Blood Sugar and your Mental Health

Blood Sugar Imbalance and its Impact on your Mental Health

roller coaster

Riding the blood sugar roller coaster day after day can impact your mental health.  The highs followed by crashes may accentuate the symptoms of a mood disorder.  Research has tied processed, refined sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression and can worsen the outcomes of schizophrenia. 

Blood sugar in the form of glucose is the basic fuel for all brain operation and activity.  If it is inadequate, mental health systems can start to shut down.  Glandular imbalances will result as the glands struggle to regulate the sugar level. This can cause symptoms such as high adrenaline which can look like anxiety, panic attacks or violence. 

Just by making tweaks to your diet you can improve your blood sugar regulation and your mental health.

The Impact of Blood Sugar Dysregulation on our Mental Health

By now, most of know that sugar and processed foods are bad for our heart, cholesterol and waistline.  But not as much attention is giving to what it does to our brain. 

Here is what Happens

bread pasta rice

  1. You eat a meal or have a drink with excess sugar. Say you start your day with a bagel, muffin or donut, or have cereal with milk, banana and some OJ.
  2. The pancreas releases insulin to bring glucose to the cells but because of the high amount of sugar, the insulin response is excessive
  3. About 2 hours later so much sugar has been put into storage that you now have low blood sugar and are feeling weak, shaky, brain fog, fatigue, change in mood (depression) and cravings
  4. The body responds to this as an emergency so it dumps adrenaline into the system. This causes anxiety, racing heart, irritability, anxiousness, panic, outbursts and more
  5. You reach for a processed carb or sugar product to get your sugar levels back up. Thus, the cycle begins again.

This cycle contributes to chronic inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is not only associated with physical health conditions such as heart disease but also with brain function such as depression and brain fog. 

A surge of adrenaline is not always a bad thing. In prehistoric times if you were being chased by a wild animal you got a surge of adrenaline to run away.  Adrenaline prepares you for vigorous muscular activity.  It raises your heart rate and turns off digestion so now you are prepared for fight or flight.  In modern society it is not the wild animal that raises our adrenaline but instead the constant demands we put on our body such as stress from our processed, nutrient deficient, highly processed diet.

   Symptoms of Imbalanced Blood Sugar (highs and lows)

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Abnormal weight (too high or too low)
  • waking after 2-3 hours of sleep at night and cannot fall right back to sleep
  • Dizziness
  • headaches
  • irritability if meals are missed
  • nervous habits
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • violent outbursts
  • Unable to concentrate (ADD)
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Crying spells
  • Nightmares
  • confusion
  • tightness in chest
  • constant hunger
  • tremors
  • obsessive compulsive behavior
  • poor word finding ability
  • brain fog
  • blurred vision
  • insomnia
  • cravings for sugar, sweets, soda, coffee, alcohol, refined carbs
  • fainting
  • cannot tolerate bright lights or loud sounds
  • joint pain
  • no appetite at breakfast, may wakeup feeling nauseous, skip breakfast
  • highs and lows/mood swings within a one day period

 

What Causes Blood Sugar Dysregulation (in addition to diet)

fast food burger

  • Standard American diet
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Irregular eating patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating imbalanced meals (meals with mostly refined carbs and little in the way of quality protein/fats)
  • Refined carbs (bagels, pasta, muffins, cookies, pastries, donuts, bread, rolls, etc.)
  • Gluten intolerance and other food allergies/insensitivities
  • Excess caffeine intake
  • Alcoholism
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Stress
  • Excess blood sugar lowering medication
  • Insulin resistance
  • Birth control pills
  • Fructose

Physical Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance

  • Darkened skin along jawline or neck (this occurs due to elevated insulin levels present with elevated blood sugar)
  • Extra abdominal fat-this can include fat on back, chest, sides of waist and shoulder blade area
  • Base of neck fat pad-this fat tends to be very inflammatory
  • Enlarged breasts in men (elevated blood sugar in men stimulates activity of enzymes that shifts testosterone to estrogen which promotes growth of breast tissue)
  • Note: you may not always see these physical signs

How to Balance Blood Sugar

balanced meal

Some foods that will help to balance blood sugar include almonds (very filling), quinoa (great substitute for rice), millet (it has a combination of fiber and phytonutrients), hummus (protein packed), avocado (filled with healthy fat), lentils (good source of protein) and walnuts (make a great snack with omega 3’s).

Consume foods that release energy slowly into the blood stream such as vegetables, berries, and nuts and seeds.

 

Treatment of blood sugar imbalances involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle measures that minimize the shock to the pancreas and the adrenal glands and stabilize carbohydrate metabolism.  It is better to address it now because highs and lows in blood sugar will eventually lead to highs only (meaning diabetes and insulin resistance)

  • Decrease the consumption of simple carbs and sugars, caffeine, alcohol,
  • Eat three meals per day and at least 2 additional snacks. DO NOT SKIP MEALS (once you have balance blood sugar then you can try intermittent fasting)
  • Provide a balance at each meal/snack of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and fiber.
  • Eat foods closer to the form they are found in nature.
  • This can look like:

o   a protein smoothie with avocado and greens included for breakfast (skip the fruit or add in berries or ½ a banana)

o   snack on handful of almonds mid-morning

o   for lunch have chicken salad on a bed of lettuce (if you must have bread, opt for one slice only) with a Bubbies pickle and a side salad

o   mid-day snack on raw vegetables and hummus

o   for dinner have salmon, roasted sweet potato and a vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. 

o   AVOID packages foods, sugary foods, artificially sweetened foods and drinks, refined carbs such as pasta and bread, white rice, dried fruits such as banana or apple chips and processed corn products

 

 

  Beneficial Nutrients

  • Protein: it is used to mitigate the symptoms of hypoglycemia because it can keep sugar stable while keeping metabolism high. Protein takes longer to be digested than simple carbs and this will prevent sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar levels.  The glucose from digested protein (and from complex carbs is released into the bloodstream gradually which helps to regulate blood glucose levels.)  Consume 2-4 ounces of animal protein or 4-6 ounces of plant protein at each meal. For snacks reduce the amount to half.  Protein amounts at breakfast can be slightly increased.  High quality sources of protein include grass fed meats, wild caught fish, bean/legumes and raw dairy. 
  • Cobalamin (B12): along with other B vitamins helps to convert consumed foods into glucose that can be utilized by the body.  Thus, a B12 deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels. Eating foods rich in B12 will help to increase energy levels by converting food into glucose.  In supplement form take 300 mcg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach.  Best forms include methylcobalamin, adenosycobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  Most B complexes do not contain enough B12 so it is best to take an additional B12 supplement. Food sources include grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, wild game, organ meats, grass fed milk, cottage cheese and fish/shellfish.
  • Niacin (B3): It is needed to produce insulin.  It helps to promote proper digestion by helping with the production of stomach acid used in the metabolism of carbs.  It can also be useful for treating depression and anxiety associated with hypoglycemia.  Niacin will cause a “flush” within minutes of ingesting.  Food sources include fish, meats, peanuts, whole grains mushrooms, seeds, eggs and almonds. Supplement form take 100 mg. 2 timers per day with meals.  Check with your doctor. before taking, as it can interact with some medications.

