where dairy comes in. Lets look at each of these factors, in turn.

Sugar: Stress can often make us feel weak and depressed. Then, it can be tempting and an almost automatic reaction to grab sugar for its quick energy, its calming effect,link and its capacity to quickly elevate mood (through sugars ability to boost serotonin levels). In the short-term, sugar calms our nerves, makes us feel clear and focused, and elevates our mood. But the problem comes later when we experience the withdrawal-rebound effects. Sugar cravings return. These have less to do with will power than simple physiology.link

Attempting to counter stress, exhaustion, and depression with sugar is self-defeating because stress and sugar both disrupt the workings of the immune system and because sugar helps feed into its own self-reinforcing sugar-triggered depression loop. We can turn to Chinese Five-Phase Theory that models energy flows throughout the body to understand this on a new level.

According to Chinese 5-Phase theory, stress weakens the kidneys and adrenals, organs associated with the Water phase and its emotion, Fear. When we reach for sugar as an antidote for stress, we create trouble for the kidneys and adrenals, part of the Water phase. Lets look at how this works: Sugar is sweet, of course. That means it belongs to Earth, which is the phase that controls and has the power to squash Waters energy. Eating too much sugar boosts Earths energy, enabling it to over-control and further weaken and deplete Water, including its organs, the kidneys and adrenals. Then, the Water element is even more deficient and exhausted and the resulting kidney/adrenal fatigue sets up more cravings for sugarwhich again weakens the kidneys and adrenalswhich creates more sugar cravingsin a negative and self-reinforcing loop.

To stop this cycle, the key is to give up cane sugar and devote more of these daily calories to high-quality fats and animal foods. When sugar is cut out of the diet, a lot of anger goes away, opening the possibility of change. Without sugar, energy begins to shift and re-balance and a person begins to feel more stable and grounded. After four or five days without sugar, cravings disappear and thinking becomes clear and more focused. (Patience may be required during this period since a person may experience some withdrawal symptoms and healing reactions).

Then, to sustain a no-sugar diet the trick is to be able to recognize when food and lifestyle create the craving for expansion and learn to satisfy these with substitutes for cane sugarfoods that are also sweet like bananas, dates, roasted root vegetables, or baked goods made with maple syrup or other natural sweeteners. These are all Earth foods which can boost serotonin levels without feeding depression.

For Each Cup Sugar
Reduce Liquid/Cup Sugar
Barley Malt 1 1/2 cups slightly
Rice Syrup 1 1/2 cups slightly
Honey 3/4 cup 1/8 cup
Fruit Juice Concentrate 3/4 cup 1/8 cup
Maple Syrup 3/4 cup 1/8 cup
Maple Granules 1 cup
Molasses 1/2 cup
Stevia 1 teaspoon
Source: Paul Pitchfordd

Fats: The popular idea today is that omega-3 fats such as fish and flax oils are antidotes for depression. The truth is that there are many healthy, natural fats that work this way. Fats such as organic butter from grass-fed animals, unrefined coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil help stabilize blood sugar while they enhance mental function and improve mood.

Fats are vitally important for neurological function and mood. The low-fat diet craze of recent years has done no favors for our brains or our emotional well-being. Like organic animal protein, fats provide substance and sustenance to deal with daily stress and emotional trauma.

One way to appreciate the vital role that fats play in neurological health is to consider the ketogenic diet, a medical dietary therapy that is sometimes used in hospitals for people with neurological disorders. The diet calls for 80% of calories to come from high-quality fats, such as organic butter, ghee, unrefined coconut oils, extra virgin olive oil, and fish oils. Such quality fats help to protect both the myelin lining of the central nervous system and also the brain, which is mostly fat and cholesterol.link

The high-fat ketogenic diet is used especially for children and the elderly. It is a quick remedy for nervous system disorders that may stem from reactions to vaccines. It can also be used for neurological issues such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinsons Disease. Some scientists believe that a high-fat diet can actually help repair the myelin lining around the nerves that are affected by a variety of chronic neurological diseases.

