- Could this ingredient be a key piece the puzzle over our mental health problems?
- Fascinating new studies into the link between your ageing brain and your gut
- How to eat yourself happy
Why is there such a growing mental health problem in the western world?
Blunt question, I know.
But it’s a serious one.
And what you THINK is the answer is, isn’t necessarily the correct one.
As you’re about to see, when it comes to your mental wellbeing a large piece of the puzzle has been missing.
And when I say mental health, I’m referring not only to the more serious issues…
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anorexia, bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), autism…
I also mean smaller problems that many of us experience without even going for help or considering it a ‘problem’. These include mild anxiety, panic attacks, over-eating, stress.
For instance, do you ever feel like things are getting on top of you? Things that you might have been able to handle better when you were younger?
A lot of people say, “Well, it’s just life, it’s hard. ”
This is also given as one of the reasons behind the rise in mental health problems, great and small.
…The stress of modern life is to blame.
It’s partly true, too.
Our brains haven’t changed, physically, very much since we were hunter gatherers, living in small, close-knit communities.
However, we now live complex lives in brightly illuminated electric worlds full of cars, computers, TVs and smartphones…
We can fly from one end of the world to another… we no longer live, work and retire in the same town… our families are often separated by many miles…
We work long hours… endure massive amounts of debt and financial stress.
Never mind the impact of constant, rolling 24/7 news on our TVs and smartphone screens.
However, here’s a fascinating alternative reason for the problem.
Yes, it’s also related to modern living.
But it’s about what we EAT.
Or rather, what we DON’T eat any more.
Is this missing ingredient causing a health epidemic?
John Stein is an Oxford professor and adviser to the Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour.
He firmly believes that the rise in mental health problems is mainly down to a deterioration in the human diet.
In particular… we don’t eat the same amount of fish.
Not even close to the same amount, in his view.
And that’s important, because fish us a vital source of Omega 3 fatty acids, crucial for brain development.
It’s also high in vitamins A, D and K, as well as mineral like iron and zinc.
Stein makes this very good point…
“The poverty and deprivation of the 1920s must have been far more stressful for most people than now. And the human brain has evolved to cope with complexity, chiefly thanks to the nutrients provided by fish.”
This is precisely what I was writing about in my email the other week.
Many scientists believe that humans evolved largely down to our diet of shellfish in the time when primitive humans lived on the African coast.
(You can read all about it on this post: How to Stop Your Brain Ageing)
They say that if we can somehow replace those fish oils we have lost from our diet, we can help keep our brains younger and more active for longer.
There are other dietary changes that Stein blames for our mental health woes but in his opinion fish oils is the most dramatic and serious.
So the question is…
Can you eat yourself happy?
I found out about Professor Stein when I was reading an article by Rachel Kelly, author of The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food.
In her research she discovered that 90% of serotonin (the chemical responsible mood) is made in the digestive tracts.
So there’s a huge link between our gut health and brain health.
The headline of her article was: My Cure for Depression is Cheap and Tasty With Chips.
In other words, she ate herself out of depression by boosting her intake of mackerel, tuna and salmon (though I’d argue that you don’t normally eat those with chips!).
But for those who hate fish, or can’t eat it for ethical or allergy reasons, then you can also boost your intake of walnuts, flaxseed and green leafy vegetables.
Kelly reckons that by changing our diet we can improve the nation’s mental health.
For more information, I’d highly recommend you check out the website for the Institute for Food Brain and Behaviour here.
In particular here are two pages of interest…
Professor Carmine Pariante, lead author of a recent research trial at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, says: “Our study shows that even a short course of a nutritional supplement containing one type of omega-3 fatty acid (EPA) reduces the rates of new-onset depression to 10%, as opposed to the rate of 30% we usually see in this group.”
This page sites a recent German study of people aged 51-75, split between those taking a fish oil supplement and others taking a placebo. After 6 months there was a 26% improvement in cognitive function for those taking fish oil supplements, versus ZERO improvement for the group who did not.
So even if you’re purely worried about keeping your brain young and active, the evidence is piling up that omega 3 oils are key.
This is why we recommend this krill.
Krill oil has as 47 times more antioxidant strength than ordinary fish oil according to the U.S. Government approved rating scale.
Its most powerful antioxidant effects are produced by astaxanthin which you don’t get in regular fish oil. It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect and stimulate the brain for a better mood, better memory and clearer thinking.
I hope all of this helps. If you know anyone suffering mental health issues, however mild, pass this on!
Until next time!