 

Bottom Line:

just because you do not have diabetes does not mean you are safe from blood sugar ups and downs.  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein and fat along with your complex carbs.  Don’t skip meals and opt for a diet of 80% whole foods and 20% of your processed, junk food.  If you are suffering from any mental health disorder, this is a simple step to take. 

 

References

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
  2. http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/conquering-anxiety-depression-and-fatigue-without-drugs-the-role-of-hypoglycemia-2/
  3. http://diabeteslibrary.org
  4. http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/hypoglycemia-causes-and-natural-treatments/
  5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/how-eating-sugar-can-cause-mental-illness.aspx
  6. Golan, R. (1995) Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Use These Herbs for Perimenopause and Menopausal Symptoms

11 Herbs for Menopause and Perimenopause

lemon-balm

Around the age of 40 women begin perimenopause and the transition to menopause.  During this time levels of estrogen, progesterone and the androgens fluctuate.  Your body will spend years gradually and naturally going through this process. This transition can last 5 to 10 years and for some up to 13 years.   Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55.  During this time your periods may stop and then start again or may occur more frequently and may increase or decrease in intensity and flow. You are officially in menopause when your period has stopped for one full year.

Herbs to Ease Perimenopause/Menopause Symptoms

black-cohosh

Note: Always check first with your health professional when adding in herbs to your regimen. Some herbs interact with meds and some are not safe to take with certain health conditions. 

Motherwort: This herb can be your ally in reducing irritability and anxiety that may occur during the transition time.  It can calm the heart during perimenopause heart palpitations.  If you have heavy bleeding during perimenopause, then don’t overdo the use of this herb.  It can aid in menopausal insomnia. Avoid this herb if you have low blood pressure.  Take in tea or in tincture.  50-80 drops 2-4 times per day in tincture form.  As a tea use 1 tsp. of dried herb.  Drink 4 oz. three times per day. 

Shatavari: This herb is a wonderful one to use during these times of transition. It is useful for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, anxiety and memory loss.  It also is known to increase libido.  Use 30-60 drops 1-2 times per day depending on the severity of your symptoms.  As a tincture, use 40-80 drops 3x per day.  As a tea use of dried root and consume up to 2 cups per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating or add ginger and consume as a tea only. 

Passion Flower: This herb has many uses and it is useful for menopausal mood swings.  It can aid in reducing panic attacks, calms irritability and helps with stress relief.  If you can’t turn your mind off at night, use passion flower.  Use in tea blend or take 60-80 drops of tincture 3 times per day.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases.  Do not use with MAOI’s.

Sage: This is beneficial for stimulating memory and is useful for the brain fog that is sometimes associated with perimenopause.   It is also good for excessive sweating which means it can be supportive for those with night sweats during perimenopause. It is also used for anxiety, hot flashes and fatigue associated with menopausal symptoms. Take in tincture 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day or use 1 tsp. in a tea blend 3 times per day. 

Fennel: While many of you may be familiar with fennel for digestive issues, fennel is used to offer hormonal support as well.  One of its main components appears to have natural hormone like actions.  It can be useful for bloating, menstrual pain and hot flashes.  As a tea use 1-2 tsp in one cup hot water. 

Skullcap: This herb is considered a brain tonic and is useful for ADD, poor memory and mental fatigue. It is also useful for PMS, menstrual pain/cramps, menopausal depression and mood swings, hot flashes and irritation.  Use in a tea blend or take ½ t. of tincture as needed.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases. 

Kudzu root: This herb is beneficial for PMS and peri menopausal symptoms such as acne, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.  Take in tincture form of 60 drops 2-3 times per day. 

Lemon Balm: Use this herb for menstrual cramping and depression associated with perimenopause.  This is considered a very safe herb and safe for children as well. However, if you have low thyroid uses it is best to minimize the amount of lemon balm you consume as it can lower thyroid function. 

Hops: This herb is used for menstrual cramping. This is best used in tea or tincture. It also has a sedative effect.  As a tincture, take 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day.  Avoid with usage of sedative medication.  Do not use if you have depression. 

Black Cohosh: This herb has been popularized for use for hot flashes yet it also has many other beneficial uses. This herb can also be useful for those with depression.  Avoid use of this herb if you have liver disease.  Take 20-40 drops of tincture per day. 

Chaste Tree Berry: Some of you may be familiar with Chaste Tree (Vitex) for hormonal support, however a word of caution-it is very easy to overdo it with this herb. Taking too much may increase progesterone levels and thus increase your symptoms.  If using this herb, take only one capsule per day in the morning or 15 drops of tincture in the morning.  Avoid usage if you are taking antipsychotic medications. 

Pycnogenol:  (actually it is 12 with the addition of this one but Pycnogenol supplement is not an herb per se rather an extract) This is a branded, registered trade form of  French maritime pine bark extract and has a number of uses.  It can be useful for endometriosis, painful periods, menopausal symptoms and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles (at 100 mg. per day).  A recent study builds upon evidence from previous studies showing that it can reduce elevated cardiovascular risk factors that are often related to perimenopause such as increased triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar.  Those participating in the study also had reduced hot flashes, reduction of night sweats and mood improvement. 

Going Beyond Herbs to Reduce Symptoms

basket of veggies

For some of you with mild symptoms, an herb or two may do the trick.  For those of you that continue to struggle with symptoms your body may need more support than just a few herbs.  Addressing and identifying imbalances in the body will be key for you, such as addressing blood sugar, adrenals, thyroid, digestion and/or other areas to restore balance.  Dietary changes along with targeted supplementation may be needed depending on your current diet and symptoms.

For instance, some of you may enter perimenopause sooner than others due to poor health or due to your diet. 

Estrogen dominance becomes an issue along with its side effects during perimenopause for some due to low progesterone levels.  The key is to find out what is the issue for you and then address it. 

The bottom line is yes, there is something you can do instead of having to put up with these symptoms for years!

 

 

Sources

Blankenship, V. (2016) Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. (notes from)

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Crow, D. (2016) Medicinal Plants & Spiritual Evolution Intensive.  Online Program (notes from)

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum.  NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/product-innovations/pycnogenol-R-Normalizes-Cardio-Risks-During-Perimenopause?

