Medical Management

No for candy, yes for super food!

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Have you ever heard of a jujube?  I always thought jujubes were only candy.  Not so!

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Last week I tasted the most delicious jujube tea at our local farmers market and received a little health-history lesson about this very special super food.  Jujubes are a bit larger than a walnut, a beautiful brownish-reddish color and felt very light and soft in my hands.

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The jujube originated in China where they have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years and where there are over 400 cultivars. The plants traveled beyond Asia centuries ago and today are grown to some extent in Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and the southwestern United States.  Some jujube trees grow up to 40 feet tall in Florida, but are smaller in size in California.

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The benefits of jujube the super food

Jujube contains high levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat, carotene, vitamin C, B, P, and minerals like calcium, iron and phosphorus. Below you will find some benefits of jujube.

    1. Decrease in seborrheic keratosis

Vitamin C present in jujubes is an antioxidant, that participates in the physiological oxygen reduction of the body and lowers the production of seborrheic keratosis by preventing the chronic melanin sedimentation in the body.

    1. Liver protection is another benefit of jujube

The fat, protein and sugar contained in jujubes protect the liver. These nutrients stimulate liver to synthesize protein, thus increasing the amount of albumin and red protein, controlling the ratio of globulin and albumin, preventing transfusions and reducing the level of serum alanine aminotransferase.

    1. Many will be glad to know that hair loss prevention is among the benefits of jujube

Jujube has the function of nourishing spleen and stomach. There is an old saying in China goes like this “Good spleen, good skin”. With radiant skin, the hair can have a sound shelter. So eat more jujubes can prevent hair loss and help you to grow glossy hair.

    1. Nourish stomach and brain

In fact, jujube is used in Chinese medicine to nourishing spleen and stomach. In case of irritating substances in prescription medications, jujubes are equipped to protect the spleen and stomach. Jujube is rich in protein, carbohydrate, organic acids and fat, which produces the tonic effect for the brain. Jujube cake with flour and jujubes is very delicious and moreover it can improve the functioning of the brain and stomach.

    1. Nourish the blood and provides vital energy

As a matter of fact, rich amount of vitamins in jujube is one of the most important benefits of jujube which is advantageous for capillary. Take 20 jujubes, brown sugar (30 grams) and 1 egg; make it with water stew. You should take this mix every day. It is beneficial for women’s recuperation after childbirth.

  1. Sleep promotion

As it has already been said, jujube nourishes the blood and spleen, but it also has a soothing effect. Take 1000 grams of jujubes, wash them, eliminate the nuclear, then smash and add water to boil on slow fire. After that, filter the juice and mix honey (500 grams). Mix into the paste with heating, reserve in bottles. Take 15 ml for two times a day. The mix continuously served will prevent and cure insomnia.

Additionally, jujube is important in calcium supplement, anti-diarrhea and emission control prevention. But, jujube is not appropriate for people with constipation for the rich content of carbohydrate.

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The jujube tea I sampled was delicious.  It reminded me almost of a cinnamon-raisin type of tea, but satisfyingly rich.

I am sharing this very special recipe with you below.  The making of this tea certainly is a process, but well worth the time involved.

Ginger jujube tea is normally served hot with pine nuts. Ginger has a soothing effect on stomach and sore muscles and jujubes alleviate stress.

This Korean tea is dark in color and has strong flavors of spicy ginger and sweet dried jujubes because it was cooked in simmering water for a long time. A fast way to make ginger tea is to use a pressure cooker.

When it is cold outside, this spicy hot drink will warm your body and even heart.

Korean Ginger Jujube Cinnamon Tea

Yields: about 16 cups
Total time: 50 min

Ingredients

    • 40 dried jujubes, Korean dates
    • 2 oz ginger (55g)
    • 3 oz packed brown sugar (85g)
    • 0.5 oz cinnamon sticks (14g)
    • 3 liters drinking water

Korean ginger jujube tea 생강 대추차

Instructions

Preparation Wash ginger and dried jujubes. Peel off ginger and cut into thin slices.

Brew Put ginger slices, dried jujubes, cinnamon sticks, and 3 liters of water in the pressure cooker. Cover and cook under pressure for 10 minutes over medium high heat. Then reduce the heat to very low and cook for another 10 minutes. Release pressure and add in brown sugar and without cover, simmer for another 5 minutes, or until sufficiently infused.

Serve Drain and serve with a few pine nuts in the tea and honey or brown sugar on the side.

Korean ginger jujube tea 생강 대추차

Serve with pine nuts.

Korean ginger jujube tea 생강 대추차

If you do not own a pressure cooker, this process can be accomplished (as per our local farmers market vendor) by slow-simmering for several hours.  Honey and brown sugar truly is optional, as the jujubes have their own sweet, unique flavor.

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What a neat little super food, don’t you think?

Happy Monday,

Wendy

Eating for our brains

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Food doesn’t just feed our bodies, it also nourishes our minds. If you are living with mental illness, eating well is especially important for you, because what you eat can affect your daily life, mood and energy level.