More evidence for the role of fats in mental health comes from the most recent, Winter 2008 issue of Wise Traditions, published by the Weston Price Foundation. In The Pursuit of Happiness: How Nutrient-dense Animal Fats Promote Mental and Emotional Health, Chris Masterjohn states, Modern science has now elucidated the role of nutrient-dense animal fats in preventing mental illness and supporting the focused, goal-oriented behavior needed to confront challenges and pursue a happy, satisfying, and successful life. The Weston Price Foundation offers in this same Winter 2008 issue the following ideas for mood enhancement:

Cod liver oil
vitamins A and D
Butter from grass-fed animals arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D
Egg yolks from grass-fed chickens arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D
Fats from grass-fed animals arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D
Organ meats from grass-fed animals arachidonic acid, vitamns A and D
Bone broths calcium
Fish eggs vitamins A and D
Small whole fish (herbivores) calcium, vitamins A and D
Shell fish vitamins A and D

Proteins: Proteins are vitally important in conquering sugar cravings. Vegetarians are often protein deficient, and they often crave sugar. Cravings generally vanish when adequate protein is incorporated into the diet. Also, when we eat animal flesh we honor the food pyramid hierarchy devised by Nature. One animal eats another up the food chain and humans, at the top, are designed to partake of it all, both plants and animals. Eating plants and animals is life-sustaining and healthy, as long as we dine with a grateful heart. One could argue that plants have feelings, too,link so eating plant-based foods is no more virtuous than eating animal flesh. And, animal protein comes with a complete set of essential amino acids in a form far easier to assimilate and far easier to prepare and attempt to balance than plant-based beans and grains.

Dairy: Milk products can inhibit autonomy, vitality, and independence, keeping a person in a more dependent state. In this way, milk products can be depressing. After infancy, nature sets up the digestive system for ingesting plants and animals from the environment. The alkaline stomach of a newborn becomes more acidic in the first year or so of life.link This is when animals and most people (except those in Northern Europe and North America) wean their young. (More on dairy in an upcoming issue).

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Drugsand the Wisdom of Depression

Like a physical ill or ache or pain, depression is information. It is our body speaking to us, telling us that something is out of balance or out of alignment. In contrast to a physical symptom, depression is a message that our mind/spirit is in pain. Perhaps we are in a professional career or a personal relationship that prevents us from harmony. When we suppress symptoms rather than dealing with them directly, be they physical or emotional, issues get pushed deeper and we risk their surfacing later as greater problems.

Certainly, drugs do have their place. For some people and in some circumstances they can truly come to the rescue to help weather an especially difficult period. This is true either when drugs are used as pain-killers in a post-operative surgery, specific diseases, or when they are used to calm and help people cope with extremely hard emotional times. The key is to avoid using drugs as a chronic crutch, and particularly if they prevent us for searching for answers and asking, Why? Listening to and using any physical or emotional information our body offers can help us adopt necessary change and mid-course corrections to ultimately lead healthier and more satisfying lives. Depression can force us to stop long enough to pause, question, find answers, and then rebalance our lives to become better attuned to our unique and true natures.

Also, no matter how well-designed and well-intended, the science lab cannot truly test for drug safety. The Randomized Controlled Critical Trial (RCCT), considered the gold standard of all statistical type studies, is often used to test drugs, medicines, and medical treatments. Using control (placebo) and intervention (manipulated) matched groups, it is the best we have, but it does come with a few short-comings. This means that we need to spend time to research and understand medications in order to make thoughtful choices. We also need to appreciate some of the pitfalls of testing:

  • Subjects used in testing are generally healthy, something that may not be true for those who will ultimately use the drugs.
  • Children and the elderly, populations that often receive the intervention later on in the real world, are rarely used in testing, so we do not know these outcomes.
  • Due to cost and convenience of subjects and clinicians alike, RCCTs are often conducted over a short 8-12 week time period. Even if drugs are tested for as long as six months (which is usually the most generous time period), RCCTs are not able to test for the compounding effect of long-term use of a drug once it goes on the market. What are the implications at year 10, for example?
  • What of drug interactions? Many people who take drugs for chronic conditions take more than one, so testing a specific drug on a healthy test group population may not tell us its track record in the real-world, and over time.