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

Going Gluten Free

The Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN, Herbalist

brown rice

 

You may opt to go gluten free for various health reasons.  Avoiding gluten means avoiding gluten containing grains which are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt (and oats if it does not say gluten free). 

Many people who avoid these grains substitute with gluten free products. While I don’t recommend this substitution due to the still high processed carb and sugar content, there are also other reasons to be concerned.

Are you Getting too Much Arsenic in your Diet by going Gluten Free?

wheat-with x thru it

 

Many gluten free products contain brown rice and or white rice.   It is not so bad if you consume brown/white rice from time to time but if you eat gluten free products daily, chances are, you are consuming a lot rice.

  Some of these products contain 90 times more arsenic than what is allowed in drinking water.  Even low levels of arsenic can contribute to headaches, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues respiratory illness and more.  Arsenic is found in brown rice at higher concentrations than what is found in white rice. Organic rice will contain arsenic too. 

Rice is grown in flooded fields and it absorbs more arsenic from the environment than any other crop.  Arsenic is a chemical element found naturally in our environment.  It is present in our soil, water and air.  Organic arsenic is used in pesticides and fertilizers.  When used this way, the arsenic can stay in the soil for years after crops are harvested.  For example, much of the rice harvested in the US is grown on former cotton fields where farmers used arsenic based pesticides to control weevils. 

Who Should Watch Their Arsenic Intake

Arsenic can accumulate in your hair, skin, nails and even in your internal organs. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and infants
  • People who eat a lot of rice
  • People who are on a gluten free diet

Symptoms of Arsenic Toxicity

(from low level, long term exposure (i.e.: gluten free diet))

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the more common/frequent symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancer
  • Increase in heart disease
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • headaches

How to Know if You Have High Arsenic Levels

Just because you are on a gluten free diet doesn’t mean you require testing.  This should be determined on an individual basis and is between you and your health care provider. 

On average, there is 10-20 milligrams of arsenic in the average human body.  Exceeding these levels can contribute to health problems.

  • Arsenic 24- hour urine test: this is the preferred test
  • Raid Urine Spot Test: this test is not as accurate
  • Blood Test: this can be used in conjunction with the 24-hour test and do monitor levels
  • Hair Mineral Analysis: You can request this test on your own and have your holistic nutritionist or ND go over the results with you.

How to Reduce Arsenic in Your Diet

 

  • Rice, wine and fruit juices can contain higher arsenic amounts than other foods
  • Organic foods do not necessarily contain less since arsenic is found in the soil
  • Talk to your doctor about giving rice cereal to your infant: consider other foods as your baby’s first food. Babies should have no more than one serving of rice cereal per day.
  • Limit the amount of gluten free products you consume such as gf pizza, bread, pasta and so forth.
  • Alternate your grains: Learn how to cook and bake using other grains such as millet, teff and quinoa
  • Brown rice contains 30-80% more arsenic than white rice. This is because it still contains the bran and germ portion of the kernel which is where most of the arsenic concentrates. 
  • If you do use brown rice opt for basmati as it will contain less arsenic. For white rice, opt for basmati as well, to reduce exposure.
  • Rinse your rice before use. This can reduce 25-30% of the arsenic content.

Bottom Line

Eat a well-balanced diet. You don’t have to eliminate rice products entirely from your diet but instead mix it up with other grains and fruits and vegetables. For instance, if you always eat your burger and sandwich on a gluten free bun, try a lettuce wrap or paleo coconut wraps.  Instead of having rice as a side dish, have quinoa, cauliflower rice, teff or millet.  Instead of brown rice pasta try lentil or quinoa pasta.  There are many options!

Research shows that while chelation may be good to remove heavy metals it may not be as effective to remove arsenic.  Instead a dietary protocol including  mineral supplementation can help to remove arsenic.  Depending on your level of toxicity, it may take up to 2 years to reduce toxic levels. 

 

Recipes

Here are some a couple gluten free recipes that do not contain brown rice/Visit my blog page for many more recipes

 

 

Sources

http://theceliacmd.com/2015/03/arsenic-in-rice-the-gluten-free-diet-facts-and-tips/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

http://drlwislon.com/articles/ARSENIC.htm

Haas, E.& Levin, B. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition.  CA: Celestial Arts

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Stop the Mental Health Madness in our Youth: Here is How

Stop the Mental Health Madness in Our Youth

Here is How You Can Help Your Child

Our children are getting diagnosed earlier and more often with mental health issues and some are placed on medication for these disorders as early as three years of age.  What are we missing?

boy looking out train window

Could Nutrition Education Help One’s Emotional State?

slicing pepper for cooking

The answer is YES!   A study called SMILES which was done over the course of 12 weeks in Australia found that those who received 7 hours of nutrition education had improved mood while those who received social support did not have significant improvements. These people had to meet the criteria for a major depressive disorder and had to meet the criteria for a nutrient deficient diet such as one of mostly processed foods. They did not provide a diet to follow and did not advise them to go gluten free or dairy free but rather educated them on the importance of whole foods.  (sources: https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/02/smiles-study-depression-nutrition/  and Jacka; FN, et. al. A randomized controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (The SMILES trial). BMC Med. 2017 Jan. 30;15(1);23)

This study shows us great hope and promise just by changing the diet. But this study also raises some questions-what about targeted and individualized nutrition-do some need to avoid certain food groups, do some need extra nutrients and should some address gut health and so forth?  Would their results have been even greater with targeted/individualized nutrition addressing root causes?

The Plan

food-journal-menu

I have created a plan below that targets the mental health of your adolescent or teen.  If you want to help your child but don’t know where to go to get the holistic help you want and don’t know what to do-scroll below for plan options so that your child can get the nutritional and holistic support he or she needs. 

I have plans to make this as easy as possible for you and your child.

Not only am I a holistic nutrition and herb professional (along with an MSW) but prior to my career change I was a mother with a teen with a mood disorder.  I have been where you are and I want to help you.

We can do this together to get your child feeling better. 

  • Are you exhausted and depressed just by seeing your child struggle and suffer?
  • Are you stressed and don’t know what to do to help him or her?
  • Do you feel like you have tried everything and seen every doctor out there?
  • Are you worried about the future of your child?
  • Are you tired of meeting with teachers and counselors and getting calls from school?
  • Is every day an effort just to get through?
  • Do you feel hopeless and don’t know what else to do to help your child?

Scroll down for The Stop the Madness plan

What Does This Mean for You?

If you or a family member is struggling with a mood issue, this is great news.  Just by improving one’s diet, mood issues can decrease. 

As a nutrition professional who specializes in nutrition for mental health, this means you can get the education you need.  Did you know that “Nutrition Education” for a health issue can be applied to your flexible spending account as well?

But what do you then do with all that education? Don’t know where to start? 

