Friday, September 21, 2007

foods that beat stress

Again, a cut and paste, this time from No time to summarize, must run to the store and get some fixin's for dinner!

Diet Can Play a Huge Role in Causing Stress
-Carbohydrate-rich foods and sweets such as doughnuts boost the release of serotonin in the body, helping the body to regulate anxiety and mood. But these foods also cause a quick rise and fall in blood-sugar levels, and when the sugar level falls, people often eat more of those foods to get another boost -- leading to the consumption of an enormous amount of calories.

-Trans-fatty acids found in fast food reduce circulation and raise blood pressure, keeping the body in a constant state of stress.

-Many people reach for caffeine when stressed, but caffeine boosts adrenaline production and only puts the body more on edge. When opting for caffeine, try green, black, or oolong tea, which give the caffeine boost but also contain amino acids such as L-theanine that help to ease tension.

-Alcohol can make you feel good in the moment, but it will also disturb sleep patterns, ultimately producing more stress, both physiologically and psychologically.

Foods to Help Soothe Stressed-Out Nerves
Avocados, Baked Potatoes (with Skin), Bananas, Yellow-Fin Tuna
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin B6.
-Why it helps: Stress depletes B6, which helps produce serotonin.
-Best foods for B6: Fortified whole grain cereals, chick peas, salmon, lean beef, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, white potatoes with skin, oatmeal, bananas, pistachios, lentils, tomato paste, barley, rice (wild or brown), peppers, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, broccoli rabe, carrots, brussels sprouts, peanut butter, eggs, shrimp, tofu, apricots, watermelon, avocado, strawberries, whole grain bread.

Clams, Fat-Free Milk, Fat-Free Yogurt, Salmon
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin B12.
-Why it helps: It helps form GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.
-Best foods for B12: shellfish, salmon, fortified whole-grain cereals, enriched or fortified soy milk, trout, tuna, lean beef, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, egg, cheese.

Asparagus, Chickpeas, Lentils, Oatmeal
-Helpful nutrient: folate (folic acid).
-Why it helps: It helps make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
-Best foods for folate: Fortified whole-grain cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, oatmeal, turnip greens, spinach, mustard greens, green peas, artichokes, okra, beets, parsnips, broccoli, broccoli rabe, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, oranges and juice, brussels sprouts, papaya, seaweed, berries, cauliflower, corn, whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta.

Almonds, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds, Tofu, Wild Rice
-Helpful nutrient: magnesium.
-Why it helps: Stress depletes magnesium, which stimulates the production of GABA and helps make dopamine.
-Best foods for magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, amaranth, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, quinoa, tempeh, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, soybeans, millet, beans, artichoke hearts, peanuts, peanut butter, chickpeas, brown rice, whole-grain bread, sesame seed, wheat germ, flax seed.

Broccoli, Orange Juice, Red and Green Peppers, Strawberries
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin C
-Why it helps: It boosts your immune system and fights brain-cell damage resulting from constant exposure to cortisol (a stress hormone).
-Best foods for vitamin C: guava, bell peppers, orange juice, hot chile peppers, oranges, grapefruit juice, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papaya, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos, grapefruit, white potatoes with skin, mustard greens, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, clementines, rutabagas, turnip greens, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, green tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, tangerines, lemon juice, okra, lychees, summer squash, persimmons.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Food additives raise hyperactivity in the kids

Direct from the NY Times to you. Eh, why bother paraphrasing when I can just cut & paste?

September 6, 2007
Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds


Common food additives and colorings can increase hyperactive behavior in a broad range of children, a study being released today found.

It was the first time researchers conclusively and scientifically confirmed a link that had long been suspected by many parents. Numerous support groups for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have for years recommended removing such ingredients from diets, although experts have continued to debate the evidence.

But the new, carefully controlled study shows that some artificial additives increase hyperactivity and decrease attention span in a wide range of children, not just those for whom overactivity has been diagnosed as a learning problem.

The new research, which was financed by Britain's Food Standards Agency and published online by the British medical journal The Lancet, presents regulators with a number of issues: Should foods containing preservatives and artificial colors carry warning labels? Should some additives be prohibited entirely? Should school cafeterias remove foods with additives?

After all, the researchers note that overactivity makes learning more difficult for children.

"A mix of additives commonly found in children's foods increases the mean level of hyperactivity," wrote the researchers, led by Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton. "The finding lends strong support for the case that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviors (inattention, impulsivity and overactivity) at least into middle childhood."

In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children's activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colors and preservatives.

But Professor Stevenson said it was premature to go further. "We've set up an issue that needs more exploration," he said in a telephone interview.

In response to the study, some pediatricians cautioned that a diet without artificial colors and preservatives might cause other problems for children.

"Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child's life?" said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can't eat the things that their friends do."

Still, Dr. Spencer called the advice of the British food agency "sensible," noting that some children may be "supersensitive to additives" just as some people are more sensitive to caffeine.

The Lancet study focused on a variety of food colorings and on sodium benzoate, a common preservative. The researchers note that removing this preservative from food could cause problems in itself by increasing spoilage. In the six-week trial, researchers gave a randomly selected group of several hundred 3-year-olds and of 8- and 9-year-olds drinks with additives — colors and sodium benzoate — that mimicked the mix in children's drinks that are commercially available. The dose of additives consumed was equivalent to that in one or two servings of candy a day, the researchers said. Their diet was otherwise controlled to avoid other sources of the additives.

A control group was given an additive-free placebo drink that looked and tasted the same.

All of the children were evaluated for inattention and hyperactivity by parents, teachers (for school-age children) and through a computer test. Neither the researchers nor the subject knew which drink any of the children had consumed.

The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives. The study did not try to link specific consumption with specific behaviors. The study's authors noted that other research suggested that the hyperactivity could increase in as little as an hour after artificial additives were consumed.

The Lancet study could not determine which of the additives caused the poor performances because all the children received a mix. "This was a very complicated study, and it will take an even more complicated study to figure out which components caused the effect," Professor Stevenson said.