Better Minded For The Holidays and Any Season

Nutrients for your best mood

The holidays can be a harder time than usual for our moods for a variety of reasons. We might be stressed by the increased activity of the season or sad because of those who are not around to celebrate this year. In addition, the challenges to a healthy diet that the holidays represent can also affect our mood because of the connection between the gut and the mind. Did you know that a large portion of your mood hormones, such as serotonin, are produced in your intestines?

The following studies looked at nutrients and diets that support better mood, as well as which nutrients might be helpful for those suffering from IBS, an intestinal disorder that also can have effects on cognition and mood.

Omega-3s reduced symptoms of depression

DHA improves depression scores

This was a small pilot study, without placebo, that included 28 adults with major depression who had not responded to medication or psychotherapy. Participants took 260 mg or 520 mg of the omega-3 DHA per day.

After eight weeks, 54 percent overall saw at least a 50 percent reduction in depression symptom scores, and 45 percent were in clinical remission, regardless of the dose of DHA.

Discussing the findings, doctors said the study, although small, is important because the clinical benefit was large, and because it focused on the omega-3, DHA, while most other depression studies using omega-3s have focused on the omega-3 EPA.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; 2018, Vol. 21, No. 3, 224-8

Omega-3s plus healthy diet

Doctors wanted to know if adding fish oil supplements to a Mediterranean-style diet would reduce depression symptoms. In this study, 152 adults self-reporting depression attended a Mediterranean cooking class every two weeks for three months. Half the group also received a food basket every two weeks with healthy foods, and took 450 mg of DHA plus 100 mg of EPA, twice per day, for six months.

After three months, those in the healthy food basket plus DHA with EPA group saw a 45 percent improvement in depression symptom scores, including anxiety and stress, compared to 26.8 percent for the group attending cooking classes with no dietary changes or omega-3 supplements.

Doctors said this is one of the first trials to show healthy dietary changes plus fish oil supplements can improve mental health in those with depression.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; 2018, Vol. 21, No. 3, 224-8

Nutrients improve cognition in aging, and mood in IBS

Pycnogenol reversed mild cognitive decline

Doctors said there is no treatment for minimal cognitive decline, something they measure using a standard index of mental functions. In this study, 87 people, aged 55 to 75, with cognitive index scores indicating mild impairment, took a placebo or 150 mg of the antioxidant Pycnogenol® per day. All participants maintained healthy sleep habits, regular exercise, and a low-sodium, low-sugar diet.

After eight weeks, while there was no change for placebo, those taking Pycnogenol saw an average 18 percent increase in cognitive index scores, to 25.64 from 21.64 at the start of the study. A score above 24 indicates normal cognition. The Pycnogenol group remembered friends and family better, where things were located, and learned gadgets and technology, managed money, and better dealt with people.

Reference: Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences; 2018, Vol. 62, No. 3, 279-84

Probiotic improved mood in IBS

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often have symptoms of major depression. New evidence suggests managing the gut microbiome may be an alternative approach to reducing or preventing depression. In this study, 40 adults newly diagnosed with IBS took a placebo or bacillus coagulans 30 minutes before the morning meal.

After 90 days, while the placebo group had not changed, those taking probiotics saw significant improvements in depression index scores, and on questionnaires rating quality-of-life, gastrointestinal discomfort, and sleepiness.

Commenting on the findings, doctors said bacillus coagulans showed “statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements” in symptoms of depression and IBS that suggest an important new treatment option for major depressive disorder in IBS.

Reference: Food and Nutrition Research; July 2018, Vol. 62, eCollection

Whether it’s the high-activity, food-tempting times of the holidays or just a normal Friday, your mind needs good nutrition to function at its best. Tailor your diet and/or supplementation program to give your brain what it needs to be its best.

Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any condition or disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, especially if you take prescription or over-the-counter medication and/or have a medical condition. For example, omega-3s and pycnogenol thin blood.

Article copyright 2018 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.