Is It Still Too Overwhelming?

stressed person

If you have an adolescent or teen struggling with a mental health issue and you don’t know where to begin, I am here to tell you that it can be much easier than you think is possible. I have been where you are and I have learned a great deal along the way. 

When my son went through severe depression, it was overwhelming to say the least-everything from a complete overhaul of our diet, removing foods, adding in supplements and ripping apart my pantry.  It was a lot or work I admit, but that is why I want to break it down and make it simple for you.

 I took a leave of absence from work during that time and spent hours’ day after day doing research-most of us cannot do that so I am here to help you!  I can show you what to do or I can also do a lot of the work for you-you decide! 

If you are trying to help your family member, they don’t have to attend sessions. I’m sure your youth or teen has been dragged to so many appointments-they don’t need to go to one more.   I can guide and assist you to make this as easy and simple as possible.  Nutrient dense meals and adding in targeted supplements and herbs into meals can be done.  They don’t have to swallow a bunch of pills or live on greens all day long. 

I can guide you every step of the way from laying out a step by step plan, to showing you how to cook simple, nutritious meals to making over your pantry and knowing what to look for in the grocery store. 

Your family member’s mental health state can improve and you can do this using natural ingredients. 

Are you exhausted and stressed by this situation going on in your home? If so, see if a plan below fits your needs. 

 Stop the Madness Plan

person sunset background

If you want to feel better or want to see your child not suffer any longer than view my plans below to get results.  Call me with any questions or to sign up. 303-522-0381

 

Option 1: For local Castle Rock , CO Area families

  • Initial assessment
  • One follow up consult
  • One cooking workshop
  • One pantry makeover
  • One grocery store outing
  • One plan of action-step by step guide (including a 5 -day sample menu plan)
  • List of targeted supplements and herbs with dosing and suggestions
  • Informational/educational handouts specific to your child’s needs
  • Recipes provided
  • 2 email follow-ups included

Option 2: For Distant Clients

  • Initial assessment (can be phone or skype)
  • 2 follow up consults
  • One plan of action -step by step guide (including a 5-day sample menu plan)
  • List of targeted supplements and herbs with dosing and suggestions
  • Informational/educational handouts specific to your child’s needs
  • Guide for cleaning out your pantry and what to replace
  • Recipes
  • 2 emails follow-ups included

Option 3: For local clients

If you feel like you cannot do this alone or don’t have the time on your plate, call me and we can discuss options such as in your home cooking, shopping and pantry clean out assistance and in home consults.  I want to make this as easy as possible for you. 

Option 4: For local and Distant Clients

Nutrition education only-hourly rate. 

 

What is the best option for you?

Call me to discuss and I can guide you to the best option for you and your family.  Pricing discussed during this free initial phone consult. 303-522-0381

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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7 Reasons to Add this Booster Food into your Diet: Nutritional Yeast

Why You Should Add this Booster Food to your Daily Meals: Nutritional Yeast

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN®, Herbalist

Nutritional Yeast: What is it?

nutritional yeast in bowl

 

It is not a plant nor animal food but rather a fungus like mushrooms.  It is a good addition to a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free and dairy free diet. 

I have Candida, I am avoiding foods that contain yeast, can I eat nutritional yeast?

The yeast you find in breads and beer is a live and active yeast.  Nutritional yeast comes in a dried flake form and is not an active yeast.  This means you cannot use it to make bread or beer but more importantly it will not lead to overgrowth of yeast/candida in the body.  Therefore, because it has been deactivated it cannot cause or contribute to candida. You may read otherwise on the web but nutritional yeast is safe to it. 

What causes overgrowth of candida (healthy people will always have some candida) is a diet high in sugary/processed foods and drinks, antibiotic use and birth control pills to name a few root causes.  To learn more about what candida is, what are more causes, symptoms and more importantly, how to address it read this article

What are the Benefits of Adding this Food into my Diet?

  • Beta Glucan fibers found in nutritional yeast help to maintain the body’s defense against pathogens (this was found in a study in which participants consumed a spoonful daily)
  • Another study in which participants consumed one half a spoonful found that mood states improved and they had significant boost in feelings of vigor.
  • It is a great addition to vegan and vegetarian diets due to its protein and B vitamin content. It also has a cheesy taste so many use it to replace cheese in their diet. 
  • It contains all nine essential amino acids.
  • It is a rich source of 14 minerals and 17 vitamins
  • It has antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • It may be useful for candida, chronic acne, diarrhea, and immune system support.
  • Athletes use it for an energy boost

How Do I use it in My Recipes?

zucchini pasta tomato nutrtional yeast

You can add nutritional yeast to many dishes that you make.  Add it at the end to hot and cooked dishes as high temperatures may destroy the nutritional benefits of the yeast.  For instance, add some to your cooked chicken curry dish or to your favorite pasta sauce. 

  • Sprinkle it on your stove topped cooked popcorn
  • Add it into hummus, pesto, pasta sauces and cold soups
  • Sprinkle onto your salads and cooked vegetables
  • Use it as you would use grated cheese
  • Add to bean and rice or whole grain dishes.

Recipes with Nutritional Yeast

Will my local Grocery Store Carry Nutritional Yeast?

  • Your local traditional grocery store may not but many are adding healthier options. For instance, many Wal Marts and King Soopers now contain nutritional yeast products. Whole Foods and other local natural grocery stores and vitamin shops should carry nutritional yeast. 
  • Otherwise order online from www.thrivemarket.com, amazon or many other healthy whole foods or vitamin websites.
  • Because I only use a small amount per day I store mine in a glass jar in the fridge to maintain freshness. Otherwise, store in your pantry or cupboard. It should keep for up to 2 years. 

What You Need to Know

  • Those with Gout may want to keep the amount to ½ a teaspoon per day due to its purine content
  • You may have heard that some nutritional yeast products contain lead. These brands have no detectable lead in them-Bob’s Red Mill, NOW, Bragg’s, Dr. Fuhrman, and Red Star.  However, no matter what the brand, it is safe to consume 2 tablespoons per day. 
  • Some nutritional yeast products contain B12 while others do not. Read the label. If you are a vegan or vegetarian and avoid meats, it is still best to supplement with B12 in a methylated form. It is a myth that B12 is naturally found in nutritional yeast-it must be added in. 
  • It does NOT contain MSG as you may hear this rumor. Yeast is a natural source of the umami flavor or natural glutamic acid.  The glutamic acid is bound to other amino acids. The glutamic acid that is MSG is not bound.  When you consume glutamic acid from real foods, your body controls how much is absorbed.  Excess glutamic acid is passed off as waste not stored in your body.  MSG that is added to fast food and processed foods is an excitotoxin that overexcites your cells. 