Every person is unique. Each of us comes with our own genetic makeup and our own set of lifestyle and lifetime experiences. Fortunately, the Internet now gives us a myriad of information at our finger tips to research information about any drug or food additive. It can empower each of us as we strive to make our own well-educated health choices.

There are times when everyone needs to rely on medications. There are also times to let go and rely on other tools. A key tool is food. Think about it and how food might be able to play a key role in restoring health and well-being.

Drugs in the water supply: It is now rather widely recognized that even people who do not take drugs on a daily basis may be receiving an unintended dose through the water supply. Pharmaceuticals like antibiotics, antidepressants, and sex hormones have recently been detected in the water supply of 24 major American cities.link So how do we protect ourselves? Apart from installing a good nano-filtration or reverse-osmosis system to remove selected drugs and metals, I think we can also go back to the tried and true concept of eating whole foods. You may recall from our July 08 newsletter that plants are the skilled environmental adaptogens that have throughout time assured our survival. Plants adapt to new environmental conditions rather rapidly. Plants that adapt and prosper in our local environment provide the best assurance of our own well-being.

Chinese 5-Phase Theorylink

Expansive-contractive, acid/alkaline, and 5-Phase theory are among the many models for balancing foods. Of them all, 5-PhaseTheory is by far my favorite because in its compression and complexity, it attempts to capture observed relationships between the internal and external world. Events in nature correspond to events in the body. Foods and their energies affect energy flows throughout the body as well as organ systems and the interactions and the functioning of specific parts of the body. It is a practical tool, both for the cook who is trying to balance meals and for anyone trying to satisfy cravings or to alter moods.

The Chinese saw in nature energy that was in constant, but controlled motion. The movement of energy was governed and balanced by a system of nourishment, and control. The Nourishment Cycle: In this cycle, each phase lends energy to the subsequent phase. Wood nourishes and feeds Fire; Fire clears and revitalizes Earth; Earth houses Metals; Metals feed and mineralize Water; and Water provides life and hydration to Wood. But, to stay within an ordered range, energy needed also to be checked and moderated, by a Control Cycle. Otherwise, for example, if Wood fed Fire unchecked, Fire might rage out of control and destroy all Earth that lay in its path.

The Control Cycle: In this cycle, each phase works to defuse and diminish the energy of phase two positions ahead. Wood penetrates Earth; Fire melts Metal; Earth contains Water; Metal cuts Wood; and Water extinguishes Fire.

Click the image above to view the entire chart.

Five Phase Theory assigns to each Phase a Season, Color, Flavor, Organ Systems, Mind States, and FoodsGrains, Beans, Vegetables, Fruits, and Animal Foods.

With these in place (see diagram, right) and an understanding of the nourishment and control cycles, we are ready to have some fun:

  • Lets say that you are giving a cocktail party and want to have it be a lively, festive occasion. Fire foods, with their expansive energy, are your best bet. It is no coincidence that beer, wine, and liquor, shrimp, popcorn, corn chips, strawberries, and chocolates are favorite party foods.
  • My hale 91-year-old father never smoked, drank alcohol, tea, or coffee. But guess his favorite foodpopcorn! People find their Fire in many ways.
  • Lets assume that you are trying to give up a Fire food like tobacco or alcohol. The Nourishment Cycle suggests that you will want to eat a generous amount of Fire grains, vegetables, and fruits to fill the void of depleted Fire energy. You will also want to eat: (1) Healthy quantities of Wood foods, since Wood nourishes Fire; (2) Earth foods, since Earth may be depleted from lack of nourishment from Fire; and (3) Fewer Water foods, since Waters job is to check and diminish Fire energy.
  • What emotion would you be fostering by the taste sour, serving such foods as grapefruits, tart green apples, and yogurt, and oil and vinegar dressings?
  • Earth is associated with digestion, the stomach, and worry. We all know what excessive worry can do to our appetite and digestion. Sweet Earth foods help calm worry and tonify the digestive organs.
  • The energy of the lungs and large intestine, part of Metal, are paired together. Little wonder that aerobic activity provides a great antidote for constipation

