By Abra Pappa for NutritiousAmerica.com
Before you refill that coffee mug read this.
Last week a new research study from Harvard was released that stated drinking caffeinated coffee may help women fight depression. Women who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 20% decreased risk of developing depression over the 10 year period compared with those that consumed one cup or less a week, according to a study released in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
A holistic nutritionist weighs in:
I am concerned that this research is giving the green light to an extreme coffee habit, which in my opinion, can be ultimately detrimental to your health. When this study was released last week Twitter was filled with “tweets” of joy like, “coffee brews to beat the blues,” and this tweet from Arianna Huffington, “Caffeine can cure depression in women. One more reason for coffee addicts like me to celebrate our addiction.” Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy a cup of Joe from time to time, but it’s how people tend to misread research to reinforce an unhealthy habit that’s got me down. Researchers cautioned that more study is needed before they’d recommend adding several cups of coffee a day as therapy, but how many people skipped over that caution?
And what about the negative effects of 4-5 cups of coffee per day?
- Increased fatigue (which leads to depression)
- Adrenal fatigue
- Interrupted sleep patterns (which leads to depression)
- Increase release of the stress hormone cortisol.
I say, put down those 5 cups of coffee and pick up these “happy brain food” habits instead to get the neurotransmitters in your brain working efficiently to help ward off depression.
Happy Brain Food Habit #1 – Maximize Blood Sugar Balance
When blood sugar levels are low, serotonin and dopamine (the feel good hormones) levels fall, leading to feelings of irritability, loss of concentration, and fatigue. Your body’s natural response to low blood sugar levels is to crave sugar, or stimulants like caffeine, which provide a rapid blood sugar rise followed by a rapid slump, followed by irritability, loss of concentration, and fatigue. You see the cycle? To avoid this blood sugar roller coaster eat smaller nutrient dense meals more frequently (every 2-3 hours) and avoid stimulants like (you guessed it!) coffee, tea, processed foods, and sugar.
Happy Brain Food Habit #2 – Optimize Your Body’s Supply of Essential Fats
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), like Omega 3s and 6s, are essential to consume because our body does not make them; we must get them from food. EFAs play an important role in maintaining stable moods by ensuring that brain cells and neurotransmitters work efficiently. Every day you should consume foods like walnuts, black cod, salmon, flax seeds, and winter squash to be sure you are getting a sufficient supply of these essential fats.
Try this Butternut Squash Brownie recipe.
Happy Brain Food Habit #3 – Optimize Detoxification
A diet high in processed foods and stimulants and exposure to toxicity in the environment can leave your nervous system at a disadvantage. Improve your mood by cleansing the toxic load in your system. I recommend a gentle supported detox 1-2 times per year in either the spring or fall.
Happy Brain Food Habit #4 – Increase B6
Studies have shown that people deficient in the vitamin B6 are more likely to suffer from depression. Be sure to eat foods rich in B6 daily to support your bodies defense system. B6 is found in avocado, bananas, bran, carrots, lentils, salmon, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tuna, and wheatgerm.
Try these Salmon Kebabs.
Here’s to your health!!
Abra Pappa, Nutritious America
October 7th, 2011