 

Sources

http://nutritionfacts.org/2017/02/14/benefits-of-nutritional-yeast-to-prevent-the-common-cold/?

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/04/nutritional-yeast-aspx

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Wood, R. (2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Books

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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10 Reasons Why you Should Add this Grain (Seed) into your Diet

Millet:  10 Reasons to Add this “Grain” to your Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Herbalist, BCHN ®

millet grain

 

What is Millet?

It is a gluten free grain that is tiny in size and round and may be white, gray, yellow or red.  Technically millet is a seed not a grain but it is categorized with grains from a culinary perspective.  It is thought to have originated in North Africa and has been consumed since prehistoric times. 

What are the Benefits to Eating Millet?

  • Heart protective: The magnesium and fiber content is what makes this such as heart healthy grain. Since it also contains potassium it can aid in reducing high blood pressure. 
  • Lowers your cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk: Adding WHOLE grains (not processed grains) such as millet into your diet has been shown to lower your risk for certain cancers and heart disease and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Fiber content: Millet contains insoluble fiber which can help prevent gallstones. The fiber content is also protective against breast cancer.  Eating fiber rich grains also lowers the incidence of colon cancer.  Fiber in millet is ideal for lowering your LDL (your “bad” cholesterol).
  • Protective against childhood asthma: This is also due to the magnesium content. Studies have shown that children consuming a diet of whole grains (and fish) have lower incidence of asthma. 
  • Nutrient Dense: Millet is a good source of protein, copper, manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins and magnesium. One cup of cooked millet contains 6 protein grams, 41 carb grams 2.26 fiber grams, 1.74 fat grams and 207 calories. Of all the cereal grains, millet has the richest amino acid profile and the highest iron content. 
  • The magnesium content is also beneficial for migraines and high blood pressure
  • Contains plant lignans: These are converted by healthy gut flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans which is thought to protect against breast cancer and other hormone related cancers and heart disease.  
  • Can improve digestive health: Because of its fiber content, millet can aid with elimination and constipation as well as excess gas, bloating and cramping. It is the easiest of all the grains to digest due to its high alkaline ash content. 
  • Can aid with detoxification: Millet is rich in antioxidants which are beneficial in neutralizing free radicals.
  • Helps to fight fatigue: It is considered among the top foods to eat to fight fatigue due to its B vitamin, iron and macro nutrient content.

 

 

How Do I Cook with Millet?

Basic cooking method

  • Before you use your millet grain you should rinse it under running water to remove any remaining left over dirt and debris.
  • After rinsing, you can cook it as one part millet to two parts liquid such as water or broth. After it boils, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for roughly 25 minutes.  The texture cooked this way will be fluffy like rice. If you want a creamier millet, then stir it frequently and add a little more water to it every now and then. 
  • If you want a nuttier flavor, then you can roast the grains prior to boiling. Place the grains in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir frequently. When the millet has a golden color then remove from the skillet and add to the water. 

Simple Serving Suggestions

  • Use as you would quinoa to make a grain/veggie/protein bowl. Add raw or cooked vegetables (use left- over veggies from last night’s dinner) and add a protein such as tempeh, chicken or fish.  Toss it with a homemade dressing and you have a simple meal to take to work for lunch!
  • Use with your meal instead of potatoes or rice as your starch
  • Use ground millet in bread and muffin recipes
  • Add cooked millet to your soups
  • Combine cooked millet with chopped vegetables, GF bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. Form into patties and bake at 350 degrees F. until done. 

Buying and Storing your Millet

millet stalks

  • When not using your millet, store it in your pantry, in a cool and dark place and it will keep for several months.
  • You can also store it in your refrigerator. (I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge)
  • If your millet has a harsh aftertaste, this means it is rancid and you should discard it.
  • It’s shelf life is not as stable as some other grains so do not purchase this one in bulk.
  • I recommend purchasing your millet from small companies. In CO you can purchase your millet from CJ Milling www.cjmilling.com.  If you don’t have a local source then opt to purchase millet from the refrigerator section of your natural grocery store.

How Do I use Millet Flour?

  • Millet flour has a distinct sweet flavor. Purchase in small amounts since it can turn bitter rapidly. If you purchase from a small local company, ask how fresh the flour is.   You can also grind your own millet into flour in a high- power blender.  Store the flour in the freezer to maintain freshness. 

What Else Should I know about Millet?

  • Millet contains goitrogen, which is a substance that can interfere with thyroid hormone manufacture. Thus, if you have a thyroid issue, just don’t eat millet every day. But still feel free to consume it in moderation.
  • Although it is a gluten free grain/seed, those with celiac disease should start off with a small amount to see if they tolerate it. This is because millet does contain prolamines that are similar to the alpha-gliadin of wheat.  That being said, millet is usually well tolerated by those with celiac disease. 
  • Millet is a GMO free grain and is not sprayed according to  Jennifer at CJ Milling in CO.  She stated that millet is a very safe grain to grow even conventionally since it is not a GMO nor sprayed crop.  You may see organic millet in your store-this is where you save your money and buy this grain/seed non organic. 

 

 

Sources

Murray, M. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.  NY: Atria Books

Rogers, J. (1991) The Healing Foods Cookbook.  PA: Rodale Press.

Wood, R. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Press

http://www.Whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=53

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.  Call today at 303-522-0381

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today!

 

 

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Cleansing and Detoxing for the New Year

 

Cleansing or Detoxing for the New Year?

ginger-1714106_640

I don’t recommend detoxes not cleanses  to the general public.  On an individual basis, someone may need a targeted detox/cleanse for a health condition that they may have.  For instance, does someone have congested lymph nodes, did they go through chemotherapy or were they recently exposed to chemical compounds?  Detoxes tend to be very restrictive and thus difficult to maintain and when they go off the detox, they tend to go back to old/bad eating habits-nothing learned, nothing gained. 

I feel that people are wasting their money on detox packages that you see in every health store and on line especially now at the beginning of a new year.  They contain a bunch of herbs and mostly fiber.  Do they have the right number of herbs and the right part of the herb?  And what are they trying to detox and what organ are they detoxing?  Most people don’t know what they are really doing and it really should be done only with guidance.

What is the detox teaching you?  So, you drink shakes and take a bunch of pills for a month-then what?  Do you just go back to your old eating habits? 

A 2009 investigation found that not a single company behind 15 detox supplements could supply any form of evidence for their efficacy.  These brands could not event tell you what these products were “detoxing” from the body.  (http://archive.senseaboutscience.org/data/files/resources/48/Detox-Dossier-Embargoed-until-0001-5th-jan-2009.pdf)

Your Body and Detox

Your body has many detox pathways. In a healthy body these pathways are running smoothly. However, because of the environment we live in, the food we eat, the polluted air and water and mineral deficient soil, our pathways can become overburdened.  What’s the answer?  It’s not in a box.

