Archive for tag: depression

Food for Thought

Surely you've heard the phrase: "Eat to live, not live to eat." It seems that our relationship with food is extremely complicated. It turns out, it's not just our mindset right now, but also every attitude that we've had about food from our childhood that affects how, what and why we eat. Did you ever make cookies with your grandmother, or have a special birthday dinner? Was there some treat that you only had on special occasions? Did you go trick-or-treating for Halloween? Unless we've somehow managed to avoid all of those things, food has become a reward and measure of comfort in our lives.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with this. But we have to be aware of it. As we go through our lives running crazy, working ourselves ridiculous hours, studying, going from obligation to obligation, taking on way too much, it's really easy to seek consolation in our food.

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Of course, there's more to it than that. Eating these things ignites reward chemistry in our brains. Dopamine is produced leading to the sensation of pleasure. Serotonin, which most people recognize as the hormone affecting depression, is dramatically affected. In fact about 95% of the serotonin is produced in the gut. This not only regulates how much food we eat, but how we feel about how much food we eat. It has direct impact on our mood about food.

There are other, seemingly less interesting, hormones involved with food intake. Leptin, produced in adipose tissue, regulates food intake and fat storage. Deficits or defects in it lead to overeating. Another hormone, CCK, which is released from the small intestine while you eat, provides negative feedback about the quantity of food. Deficits in it (or damage to the small intestine) lead to overeating. Ghrelin, insulin, cortisol, and glucagon are also involved. *Whew!*

You see, we treat food as medicine, not just because of the hormones it induces, but because of the nutrients it provides. We can use food to medicate or nourish our bodies.

We need those nutrients to live. They provide the building blocks of everything that we are, the chemicals that sustain us, and the energy that keeps us going.

I've been doing some reading (in all my spare time) about the psychology of eating. It turns out there's a whole Institute for the Psychology of Eating. I've been exploring the ideas of why people eat; how much food we really need to live; and how we can nourish ourselves body/mind/spirit without overindulging. The topic itself is absolutely fascinating, and challenging in ways beyond all of the science.

It's food for thought.

Everybody have an amazing week!

For more information on the psychology of eating and hormonal control of eating, check out:

Update for the Week

It's raining again. It looks like the Florida winter might be over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that for every other place in the country the weather has been a LOT worse than it has here. It's been, I think, the coldest winter that I've experienced since I've been here (since 2005). The crazy thing about living in Florida is that for about 5 months out of the year, it doesn't rain hardly at all. It's very, very dry (as far as rainfall goes). Of course, the humidity is still 5000%, but it doesn't rain. Come May/June it rains EVERY-SINGLE-DAY. Sometimes it only rains for 15 minutes in a day, sometimes all day, and sometimes for hours/the whole day. But it's fairly predictable.

So today, it's rained all day. And after all of the months of sun (even when it was cold), I find myself a little bit depressed. So, I went home and took my vitamin D. Vitamin D has been a buzz-study subject for a few years now. Running a quick search on Pubmed on "benefits of vitamin D," returns about 840 articles. But searching for just vitamin D yields over 58,000! Shortage of vitamin D has been linked to Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Obesity, and Cancer. Whoa! So, what we're finding out is that the vast majority of people are deficient in vitamin D, ESPECIALLY here in Florida. For those of you coming out of a cold, cold winter up north -- I feel for you. I really do. You probably need some vitamin D too. Here's an article on Vitamin D and Depression from the Vitamin D Council. 

In other news, I have finals for the Master's in Nutrition and Functional Medicine this week: Nutritional Biochemistry -- which has been completely different than what I had at National; and also Clinical Nutrition, which has been completely different as well. I've been pleased that there's been some overlap with the information. And I have found that the background that I've received here at National has helped me with the master's at UWS. I've already registered for classes next quarter, there. I'm taking Immune Imbalances and Inflammation and the Botanical Medicine elective. I can't wait to see what shows up.

This next week brings last minute quizzes, papers, and presentations. I'm doing a presentation for PT on therapies for Raynaud's phenomenon (which I've had since I was a kid). I have yet to decide what I'm going to do my Botanical paper on. I'm leaning toward Oregon Grape Root -- but I may choose an adaptogen instead. I need to prep for a practical on knee rehab. No rest for the weary/wicked.

Some of my good friends and classmates are taking boards this weekend. Good Luck to them (and to you, if that's your weekend adventure). We have the weekend off from acupuncture, and I'll be visiting the Gluten Free for Life expo. If you're in the area, it's usually quite worth it.

Last year, Grey and I went and filled up bags and bags of gluten free goodies from vendors. I think we had GF snacks for months. I may have to find a partner in crime to go with me this time. Note to self: it's always better to go towards the END of the expo. Vendors are less worried about running out of supplies and visitors feel less guilty about taking a couple extra.

And lastly, I hope everybody had a GREAT St Patrick's Day. My granny, whose birthday was 3/17 (although I can't remember what year), would've been somewhere around 100 years old right about now. She's been gone quite some time. Little Irish woman, red hair and freckles -- was born on St Patrick's Day. Happy Birthday Granny -- whatever plane you're on.