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Mood health and cognitive disorders: a guide to natural prevention.

Mood disorders and conditions of impaired or diminished cognition affect more than one in every four persons in the developed world. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, four out of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. The principal clinical manifestations of mood disorders include personality change, depression, agitation, aggression, addiction and anxiety. The major cognitive disorders are dementia and Alzheimer's disease, both of which are increasing at an unprecedented rate worldwide. In moderate to serious cases, these afflictions are every bit as debilitating as cancer or heart disease. In fact, in the UK, 92% of hospital consultations for mood disorders require hospital admission; women constitute about 60% of these patients.

Hormones vary in their intensity and effects with time. Consequently, men and women experience depression at different times in their lives. Men and women also differ in their experience of mood disorders and their response to antidepressants. Males tend to display more discernable symptoms of depression, including anger and restlessness whereas women tend to suffer the disease in relative silence. Societal attitudes towards these diseases have been slow to change. In the US, South America, Africa and Asia, many people still attach a moral stigma to mental illness. This mindset can seriously undermine the allocation of sufficient resources and attention to the need for treatment and a better popular and scientific understanding and diagnosis of these conditions. It has only been a few decades since the mentally ill were routinely packed off to dismal state-run institutions that did little more than deeply sedate them and provide minimal care and attention.


An Increasing Incidence of Cognitive Disease

Not unlike type 2 diabetes, many cancers and cardiovascular diseases, most mood and cognitive disorders are preventable; we cannot put the blame on any specific pathogen or genetic abnormality. The answer to the question of why these disorders are proliferating is simple: we are the enemy! Behavioural and environmental factors such as chronic stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, hormones and antibiotics, along with other chemicals in our foods and pharmaceuticals, and other endocrine-system-altering chemicals in our drinking water, polluted air, the breakdown of supportive social institutions, substance and alcohol abuse, and poverty all aggravate both mood and cognitive disease. In fact, the same lifestyle factors that are responsible for the general decline in the physical health of the average American or European appear to be closely correlated with the growing number of people suffering from depression, bipolar disorders, chronic debilitating anxiety and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, the rate of increase of Alzheimer's disease correlates roughly to the increased prevalence of diabetes and obesity in the population during the past 10-15 years. A growing body of compelling peer-reviewed evidence points to certain nutritional deficiencies and imbalances as salient factors in both mood and cognitive disorders. Diet and sedentary lifestyle clearly play a significant role in both mental and physical disease.

The current emphasis on pharmaceutical drugs as the preferred treatment option has failed both society and those afflicted with these disorders. If it is true, and evidence supports this assumption, that factors such as diet, environment, sedentary lifestyle and self-destructive habits such as smoking and binge drinking are instrumental in causing or, at the very least, exacerbating mood and cognitive disease, it is unlikely that the answer lies in new pharmaceutical agents or treatments. After four decades of research, no truly efficacious pharmaceutical treatment for Alzheimer's disease or dementia has been developed--and we are only now beginning to understand the biochemical modalities that characterize the brain of a typical Alzheimer's sufferer. Drugs do exist that are somewhat effective in treating the more severe symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disease; yet, these are all short-term solutions whose side-effects are often as disruptive as the disease they are meant to treat. Lithium, for example, commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, must be taken in such high doses that it causes severe adverse effects that include a dulled personality, flat lifeless emotions, memory loss, tremors or obesity. Consequently, the patients often refuse to take this and other medications or risk drug toxicity if the dose is not carefully monitored.

Given the enormous expense of care facilities equipped to deal with a patient suffering from such debilitating symptoms and the lack of

public financial assistance, the burden is falling on their families. Doubly troubling is that this is happening at the very time when the children have gone off to work or university and mum and dad were looking forward to the stage in their lives wherein they could finally enjoy the fruits of their careers. Instead, the spectre of bankruptcy looms, as well as a fear that they themselves will soon begin to experience the ominous early symptoms of Alzheimer's or dementia.


Preventive Lifestyle Modifications

There may be another approach to the prevention and treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, Alzheimer's disease and dementia worth seriously considering; one that eschews drugs in favour of some relatively simple lifestyle modifications and a greater emphasis on talk or psychotherapy. We know that strong correlations have been observed between some of our daily behaviours and lifestyle choices and the increase in the incidence of both cognitive and mood disorders.


There are two essential components to a nutritional strategy. The first is to observe some general dietary guidelines and the second is to consider some specific nutrients that may have an impact on mood and cognition. The connection between diet and mood and cognitive disorders and the putative neuroprotective properties of various nutrients has been well established.