If you want to detox your body daily, you need to change your diet and start eating fiber rich, nutrient rich foods. That includes adding in fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and herbs into the diet.  It does not mean drink smoothies all day long.  Feed your body well instead.  While some cleanse plans include whole organic fruits and vegetables, and can be supportive, ask yourself what are you trying to detox? What is your goal?  And more importantly, what is your plan after the cleanse is over?  And lastly, as you know yourself best, is it healthy for you to fast, skip protein, eat very low calorie, etc.. for the cleanse. 

Most people that want to do a detox are eating the standard American diet.  The worst thing they could do then is fast, or limit their food intake and types of foods. This can put them on a blood sugar rollercoaster (if they aren’t already on it from the standard American diet) and increase nutrient deficiencies. 

Bottom Line

Save your money and skip the detox kits and supplements and visit your local organic produce aisle instead. 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Potato Diet. Should you try it for Weight Loss?

The All Potato Diet: Should you Try it for Weight Loss

By Karen Brennan, NC, MSW, BCHN®, Herbalist

potato-2

Its seems at the start of each new year, people resolve to lose weight and try all sorts of crazy diets to achieve this goal.  Someone recently just started this diet after hearing about someone being on the “all potato” diet for one year and losing a large amount of weight.  He asked me what I thought.  Here are my thoughts on the All Potato Diet. 

What is the Potato Diet?

The potato diet is a mono diet in which you eat only potatoes.  Most people will try it for a month and others have touted to lose weight by following the potato diet for up to a year. 

Should you Try it?

  I don’t recommend any diet that has you eat just one food. I also don’t recommend most cleanses, juice fasts and detox diets either. (hint: start with getting the hang of eating a healthy whole foods diet first)

 Here are Some Reasons why you Should Avoid the Potato Diet

potatoes-1

  • Difficult to maintain and sustain. This is a bland and boring diet. How long can you go eating only potatoes?  At some point, for most people, one is going to give in and eat other foods.  When this happens, the odds are that you won’t be making the healthiest food choices. 
  • Low in Protein. For men, this type of diet is too low protein. For many women, this diet is also too low in protein.  Eating 5 potatoes per day is only going to give you around 20 grams of protein.  The average sedentary male needs 60 grams or more per day and the average sedentary female needs around 45 grams per day or more. Trying to meet your protein needs via potatoes, well let’s just say that ends up being a lot of potatoes and a lot of calories.  So, while you may lose weight eating only potatoes, how much muscle mass are you going to lose as well?
  • Nutrient deficient: Eat only one type of food for any length of time and you are bound to have some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. To obtain the needed macro and micro nutrients necessary, you need to eat a balance of proteins, carbs and fats along with a plenty of vegetables that contain phytonutrients.  We need fat for healthy brain function so unless you are putting grass fed butter on that potato, you may lose weight but you may end up with mood issues, brain fog and forgetfulness.  Is it worth it?
  • Crash dieting: How many calories are you consuming on a potato diet? If your calories count is too low, your body will then go into starvation mode and to hold on to its fat mass your metabolic rate will slow down. That means weight loss will slow down and may eventually come to a halt. 
  • Not Sustainable: What happens when you go back to eating real food? Now you transition from a mono, low calorie diet and switch back to your old ways of eating:  Your metabolic rate has slowed down so now when you eat you will gain what was lost at a more rapid pace
  • Potatoes are a GMO crop: Unless you are only eating organic potatoes, not only is this diet nutrient deficient but now you are filling your body up with toxins. Glyphosate has been shown to disrupt the gut microbiome.  A healthy gut microbiome has been associated with maintaining a healthy weight while disrupted gut health has been associated with obesity. 
  • What was your diet/health like prior to the potato diet? The odds are if you are trying such a drastic crash diet, your diet prior to this was not good either.  Most overweight people are calorie sufficient but nutrient deficient.  Now you go on a very restrictive diet which only compounds the problem further.  Most people have other health issues in addition to the added weight, such as insomnia, fatigue, mood issues. Consuming a nutrient deficient diet such as this will not help these additional issues. 
  • What did the diet teach you? If you eat a potato diet and then go back to eating processed, sugary, starchy foods as the main component of your diet, what have you learned about eating healthy as a way of life? Nothing!  Instead get the education you need to change your habits to lose weight gradually on a diet that you can sustain. 

 

Benefits to Eating Potatoes

Potatoes are a great addition to your diet, they just shouldn’t be the only part of your diet.  Potatoes contain B6, potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B3 and pantothenic acid.  They contain phytonutrients and have antioxidant activity.  They also contain blood pressure lowering compounds.  So, add them into your diet (just not in the fried form please) but keep it balanced!

What to do Instead to Lose Weight

salad

Instead get the help of someone who can evaluate your current eating patterns (food journal) and your health issues.  Gradual weight loss is best with a plan that leaves you feeling full, satisfied and one that is doable and sustainable for you. That is why most diet plans and diet books don’t work; because they aren’t individualized to meet not only your personal health needs but considers lifestyle factors as well. 

While we can live on a low carb diet but we cannot live on a diet that is void of protein and fat. Side effects will occur. Therefore, a balanced diet is best.  Start your day with protein and fats, and increase the number of carbs throughout the day so that your dinner contains most your carbs.  This can look like a green protein smoothie for breakfast, a large salad for lunch with added protein and homemade salad dressing, snacks of handful of nuts or nut butter with fruit, then dinner of a protein source such as wild caught salmon (good source of fats too) with a side of vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Sources

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/08/mono-diet-potato-diet-penn-jillette.html

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/05/weight-loss-metabolism-slows-down-hunger-increases.html

http://fortune.com/2016/01/14/genetically-modified-potatoes/

 http://drpompa.com/additional-resources/health-tips/the-dangers-of-glyphosate-an-interview-with-dr-stephanie-seneff

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/

https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48

http://www.howmuchprotein.com/foods/potato/

http://time.com/4374959/protein-health-benefits-nutrition/

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® and herbalist, is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Saffron for Depression and Anxiety

Saffron for Moderate to Severe Depression (and anxiety too)

saffron-pic-2

When thinking of herbs, I think most people think of St. John’s wort for depression. However, there is another herb that is starting to get attention and shows great promise. 

While most of my research was on saffron for depression, saffron has been shown to be helpful for anxiety as well.

What is Saffron

saffron-pic-1

This is considered the most labor intensive herb to harvest and thus the reason for the high price for purchase.  Because it is so expensive, beware of cheaper substitutes that may be passed off as the real thing.  In an analysis of 151 samples of saffron, results showed that up to 90% contain one or more foreign substances. 

