Healthy Nutrition and Physical Health

Scientific research and evidence have shown that your dietary intake can increase or reduce your risk for developing chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and even some forms of cancer. These chronic diseases are called “lifestyle diseases” because they come primarily from poor and habitual lifestyle choices such as high consumption of processed foods, bad fats, too much alcohol and nicotine, inadequate vegetables and fruits. Good choices in food and supplement intake, to the contrary, improve everyday health as well as longevity. The traditional food pyramid from the early 1990’s, which was then the guide to good nutrition, has now been replaced in 2011 by the new “My Plate.”[1] Researchers at Harvard University felt My Plate was influenced by the food industry and they in turn created “The Healthy Eating Plate”[2] which we share with you here as a guide to healthy nutrition.

The Healthy Eating Plate includes:

  • Vegetables: Eat an abundant variety, the more the better. Limited consumption of potatoes is recommended, however, as they are full of rapidly digested starch, which has the same roller-coaster effect on blood sugar as refined grains and sweets. In the short-term, these surges in blood sugar and insulin lead to hunger and overeating, and in the long term, to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders.
  • Fruits: Choose a rainbow of fruits every day.
  • Whole Grains: Choose whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, act like sugar in the body. Eating too many refined grains can raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Healthy Proteins: Choose fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients. Limit red meat and avoid processed meats, since eating even small quantities of these on a regular basis raises the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and weight gain.
  • Healthy Oils: Use olive, canola, and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table, since these healthy fats reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart. Limit butter and avoid trans fat.
  • Water: Drink water, tea, or coffee (with little or no sugar). Limit milk and dairy (1-2 servings per day) and juice (1 small glass a day) and avoid sugary drinks.”

Chronic Disease in Europe

While life expectancy in Europe has increased substantially since the late 1970’s, substantial years of that expectancy is lived in poor health.  The biggest killer in Europe is chronic disease.  “85% of deaths in the EU are due to chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and mental illness. Cancer from all causes is the predominant cause of death before the age of 65, whereas cardiovascular disease is the predominant cause of death after age 65.”[3]  Further, over half of the causes of premature death discussed in the European Cohort Consortium (above) are attributed to six lifestyle factors, in descending order:

  1. tobacco smoking,
  2. poor diet,
  3. high waist-to-hip ratio,
  4. high blood pressure,
  5. physical inactivity or low activity, and
  6. high alcohol use (more than two drinks per day.)

The Mediterranean Diet – What is It?

Given that poor diet is the second highest cause for premature death from chronic disease, we can’t help mentioning that the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to reduce significantly the levels of chronic disease based upon two thousand studies, 75% of which have been performed since 2005.[4] The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating habits of Greece, southern Italy, Spain, Morocco, Cypress, and Croatia, where less animal fat is consumed, body-mass index is lower, there is more physical activity, and moderate amounts of smoking and alcohol consumption. The Mediterranean diet, as developed from these countries, emphasizes:

  1. Fresh, non-starchy produce – fruits and vegetables
  2. Healthy, mono-saturated plant fats – olives, olive oil, avocado – and their micronutrient polyphenols
  3. Seeds, nuts and legumes as sources of fiber and protein
  4. Fish and eggs as proteins
  5. Moderate amounts of cultured dairy for protein, easy digestion and beneficial bacteria
  6. Whole and sprouted grains for healthy carbohydrates and fats
  7. Herbs and spices for anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammation properties

New Brain Nutrition is conducting clinical trials on the Mediterranean diet and also food elimination diets to confirm their effects and actions on mental health in a variety of individuals in different age groups, from children to senior citizens.

Mental Health Treatments with Psychiatric Drugs vs Nutrition

Mental Health Treatments and Medicines – Questionable Results

If we accept that nutrition has a direct effect on physical health, it stands to reason that nutrition has an effect on mental health is well.  Yet insufficient studies have been done in this area that describe the working mechanisms between nutrition, supplementation, and mental health. The primary model for treating mental health issues and disorders is psychopharmacology and various forms of psychotherapy.  Nutrition and diet are considered insignificant in their effects.  Unfortunately, the long-term success rate of medications (tranquilizers, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics) and therapy is not ideal. A series of studies questions the long-term efficacies of medications and therapies for the treatment of mental disorders.

  1. Research has shown that recovery and relapse rates show no improvement over those rates experienced 50 years prior to the development of these medicines.[5]
  1. In an eight year follow-up study, results found that children treated for ADHD with medications showed significant initial improvement in symptoms but had significant impairments later in adolescence, whether the issue was lack of medication adherence, or need for medication adjustments. Unfortunately, results showed that treated children do worse than children who were never treated.[6]
  1. Children treated with anti-depressants are three times more likely to develop bipolar disorder than children who did not receive the medication.[7]
  1. In randomized trials, where schizophrenic patients were kept on their medications, had their medications reduced, or had medications eliminated, showed that those who stayed on their anti-psychotics were less likely to recover from the disorder than those who reduced or eliminated the medication.[8]

Nutrition Studies and Mental Health – Promising New Frontier

We are at the beginning of the field of nutritional psychiatry, which has the possibility of being a significant new direction in mental health care.[9]  Numerous studies have revealed the powerful connection between nutrition and mental health, and supported the concept of the gut-brain axis, by which the brain and gut perform two-way communication. New Brain Nutrition is at the forefront of this research, and intends to conduct numerous research studies and clinical trials to further development in this burgeoning field. Some examples of previous and recent research:

  1. A 2014 randomized controlled trial showed preliminary evidence of the efficacy of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals, without omega fatty acids) in the treatment of ADHD symptoms in adults. In the micronutrient group, responses were double those in the placebo group, with many subjects going into remission of their depression. Hyperactivity and impulsivity were reduced into normal non-clinical ranges. ADHD patients reported their social relationships were less impairing than those who were on placebo. One year later, those who stayed on micronutrients maintained their positive results, while those who went off the micronutrients or back onto medications fared worse. Note: Dosing was multiples higher and breadth of nutrients was wider than those obtainable in store bought vitamins. Additionally, this study does not show for whom this treatment may be effective.  More studies are needed.[10]
  1. Rates of PTSD were reduced from 65% down to 18% following the earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand, with no change in those not taking the nutrients.[11]
  1. Severity of bipolar symptoms for example was reduced by greater than 50% in 46% of subjects[12]
  1. A 2010 study showed that use of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) in subthreshold psychotic states in teenagers resulted in only 4.9% of patients progressing to psychotic disorder one year later, vs 27.5% in the placebo group. This may offer a safe and efficacious strategy  for prevention, and needs further study.[13]

What are Micronutrients?

vitamins and mineralsMacronutrients are those nutritional items we consume in relatively large amounts.  They fall into three major categories: fats, protein, and carbohydrates.  Consumption of healthy amounts and healthy types of these three are important to our overall health.  Saturated fats, for example, are bad for health and need to be taken in minimally.  There are many different kinds of protein, from beef (relatively high in fat) to fish (lower in fat), to plant-based proteins (legumes, which have little to no fat).  There are carbohydrates from processed grains which are not as nutritious as whole grain carbohydrates.

Micronutrients, by contrast, are those vitamins and minerals that are also required for good health, but are best consumed in measured quantities.  That’s why we buy formulations with specific numbers of milligrams based on recommended dosages.

Vitamins fall into two categories: water soluble (dissolvable in water within our bodies), and fat soluble (absorbed into our body and stored in fat for later use).

Water Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin B1 – Thiamin
  • Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
  • Niacin – Nicotinamide, Nicotinic Acid
  • Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxamine
  • Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin
  • Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid

Fat Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A – Retinol, Retinal, Retinoic Acid, Provitamin A – Carotenoids
  • Vitamin D – Cholecalciferol
  • Vitamin E – Tocopherol
  • Vitamin K – Phylloquinone, Menaquinones

Minerals as well fall into two categories: Major minerals, and Trace minerals.  We need more than 100mg of major minerals each day.  We need less than 100mg per day of trace minerals.  Each of them however is important.

Water Soluble Vitamins

  • sodium
  • potassium
  • chloride
  • phosphorus
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • sulfur

Fat Soluble Vitamins

  • Iron
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Fluoride
  • Iodine
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

In our New Brain Nutrition research studies, we will be testing vitamin and mineral supplementation to determine what levels are therapeutic, and learning what types of individuals need specific levels of supplementation.

Footnotes

[1] US Food and Drug Administration. A Brief History of USDA Food Guides. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/brief-history-usda-food-guides accessed May 20, 2018

[2] Harvard Health Publishing. The Healthy Eating Plate, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-eating-plate Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed online May 20, 2018

[3] Brennan, P., Perola, M., van Ommen, G.-J., Riboli, E., & On behalf of the European Cohort Consortium. (2017). Chronic disease research in Europe and the need for integrated population cohorts. European Journal of Epidemiology32(9), 741–749. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-017-0315-2

[4] Romagnolo, D. F., & Selmin, O. I. (2017). Mediterranean Diet and Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Nutrition Today52(5), 208-222. doi:10.1097/nt.0000000000000228

[5] Mulder, Roger T, and Christopher Ma Frampton. “Outcome of Mood Disorders before Psychopharmacology: A Systematic Review.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 48, no. 3, 2013, pp. 224–236., doi:10.1177/0004867413514490.De

[6] Molina, Brooke S.G. et al. The MTA at 8 Years: Prospective Follow-up of Children Treated for Combined-Type ADHD in a Multisite Study Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry , Volume 48 , Issue 5 , 484 – 500;  https://doi.org/10.1097/CHI.0b013e31819c23d0

[7] Age effects on antidepressant-induced manic conversion. Martin A, Young C, Leckman JF, Mukonoweshuro C, Rosenheck R, Leslie D. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Aug;158(8):773-80.DOI: 10.1001/archpedi.158.8.773

[8] Wunderink, L., Nieboer, R. M., Wiersma, D., Sytema, S., & Nienhuis, F. J. (2013). Recovery in Remitted First-Episode Psychosis at 7 Years of Follow-up of an Early Dose Reduction/Discontinuation or Maintenance Treatment Strategy. JAMA Psychiatry70(9), 913. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.19

[9] Cavaye, Joice, Why Nutritional Psychiatry is the Future of Mental Health Treatment. The Conversation. March 1, 2018. http://theconversation.com/why-nutritional-psychiatry-is-the-future-of-mental-health-treatment-92545. Accessed May 20, 2018

[10] Rucklidge, J. J., Frampton, C. M., Gorman, B., & Boggis, A. (2014). Vitamin–mineral treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry204(04), 306-315. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.132126

[11] Kaplan, B. J., Rucklidge, J. J., Romijn, A. R., & Dolph, M. (2015). A randomised trial of nutrient supplements to minimise psychological stress after a natural disaster. Psychiatry Research228(3), 373-379. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.080

[12] Rucklidge, J. J., Gately, D., & Kaplan, B. J. (2010). Database analysis of children and adolescents with Bipolar Disorder consuming a micronutrient formula. BMC Psychiatry10(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-10-74 [13] Amminger, G. P., Schäfer, M. R., Papageorgiou, K., Klier, C. M., Cotton, S. M., Harrigan, S. M., … Berger, G. E. (2010). Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids for Indicated Prevention of Psychotic Disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry67(2), 146. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.192