A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products and should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

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Healthy eating helps me to have more energy throughout the day and makes me feel better about myself in general. When I overindulge or eat junk food, it literally weighs me down and makes me want to go to sleep.  I love food, so I adapt healthier versions of my favorite meals and, of course, I treat myself once in a while.  I also eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep from overeating.  At first, it’s difficult to go from 3 huge meals to 6 tiny ones, but now I love it.  I can sample a variety of different foods and I’m never hungry because I know my next meal is right around the corner.

~Kerry M.
Living with Mental Illness

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Warnings about sugar

According to research, diets containing high amounts of refined sugar are associated with worsening symptoms of schizophrenia and a higher rate of depression. Current research recommends that you limit your sugar consumption to around 10 percent of total energy (or calorie) intake. Other dietary options such as fish, seafood and starchy roots provide a healthier energy-gaining alternative and are associated with reducing the prevalence of depression.

Keep a food journal

Are you even eating?  The answer 95 percent of the time is no, some people suffering with mental illness were actually fooling themselves.  It’s only when individuals are asked to write down everything they eat and drink that the true story is told.  Make sure to record the time of day and emotions surrounding your food choices.  Anorexia is also a form of mental illness and some patients claim that they have “hardly eaten anything at all” (Kirkpatrick, 2010).

Healthy brain foods

Diet is inextricably linked to conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, what we consume also seems to have significant implications for the brain: Unhealthy diets may increase risk for psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and dementia, whereas healthy diets may be protective.

Make for Malta in Depression, Stroke, and Dementia

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A 2009 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns -that is, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fat (common in olive and other plant oils) – are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than those who typically consume meatier, dairy-heavy fare.  The olive oil-inclined also show a lower risk for ischemic stroke and are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease, particularly when they engage in higher levels of physical activity.

Fat: The Good and the Bad

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A study conducted in Spain reported that consumption of both polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables) and monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts) decreases the risk for depression over time. However, there were clear dose-response relationships between dietary intake of trans fats and depression risk, whereas other data support an association between trans fats and ischemic stroke risk. Trans fats are found extensively in processed foods, including many commercial chocolates. A deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.

Fish Oil to Fend Off Psychosis?

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Thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help fend off numerous diseases of the brain. A 2010 study correlated fish consumption with a lower risk for psychotic symptoms, and concurrent work suggested that fish oil may help prevent psychosis in high-risk individuals. Although data are conflicting, new research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are beneficial in depression and postpartum depression, respectively, and other research suggests that omega-3 deficiency may be a risk factor for suicide. Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, have the highest omega-3 levels.

Berries for Oxidative Stress

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Polyphenols, namely anthocyanins, found in berries and other darkly pigmented fruits and vegetables may slow cognitive decline through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A study in rats from 2010 showed that a diet high in strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract leads to a “reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior involving learning and memory.” In vitro work by the same group found that strawberry, blueberry, and acai berry extracts – albeit in very high concentrations -can induce autophagy, a means by which cells clear debris, such as proteins linked to mental decline and memory loss. Berry anthocyanins may also reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing oxidative stress and attenuating inflammatory gene expression.

Alcohol: Always in Moderation

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The Greeks touted “nothing in excess,” a refrain that still rings true: Low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous potential physiologic benefits, including improved cholesterol profiles, beneficial effects on platelet and clotting function, and improved insulin sensitivity.  According to a recent meta-analysis, limited alcohol use is associated with a lower risk for overall and Alzheimer dementia, a finding supported by a 2011 study of German primary care patients.  Moderate alcohol intake may also protect against cerebrovascular disease, with wine potentially having added benefit because of its polyphenolic antioxidant components (ie, resveratrol). However, the health costs of alcohol consumption beyond low to moderate intake can quickly outweigh benefits to the brain, as heavy and long-term alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and dependence, impair memory function, contribute to neurodegenerative disease, and hinder psychosocial functioning.

*The US Food and Drug Administration defines “moderate alcohol consumption” as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits.

Rewed Awakening: Coffee for Depression and Stroke

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The world’s most widely used stimulant might do more than just wake us up: A 2011 meta-analysis found that consumption of 1-6 cups of coffee a day cut stroke risk by 17%.  Although it may increase blood pressure, coffee beans contain antioxidant compounds that may reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and coffee consumption has also been associated with increased insulin sensitivity and reduced concentrations of inflammatory markers.  Another 2011 study reported that women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day have a 15% decreased risk for depression, compared with those who drink less than 1 cup per week. A 20% decreased risk was seen in those who drank 4 cups or more. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity, whereas the mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both factors that are thought to play a role in depressive illnesses.