The reason that it is so expensive is because it takes 150,000 flowers to produce 2.2 pounds of the yellow staining saffron spice which comes from the pistil, the orange-red stigma and styles in the center of the bloom.  The pistils need to be removed and dried by hand and then are sold whole or in a powder that dissolves and turns bright yellow in water. 

It is known in traditional Chinese medicine as fan hong hua, and prescribed for depression.  The saffron tea is said to lift the spirits and calm the nerves. 

 The safranal, which is an essential oil in the plant, is said to me the main constituent that is effective for depression. 

What the Research Shows

The recent interest in saffron for depression is due to some clinical research done in 2005 and 2006.  The Hamilton Depression score was used to determine the subject’s level of depression.  Double blind randomized trials were carried out.  2% safranal saffron extract was orally given in tablet form.  This was in doses of 30 mg./divided, given 2 times daily.  The first trial was small and compared the dose of saffron versus the placebo in 40 subjects.  The effects were noticed within the first week and increased during the 6-week trial.  The average Hamilton Depression score at the start was 23 and at the end it was 10.  The placebo group averaged an improvement down to 18 on the Hamilton Depression score. 

Saffron was then compared to imipramine (common name Tofranil) and fluoxetine.  (Fluoxetine is the active ingredient in Prozac).  Two randomized double blind trials were carried out over a period of 6 weeks with 30 subjects in the imipramine trial and 40 in the fluoxetine trial.  In the imipramine study the subjects were given 100 mg. doses and in the other trial they were given 20 mg. daily.  A significant improvement was noted again almost immediately after treatment with the saffron.  There were no adverse side effects from those taking the saffron but in the subjects taking the drugs they noted sweating and dry mouth as common side effects. 

Two more recent studies looking at the hydro-alcoholic extract of the saffron petals on those with mild depression.  The first study was published in 2006.  It was a double- blind placebo controlled trial conducted on 40 people over a 6 -week period.  The petal extract was given in 30 mg. doses per day.  Improvement in the saffron group was noted in the first week while no significant improvement was noted in the placebo group.  During the 6 -week trial period the saffron petal extract proved to be significantly more effective than a placebo. 

Another study using the petal extract was done in 2007.  This study compared the petal extract once again to fluoxetine. The trial was conducted over an 8- week period with 40 people in the study who had Hamilton Depression scores that averaged at 22.  30 mg. of the petal extract and 20 mg. of the fluoxetine were administered in tablet form twice daily. 

Again, the effects of the saffron were noted right away, within the first week.  Scores dropped down to 10 in both groups.  (anti-depressants usually take 6 weeks to take effect)

My Thoughts on Saffron Use for Depression/Anxiety

couple of people

 

Saffron appears to be better than a placebo and just as effective as fluoxetine but may act quicker and without any side effects.  Saffron petal may be just as effective as the stigmas

These studies are not large but are promising.   Saffron has been used and shown to be effective in those with moderate to severe depression and is fast acting.    Saffron is also good for those with anxiety, stress and OCD.  Often one or more of these other conditions coincide with depression.

 

Further research is needed with more test subjects than just 40 in a trial. However, effects were noted within the first week and improvements continued through the trials and without side effects. 

I would like to know where the saffron was sourced from, which product brand they used since it can be challenging to find a reputable brand.  I would also like to see more studies using the saffron petal as perhaps this can be just as effective as the stigma thus less costly. 

 

Where to get Saffron

For me personally, I am still trying to locate a reputable source for the pistils and petals to make a tincture but until then I have been using the Life Extension capsule saffron. 

  • Saffr’ Activ ® is an extract derived from the red stigma of the saffron. (www.saffractiv.com)  (cultivated in Iran, N. Africa and Greece) It comes in liquid and tablets.  It is NOT available in the US.  If you are outside the US and have used this brand or will try this brand, I would love to hear your results with the product. 
  • Other products are based on roughly 88.5 mg. tablets of saffron extract standardized to a minimum of .3% safranal (Vitacost, Biotrust, Swanson, Pure Formulas, Life Extension).  These products are touted on weight loss and decreased snacking. 
  • Consumerlabs.com is a good site to use to check if a product has the ingredients is says it has on the label. For herbs, many generic products seem to not have what it says on the label. When in doubt, purchase a quality brand and not a big box store brand when it comes to herbs. (to look up supplement ingredients on consumer labs there is a yearly small fee)
  • Know what parts of the herb are used: Saffron pistils and petals have shown to help depression in studies.  When I researched products, some say they contain leaf and stem.  This would be a waste of your money 

Should you Try it?

First make sure you are using a product from a reputable source.  When in doubt, call and ask questions.  If they can’t or don’t respond to your questions, then it may be best to avoid that product.  Always speak with your health care person prior to herb use as herbs can interact with some medications. (Although in my research it appears that saffron is safe to use with medications) Since saffron may increase serotonin, discuss its usage first with your doctor if you are currently taking an SSRI.  (I could not find any warnings in regards to this, but best to play it safe).  Based on what some research states, you may want to limit your intake to a short time of 26 weeks or less. Because these products are at a higher dose than what depression studies have used, you may want to try this instead-the Life Extension product is in a capsule.  Open it up and take only one half in the morning and the other half at night, or start with even a lower milligram amount and take only 1/2 a capsule per day. 

Beware of Imitation Saffron Products

saffron-pic-3

While you may be purchasing your saffron in capsule form, here are some things you can look for if using whole pistils.

o   There are several ways to tell if you have the real thing versus a fake product

  • the pistil should have a trumpet shape at the end
  • if the pistil is perfectly straight then it is a fake
  • Smell it-it should have a woody aroma. A fake often has sandal wood added to it.
  • Add it to water-the saffron will turn the water a golden sunny yellow color. The fake will turn it a more reddish color. The coloring is a gradual process for the real saffron and the coloring effect is immediate in the fake product. 
  • The fake threads will dissolve as you rub it between your fingers, the real saffron will not.
  • The Kashmir saffron is the best quality. The Iranian saffron is shorter, a bit more brittle but still good to use. 
  • Fake saffron is often made with corn silk links and then dyed.
  • Some powdered products are saffron mixed with more affordable herbs such as marigold and safflower.

When to Use Caution

  • long term use may cause kidney damage and central nervous system damage (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine and Hosseinzadeh, et. al.,)
  • large doses may cause coughs or headache (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine)
  • Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine)
  • Some do say that more than the 30 mg. per day and for long periods could be toxic and that 1200 mg. or more per day may cause nausea and vomiting. (long periods were defined as anywhere from 26 weeks to 6 months weeks)  (examine.com; naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com-this is a paid site)
  • Others say that 1.5 grams per day and up to 5 grams per day is safe (livestrong.com)
  • The only side effect that was noted in the Saffron studies was less snacking! This could be due to the elevated serotonin action in the body.