General Guidelines

* Practice mild caloric restriction. Reduce the total number of carbohydrate calories consumed by about 10% without compromising general nutrition.

* Limit meat consumption to one meal per week and only consume organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat if you must consume it at all.

* Make green leafy vegetables your first priority and only eat meats, grains, nuts and other foods after eating at least one portion of green leafy veggies every day.

* Eliminate all foods and beverages that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and limit the consumption of all sugars to no more than 20 g/day. For sugar substitutes, consider stevia or xylitol, but not aspartame, sorbitol or saccharin.

* Avoid all fast food franchises unless you are certain that the food offered is free from chemical additives, extra salt, extra sugar and trans fats.

* Limit your consumption of all animal fats and dairy products to no more than 200 g/week.

* Consume primarily low glycaemic index foods for energy needs. Examples include fruit, vegetables, wholemeal bread, beans, brown rice and nuts.

* Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. Red wine is better than spirits but excessive alcohol is toxic ... regardless of the source.

Specific Mood Health Foods

* Omega-3 oils are supported by a compelling body of scientific evidence. A vegetable source of omega-3 is far preferable to fish oil as the source. Biotivia's Green Omega-3 is one such supplement that contains as much DHA and EPA as fish oil without the risk of heavy metals, pesticides, agricultural chemicals and other marine contaminants. Fish oil capsules can become rancid in a matter of a few weeks whereas Green Omega-3 has a shelf-life of more than 2 years.

* Red wine has been shown to contain a wide spectrum of beneficial polyphenols and other antioxidants and has been associated with the so-called French Paradox. Consumption should be limited to 2-3 glasses per day. To obtain sufficient amounts of the compound resveratrol, a sirtuin activator, it is necessary to take a good quality supplement.

* Make green tea your beverage of choice for hydration during the day. Make a concentrated blend of green tea and cinnamon and store it in the fridge. Then, when you feel like a drink, blend it down to suit your taste with hot or cold filtered water.

* Get one gram of calcium daily, preferably from veggie sources such as spinach, sprouts, grains and nuts.

* It is now generally accepted that most people are deficient in vitamin D, which is carried in the bloodstream to the liver and converted into the prohormone, calcidiol. If at least 30% of your body is not exposed to 30 minutes of direct sunlight every day, you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement. As daily doses of more than 50,000 units can be toxic, a reasonable dose comprises 15,000 units per day. It is very difficult to obtain adequate amounts of this vitamin from food alone and vitamin D deficiency is closely correlated with increased rates of certain cancers, neurological diseases and various other illnesses.

An Extraordinary New Supplement

By now, almost everyone has heard of resveratrol, the so-called miracle molecule. What is not so well known is that this phytoalexin--found in grape skins, peanuts and, in much higher concentrations, in the Chinese Giant Knotweed plant--may modulate certain pathways and biological processes that exert neuroprotective effects. Resveratrol is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and epigenetic agent, which is why this compound is being investigated by researchers and physicians as a possible therapy to at least slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Chronic inflammation is a by-product of cytotoxicity, one of the modalities that appears to characterize the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Several epidemiological studies indicate that the moderate consumption of wine is associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. These findings demonstrate a proteasome-dependent antiamyloidogenic activity of resveratrol and suggest that this natural compound has therapeutic potential in Alzheimer's disease.


Your Brain on Resveratrol

A peer-reviewed, double-blind human clinical trial was recently published that concluded that Biotivia's Bioforte, as both a single capsule and two-capsule dose, increased brain blood flow in 24 students at Northumbria University in the UK. This finding elucidates a possible role for this nutrient in the prevention and treatment of cognitive diseases. Several other studies have clearly demonstrated the in vivo neuroprotective properties of the red wine-derived polyphenol, resveratrol, strongly supporting the notion that natural metabolites of resveratrol may have biological activities. Furthermore, recent findings have shed light on the potential role of resveratrol in transcription- and degradation-dependent antiamyloidogenic mechanisms, suggesting that natural metabolites or potent synthetic analogues of resveratrol may have therapeutic potential in Alzheimer's disease.

For more information

James Betz

Biotivia Bioceuticals LLC

1 River Place, Suite 1001

New York, New York 10036, USA.

Tel. +1 800 458 0993
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Title Annotation:mood health
Publication:Nutraceutical Business & Technology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2010
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