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, and inadequate vegetables and fruits.
Good choices in food and supplement intake, to the contrary, improve everyday health as well as longevity.
EUFIC – The European Food Information Council, a non-profit organisation, was founded in 1995, and advocates for science-based information on food and health. Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) have been established by many countries throughout Europe, tailored to national culture, food preferences, and food availability.
“Common recommendations include eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates, and choosing foods which are lower in saturated fat, salt and sugar. The use of food groups, as in food pyramids and circles, ensures the inclusion of all basic foods and gives positive messages about what we should be eating as well as some qualifying information to help us avoid eating too much of certain foods. Although the details may vary – FBDG have been developed by different bodies at different times and for use in different cultures – there are many similarities between all the European FBDG.”
Food-Based Dietary Guidelines
Virtually all European Food-Based Dietary Guidelines include similar categories in a visual layout for easy understanding. An example from Greece: The Mediterranean Diet food pyramid.
- “Vegetables: Eat a wide variety of green and leafy vegetables. Limited intake of potatoes is recommended, because 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 color variety of fruits every day.
- Whole Grains: Consume whole grains, (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice). Processed grains, like potatoes, are high in starch and create sugar spikes in the blood stream, which are detrimental to health.
- Proteins: Focus on chicken, fish, nuts and beans, and non-animal proteins. 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: Limit butter and avoid trans fat. 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.
- 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.
An example from Greece: The Mediterranean Diet food pyramid.
Chronic Disease in Europe
While life expectancy in Europe has increased substantially since the late 1970’s, substantial years of that expectancy are 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.” 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:
- tobacco smoking,
- poor diet,
- high waist-to-hip ratio,
- high blood pressure,
- physical inactivity or low activity, and
- high alcohol use (more than two drinks per day.)
Studying the Effect of Nutrition on Mental Health
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 . Numerous studies have revealed the powerful connection between nutrition and mental health, and have 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 develop this burgeoning field.
Below you can read more about the diets that we’re researching.
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. 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:
- Fresh, non-starchy produce – fruits and vegetables
- Healthy, mono-saturated plant fats – olives, olive oil, avocado – and their micronutrient polyphenols
- Seeds, nuts and legumes as sources of fiber and protein
- Fish and eggs as proteins
- Moderate amounts of cultured dairy for protein, easy digestion and beneficial bacteria
- Whole and sprouted grains for healthy carbohydrates and fats
- Herbs and spices for anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammation properties
The Predimed Study showing reduction of cardiovascular risk with the Mediterranean Diet. New Brain Nutrition is continuing this study.
New Brain Nutrition will share the results of ongoing clinical trials on the effect of the Mediterranean and restriction elimination diets in a variety of individuals in different age groups, from children to senior citizens.
Nutrient Studies and Mental Health – Promising New Frontier
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. 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.
The Mediterranean diet described above can be used to test the effect of macronutrients on mental health. Other studies are focusing on the effect of micronutrient supplements. You can read more about macro- and micronutrients below.
Here we list some recent, previous studies on the mental health effects of micronutrients:
Some examples of previous and recent research:
- 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. Both the adults and their spouses reported that ADHD symptoms declined after the micronutrients treatment, compared to the group that received a placebo (although clinicians did not observe a difference between the treatment and control group). Furthermore, those adults who experienced depression alongside their ADHD at the start of the study reported a reduction of symptoms after the micronutrient treatment. This reduction was much less in the group that had received a placebo. While these results are very promising, it’s important to note that the treatment contained a much higher dosage and breath of nutrients than the vitamins you can buy in stores. Additionally, this study does not show for whom this treatment may be effective. So more studies are definitely needed.
- Following the earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand, rates of probable PTSD were reduced from 65% down to 19% with micronutrient supplementation, with no change in those not taking the nutrients.
- About half (46%) of the people with bipolar disorder who took micronutrients reported a more than 50% reduction of symptoms within 3 – 6 months.
- The 2014 study in #1 above has now been partially replicated in children with ADHD. Although the effects of the micronutrients on ADHD were limited to improved attention, it was noteworthy that those children taking the micronutrients showed a greater reduction in aggression and improved ability to regulate emotions relative to those children randomized to the placebo. They were also noted to show improved overall functioning. The response rates in the children was extremely comparable to the response rates observed in the adults.
What are Macronutrients? What are Micronutrients?
Macronutrients 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. Our health depends partially on the types of macronutrients we consume.
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.
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.
 EUFIC – The European Food Information Council. https://www.eufic.org/en/who-we-are/who-we-are-eufic. Accessed May 20, 2018.
 “Food-based dietary guidelines in Europe”, October 1, 2009. EUFIC. https://www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article/food-based-dietary-guidelines-in-europe.; Accessed online May 20, 2018
 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 Epidemiology, 32(9), 741–749. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-017-0315-2
 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
 Romagnolo, D. F., & Selmin, O. I. (2017). Mediterranean Diet and Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Nutrition Today, 52(5), 208-222. doi:10.1097/nt.0000000000000228
 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 Psychiatry, 204(04), 306-315. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.132126
 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 Research, 228(3), 373-379. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.080
 Rucklidge, J. J., Gately, D., & Kaplan, B. J. (2010). Database analysis of children and adolescents with Bipolar Disorder consuming a micronutrient formula. BMC Psychiatry, 10(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-10-74
 Rucklidge JJ , et al. (n.d.). Vitamin-mineral treatment improves aggression and emotional regulation in children with ADHD: a fully blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28967099