Overall it appears that saffron is safe to take for 8 to 26 weeks but after that it may do more harm than good.  Just because it is an herb, not a medication, does not mean it is safe.   Always use caution and seek the help of a professional when using herbs. 

My Experience with Saffron

Before having my clients try a product I am not familiar with, I often like to use myself (or family) as guinea pigs.  I purchased one bottle of the Life Extension product.  I took one capsule two times per day until the bottle was finished.  I missed several days of the second dose and two days did not take any over the course of supplementation. 

I did notice an overall improved mood and a sense of calmness.  Please note that I do not have moderate or severe depression but have had some stressful events recently that I can say have been impacting my mood.  The saffron was supportive.  I used to suffer from anxiety as a child and teen and what helped was changing my diet and balancing my blood sugar and hormones. However, I must admit I am still not the most mellow person in the world!  What was interesting recently is that when my husband and I were talking about an upsetting event he said “I am sick to my stomach over this.  Doesn’t it bother you?  How can you be so calm?”  My husband is usually not one for feeling overly anxious.  Maybe I need to give him some saffron!

In addition to that, saffron is touted as a product to curb cravings.  I did notice less of an appetite and did snack less mid-day and in the evening. 

I contacted Life Extension to ask about their product.  While their product bottle does say for positive mood enhancement, it also says it supports healthy eating habits.  The company responded to my questions right away.  The reason for the higher milligram dose is because they are basing it off a study using saffron to curb snacking, not studies looking at its use for depression which used a different dose.  You can find the abstract to that study here. Their product uses Satiereal® which is derived from the stigmas of the saffron flower.  Satiereal is a registered trademark product of INOREAL. Life Extension also provided to me a great deal of information of their standards in regards to quality and testing of their products.  So, I trust their product and their other products as well.  My next step is to contact INOREAL! 

I still have questions about the high dose of the Life Extension product and the possible contraindications if used for long periods of time.  I believe this product can be helpful to use for short periods of time while you are focusing on other aspects to address your anxiety and depression. 

Lastly, if you are anxious or depressed and have a reduced appetite, a product with a milligram dose higher than 15-30 mg. may not be for you.  You don’t need to take a saffron product that will reduce your appetite even more.  However, could the product reduce your anxiety and depression to the point that you would regain your appetite?  If you try products with the higher milligram dose I would love to hear your results!

In the end, I feel that if you are struggling with a mental health issue, it is best to seek the support of a professional who can assist you to see if saffron (and if so, which saffron product) is right for you. 

Bottom line

Keep in mind, an herb is not a magic pill.  Herbs rather support the body and allow your body to do what it needs to do.  My philosophy is to combine herbs with a diet that is right for your body. If you continue to consume a diet filled with refined, sugary, starchy, nutrient deficient foods, then you need to work on that. All the herbs (or supplements for that matter) in the world will not help you if you continue to put the wrong foods for you into your body. 

 

 

Sources:

Akhondzadeh, S. et. al., Comparison of Crocus sativas L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a

   double-blind, randomized and placebo controlled trial.  Phytotherapy research, 19(2005)148-151

Akhondzadeh, S. et. al. Comparison of Crocus sativas L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate

   depression: a pilot double-blind randomized pilot trial, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4 (2004)

   12-16.

Balch, P. Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition NY: Avery

Basti, A.A. et. al. Comparison of petal of Crocus Sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed out-

   patients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry,

   31 (2007) 439-42.

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2013) Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove CA: Bauman College

Boon, H. & Smith, M. (2009) 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs. Second edition. Canada: Robert Rose Inc.

Gladstar, R. (2012) Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs.  A beginners Guide.  MA: Storey

   Publishing. 

Gleen, L. (2/28/06) Saffron: Crocus sativas. cms.herbalgram.org

Gregor, M. (10/19/12) Saffron vs. Prozac. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/saffron-vs-prozac/

Gregor, M. (10/18/12) Wake up and smell the Saffron. 

   http://nutritionfacts.org/video/wake-up-and-smell-the-saffron/

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.  VT:

   Healing Arts Press. 

Hosseinzadeh, et. al. Acute and Sub acute Toxicity of Safranal, a Constituent of Saffron in mice and rats.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813202/

Mars, B.(2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Moshiri, E. et. al. Crocus sativas L. (petal) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind,

   randomized and placebo controlled trial.  Phytomedicine, 13 (2006) 607-11. 

Noorbala, A.A. et. al. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativas L versus fluoexetine in the treatment of mild to

   moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 97 (2005) 281-84.

Phillips, B. (2006) The Book of Herbs. Utah: Hobble Creek Press

Schar, J. (2/12)A taste of good cheer: Saffron for treatment of Cancer related depression. www.naturopath.com/

   saffron.html

Uddin, R. (9/23/15) Saffron Poisoning. http://www.livestrong.com/article/255826-the-benefits-of-saffron-root

___(nd) Saffron.  https://examine.com/supplements/saffron/ 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Herbalist

Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®

Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC

www.trufoodsnutrition.com

303-522-0381

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Detox Salad

Detox Salad

detox-salad-pic

 

While I am not a huge fan of detox diets, this is a salad that can be added into your meals and contains vegetables and herbs that aid in detoxing the body.  This salad can be used as a side dish and or you can add some protein to it, maybe some avocado slices, etc. and take it to work for lunch the next day. 

Ingredients

  • 1 small head broccoli
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • ½ a bunch parsley
  • ½ a bunch cilantro
  • 1/8 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • Ratio: 3 T. EVOO and 1 T. lemon juice
  • s/p to taste

Directions

  1. Place the broccoli florets into food processor and process into small pieces. Remove and place in large bowl
  2. Next add in the cauliflower and process until very small pieces and then add to bowl with broccoli.
  3. Next add in the carrots the food processor and then add to the bowl with broccoli and cauliflower
  4. Chop up the parsley and cilantro and add to the bowl. Add in the yeast
  5. In a separate bowl, blend the EVOO and lemon juice. Add s/p to taste. Pour over broccoli blend and mix in.  Depending on how much broccoli blend you have and your taste preference, you may need to increase the amount of the dressing. 
  6. Note: you can adjust this recipe to your taste. Next time try basil and garlic or sliced almonds. 

Cilantro: this herb is great for cleansing.  It contains compounds called flavonoids. These antioxidants bind to heavy metals and aid their removal from the body via urine. These compounds can also help fight inflammation caused by toxic overload.

Cauliflower and broccoli: these foods contain organosulfur compounds, essentially a fancy way of saying they contain sulfur.  Sulfur rich foods can reduce inflammation, and bind to and aid in the excretion of heavy metals. They also can protect the liver from toxins.  I bet you can’t say that about your fast food burger!

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit   www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page