Chocolate — and Still More Antioxidants

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Chocolate — the darker the better — seems to help scavenge free radicals and improve endothelial and platelet function, likely via flavanols (such as catechin), a group of plant-derived polyphenols. A 2010 cohort study published in European Heart Journal found that consumption of 6 g of chocolate daily – a standard Hershey bar weighs 43 g – was associated with a 39% lower combined risk for myocardial infarction and stroke in adults, whereas data collected from the Swedish Mammography Cohort demonstrated a 20% decreased risk for stroke in women who regularly consume chocolate. Although chocolate has been associated with a positive influence on mood, possibly mediated by the dopamine and opioid systems, an extensive review by Parker and colleagues suggests that the benefits are not sustained, with emotional “comfort” eating actually contributing to depressed mood.

What Not to Eat?

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Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates have highly detrimental effects on the immune system, oxidative stress, and neurotrophins, all factors that are known to play a role in depression. The study by Akbaraly and colleagues cited previously showed that a diet rich in high-fat dairy foods and fried, refined, and sugary foods significantly increases risk for depression. Similar findings were seen in another study from Spain, showing that intake of such foods as pizza and hamburgers increased the risk for depression over time, and in another study, women with a diet higher in processed foods were more likely to have clinical major depression or dysthymia.  Research published last year also showed for the first time that quality of adolescents’ diets was linked to mental health: healthier diets were associated with reduced mental health symptoms and unhealthy diets with increased mental health symptoms over time. Excess salt intake has been long known to increase blood pressure and stroke risk; however, recent data also correlate high salt intake, as well as diets high in trans or saturated fats, with impaired cognition.

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Much time and research went into presenting this blog concerning eating for our mental health and wellness.  The references found were numerous; please feel free to share this information and check the validity of diet truths I have chosen to share with you.

Lastly, I wish to share a very special blog written by my brother, who has drastically changed his life and mental wellness by changing his diet.  He’s a great guy who I love with all my heart.  There is truth to this “eating for our brains” and such hope.   Please go check out his article here: http://journeytohealth.posterous.com/physical-health-nutrition-and-mental-health-a.  You can also find him on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/letsjourneytohealth?fref=pb.

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Wishing you a blessed day,

Wendy

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References

 

Kirkpatrick, K. (2010)  Food Diary.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/how-writing-everything-do_b_780535.html

Medical Brain Disorders~The Benefits of Exercise

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One very important and often highly neglected treatment of a variety of medical brain disorders is exercise.  Daily exercise.  I cannot stress how important this is, yet maintaining consistency with exercise when dealing with mental illness is extremely difficult.  Some days, many people cannot even get out of bed.  Other people are terrified of being in public places (which eliminates a gym or an outdoor walk).

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One way to get moving each day and to stay at it is to have an accountability buddy.  A family member, close friend or even a support group are some wonderful examples to get needed support for a daily exercise regime, especially if you are suffering from depression or anxiety disorders.  Try not to do this alone.  Make it fun and do not be afraid to ask for support.

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The importance of mood-tracking journals are tools in helping manage certain mood disorders, but so is keeping an exercise journal.  Note each day how you feel before and after exercise, your strength levels, energy improvements, how you sleep each night, and especially any changes to your moods and overall look upon life.   I believe you will find that keeping a journal will document amazing and positive results!
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Movement is so good for the body, spirit and mind. Activity and exercise are very important for people living with mental illness.  Most of all, try to find an exercise activity you really enjoy!  Individuals living with mental illness often have a higher risk for heart disease, and exercise can play a key part in a wellness plan. Activity and exercise are great ways to combat factors that are part of heart disease risk, stress, high blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes-all problems commonly found among people living with mental illness. Did you know that exercise plays a key part in elevating your mood and regulating sleep patterns?

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The benefits of exercise does make a difference with depression, including severe clinical depression.  Whether you take medication or choose to manage without, an active lifestyle is important for everyone. This is particularly true for those living with schizophrenia and who are on second-generation atypical antipsychotic medication (SGAs) because they are more vulnerable to obesity.

“Exercise is central to my mental health. As a person living with schizophrenia, stress exacerbates my illness, worsening my symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia. Exercise counteracts the stress, enabling me to see issues clearly, reality test, and judge things more accurately.

Fitness also takes me out of my isolated apartment and into the community. As I interact with people at the gym or along outdoor walks, my torturous inner-voices subside as my mind is distracted by the exercise and more at peace. I began exercising as a competitive runner long before I became ill – and two lessons I learned from those early days that have stayed with me throughout my decade-long struggle with schizophrenia are: “a winner never quits and a quitter never wins” and “there is no finish line.”  ~Lisa H.

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In addition to the countless physical benefits, exercise does have vast psychological benefits. Studies show that exercise can increase the amounts of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in your brain. The increased levels of neurotransmitters can help treat many disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, as well as help you to feel more energetic overall.

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Lastly, just having hope in something healthy, positive and inspirational, as well as setting new goals that will bring about feeling good about ourselves are lifelines to those dealing with medical brain disorders.  Today, would you step out in courage, take those baby steps to implement daily exercise into your life, and remember…you are not alone.  If you would like an accountability buddy, just say the word!  I am rooting for you!

Wendy