Breakfast Articles > Special Feature
2 Breakfasts And A Banana -
A Cure For Depression
By Dr Breakfast
So you're bummed out. You're in the doldrums. Simple tasks seem hard this week. What are you going to do to fix your recurring depression? Let's face it... you don't consider yourself enough of a hardship case to go see a doctor. Maybe you should do the next best thing... eat two breakfasts.
Research performed at both the University of California at Davis and the Harvard Medical School has shown that symptoms of depression can be alleviated through nutrient supplementation and changes in diet. Harvard University researcher J. Michael Murphy documented that when children who "rarely" ate breakfast switched to "often" eating breakfast, they became less hyperactive, anxious and depressed.
Considering that at any given time, 8% to 10% of the population experiences some form of clinical depression, it is important to understand depression and the positive effects that breakfast may play upon it.
Think of the human brain as a kind of muffin bakery with a slippery floor. Your bakery has a pantry with many ingredients (neurotransmitters). Now consider that the subcortical area at the center of your brain is a large metal bowl waiting for the right ingredients to make your muffin (mood). As your team of bakers takes ingredients from the pantry to the bowl, they have every intention to create a great muffin, but sometimes they grab the wrong ingredients. Sometimes they slip and too much of one ingredient gets dumped into the bowl. The result is a sad muffin.
The key to creating the right balance in both brain and muffin is to 1) stock your pantry with the right ingredients and 2) to keep your bakery clean.
THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS
"Mother Nature's a mad scientist, Jerry!" - Kosmo Kramer, Seinfeld
Neurotransmitters in the brain act as synaptic messengers to start, continue or stop biochemical processes. The vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and other nutrients that you put into your body determine how many, and what kind of, messengers you have delivering your mental packages.
In terms of depression, your body has the ability to create "groovy messengers". The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine have shown themselves to be instrumental in relaxation. Low levels of serotonin are believed to cause mood disorders and depression. There are certain foods that promote the production of these key neurotransmitters.
Try These Recipes:
Banana Fruit Toast
Banana Orange Date Oatmeal Breakfast Banana Split
Low-fat Whole Wheat Pancakes
Whole Wheat Turkey Breakfast Muffins
Carbohydrates in foods such as the amazing banana, turkey, whole-wheat bread, brown rice and tomatoes elevate serotonin levels. Both bananas and turkey contain tryptophan, a protein that converts into serotonin.
Exercise also raises serotonin levels.
A proper intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs) may also, over time, alleviate depression. Studies have show that people suffering from depression have 40% fewer EFAs in their brain than healthy individuals. Fatty fish like herring and mackerel are good sources of EFAs. Flaxseed (a great addition to muffin, pancake and waffle batters) and purslane are good vegetable sources of EFAs.
Try These Recipes:
Flaxseed Oatmeal Pancakes
Wheat And Flaxseed Pancake Mix
Bran and Flaxseed Muffins
CLEANING THE KITCHEN
Just as too much stuff in the kitchen creates a difficult working environment, over-eating causes increases in insulin and cortisone levels. It also lowers your testosterone. Extreme fluctuations in these hormones have been associated with depression. To counter this effect, eat five small meals rather than two or three large ones. Two breakfasts, ideally of the healthier variety -- oatmeal, fruit, whole-wheat toast or egg-white dishes -- may be good start to keep these hormone levels balanced.
QUICK FIX TO A HEALTHY MUFFIN
The story is as old as time. What you get out is what you put in. Making the right food choices provides fuel for a healthy body, an active mind and a good mood. But eating the wrong foods is like shooting heroin. Weaning yourself from years of poor eating habits may be a challenge. Your body will experience withdrawal symptoms as it adjusts to a smarter diet. It may very well be that a bad mood and edginess is the first positive effect in achieving a longer-lasting piece of mind.
To conquer life's daily discouragements (bummers as opposed to depression), nature has provided us with two miracle drugs you may already be ingesting. In moderation, the caffeine in coffee and tea aids in overcoming depression lethargy. Two studies have found a clear significant inverse association between coffee drinking and risk of suicide.
The second miracle is sweet delicious chocolate, which contains a high concentration of phenethylamine. This chemical stimulates the nervous system and triggers the release of pleasurable opium-like compounds known as endorphins. It also potentiates the activity of dopamine, the neuro-chemical associated with sexual arousal.
Before rushing out to begin your diet of strictly chocolate-covered bananas, remember the all-things-in-moderation rule - even for healthy things. The phenethylamine in chocolate may give you a natural high, but if you have too much, you will suffer from natural withdrawals as soon as you go without. Recent studies show that even something as healthy sounding as Vitamin A can put you at greater risk for hip fractures if taken in excess.
Try These Recipes:
Chocolate Cookie Oatmeal
Chunky Chocolate Nut Flapjacks
Chocolate Lovers Pancake Sandwich
DR BREAKFAST'S CONCLUSION
If your life sucks all the time and you think about doing yourself in, go to a real doctor. Doctor Breakfast is only an honorary title. If you get really bummed out a couple times a year, change your diet and your outlook may very well follow.
So until next time... take two breakfasts and a banana and call me in the morning.
- "How Modern Eating Habits May Contribute to Depression", Ron Hoggan M.A. & James Braly M.D.
- Nutrients and Depression, Constantine Bitsas
- 6 Reasons To Eat Breakfast, USA Today, May 2, 1999
- Coffee Science Information Centre
- Chocolate And Health, naturalinvestor.com
This article was written by Mr Breakfast (aka Eddy Chavey).
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