The more time you spend with this model, the more you see and the deeper will be your understanding. I like to keep a diagram in my kitchen as a handy reference to be used as I cook and prepare meals. As you use it over time and become familiar with its wisdom, you will see many relationships and connections to relate to your own health needs.

For further discussion, see John Garvys The Five Phases of Foods, Ted Kaptchuks The Web that Has No Weaver, and Beinfeld & Korngolds Between Heaven and Earth.

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Winter Recipes: Cooking with Fire

Winter is a fun time to experiment with expansive, red, bitter foods from the phase Fire. When cold mornings make us feel sluggish and inclined to bundle under the covers, an expansive Fire breakfast like hot amaranth cereal prepared with red goji berries or raspberries, topped with a few chopped pistachio nuts can really hit the spot. Lunch or dinner might include polenta with your favorite tomato sauce, accompanied by a crisp salad made with endive and asparagus.

Quinoa, my favorite grain, also a Fire food, is packed with nutrition (see June07). It is a non-gluten grain high in protein and calcium. Red lentils, which can be paired with quinoa, are also a terrific Fire food. They require no advance soaking and cook up in just 15 minutes. A pot of cooked lentils added to your favorite sauted vegetables, perhaps chopped onion, celery and carrots, can be served on top of quinoa for a hearty meal in a bowl, good any time of the day, for breakfast through dinner.

There is so much you can do to experiment in your kitchen, both to balance meals and the emotional climate within your household. One of the best cookbooks that both explains 5-Phase Theory and provides recipes that correspond to the 5-Phase energies is Annemarie Colbins The Natural Gourmet. See also Daverick Leggetts Recipes for Self-Healing, for a slightly different and thought-provoking slant on this theme.

Since it is February, we again offer, as we did last year, our recipe for Valentine Red Velvet Soup. While beautiful gracing any Christmas table, too, this is particularly fun to serve for Valentines day, perhaps topped with a heart-shaped garnish, be it of puff pastry or sketched with a creative concoction (creamed parsnip?) outlined using a pastry tube. An added feature of this recipe is its 5-Phase balance, since all 5 energies are represented red lentils, Fire; parsnips, Earth; onion, Metal; beets, Water; and carrots, Wood.

Valentine Red Lentil Soup

(Serves ~10; Time: 1 Hour; Derived from Mary Estella)

  • 2 C. red lentils
  • 2 T. sesame, olive, unrefined coconut oil or butter
  • 2 large onions or 3 large leeks, diced
  • 4 parsnips or carrots, or a combination of these, chopped
  • 4 beets, peel ends and chopped
  • ~ 2 quarts homemade vegetable stock (or quality brand like Imagine) or filtered water
  • 6 Bay leaves
  • 3 T. Umeboshi vinegar, or quality sea salt, to taste
  • Garnish: parsley, broccoli flowerettes, roasted pumpkin seeds, etc.

Wash and drain red lentils. Scrub veggies and slice in -inch pieces.

Heat oil in soup pot and saut veggies for 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon.

Add lentils, stock or water to cover, and bay leaves; bring slowly to boil. Simmer 1 hour, with flame tamer if needed, until veggies are very soft, checking liquid as you go. Add salt or vinegar to taste. Remove bay leaves and puree with blender or immersion wand. If soup is too thick, add more water.

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Recommended Reading/Resources

Anxiety and Depression and Foods:

  • Annemarie Colbin,Ph.D, Food and Healing
  • Ronald Schmid, N.D.,Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine
  • Gerald G. May,M.D. Addiction and Grace
  • James Gordon, MD, Unstuck
  • Candace Pert, Ph.D Molecules of Emotion
  • Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., Food and Mood
  • Judith J. Wurtman, Ph.D., Managing Your Mind and Mood Through Food
  • Broda Barnes, MD, Hypothryroidism: The Unsuspected Illness
  • Maggie Jackson, Distracted
  • www.mayclinic.com/health/depression

Principles and Models for the Balance of Foods:

  • Annemarie Colbin, Book of Whole Meals; The Natural Gourmet; Food and Healing
  • Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods
  • Annemarie Colbin, Principles of Balance: A 10-hour class covering the major models and principles of balance of whole foods, the Natural Gourmet Institute, New York, NY.

Chinese Five-Phase Theory:

  • John Garvy, Jr.,., The Five Phases of Food
  • Ted Kaptchuk, The Web That Has No Weaver
  • Beinfeld & Korngold, Between Heaven and Earth
  • Annemarie Colbin, The Natural Gourmet
  • Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods
  • Daverick Leggett, Recipes for Self-Healing

Copyright 2009 Pathways4Heath.org

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  1. See December 07 for discussion. [link]
  2. Meat from grass-fed animals provides a natural 1: 1 ratio of omega-3s:-6s. Recall the general rule that omega-3s are the product of animals that eat leaves, while omega-6s are derived from the products of animals that ingest seeds. Perhaps we have made red meat unhealthy simply by the way we raise cattle today, in crowded feed lots, sustained by antibiotics as they are fattened on GMO corn/soy rather than the grass that is their natural food and to which their digestion is geared. When we eat commercial beef we are really eating GMO corn and soy. [link]
  3. Just think, since most cells in our body are replaced within a two year period and since the fats (especially the omega-3:omega-6 mix) that we eat every day directly translate into the composition of our cell membranes, we really have the ability to reprogram the way our body functions and the way cells communicate with each other just through the foods that we choose [link]
  4. New York Times, January 6, 2009: Elevated Blood Sugar Found Bad for Memory. [link]
  5. Berglund P Kessler; Mikocka, Turnbull, Moulding; and B.M. Kuehn quoted in Wise Traditions, Winter, 2008. [link]
  6. Hypothyroidism, which affects at least 40% of the population is a major factor in depression. Due to the variety of and sometimes conflicting set of symptoms, and also the difficulty is testing for it, hypothyroidism often goes undetected. [link]
  7. Key allergens are wheat, corn, dairy, soy, shellfish, and some nuts and fruits. [link]
  8. Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. and Founder, the Natural Gourmet Institute. Much of what I understand about the role of foods in depression and anxiety, I owe to my time in her classroom. Parts of the following discussion are based on her wealth of knowledge and years of experience. [link]
  9. Contrary to popular belief, food/mind/mood research suggests that candy and sugar are calming (Judith Wurtman, author of The Serotonin Solution). [link]
  10. Sugar is addictive. Research from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology suggests sugar can prompt the same clinical changes in the brain seen in people who abuse drugs such as cocaine and heroin. A sugar addiction can act as a gateway to later drug abuse. Also, cane sugar is the most refined and denatured of all plant-based sweeteners. Refining strips from the natural cane all fiber, nutrients, and water. The body is geared to digest foods in their natural plant form. Digesting sugar requires the system to tap into its mineral stores, depleting the body and creating cravings and deficiencies, particularly if sugars empty calories crowd out from the diet vital fats and proteins. [link]
  11. The ketogenic diet is really a type of fast: it pushes bad fats from the diet, while limiting carbohydrates and available glucose in the blood stream. This forces the body to ketosis, the production of ketone bodies that are metabolized as the only available source of energy for the brain. [link]
  12. See the Secret Life of Plants. [link]
  13. R.A. Miller, Gastric Acidity During the First Year of Life, Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1942. [link]
  14. Natural Solutions Magazine, February, 2009. [link]
  15. This very limited treatment of a complex topic is presented simply to support the ideas concerning depression and anxiety. Hopefully, it also whets the readers appetite. See John Garvy, and others cited. [link]