Experiencing one of those summertime? Don’t worry! Rev up with these mood-enhancing foods that can clear your blues away and set you free! While there is no specific diet that can clear depression, eating the following foods can keep you in better mood and also add good health to your body.
Eat oatmeal for breakfast (in fact, for any meal of the day)
Oatmeal contains healthy carbohydrates that stimulate release of the ‘fell-good’ hormone serotonin. This hormone is a neurotransmitter that decreases appetite, puts off pain and induces sleep. Oatmeal contains abundant fiber that makes a person feel full for longer time periods, slows digestion and releases energy gradually enabling ‘mood boost’. Brown rice, whole grains, berries and fruits too give you similar results.
Garner Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin (as popularly called) has become difficult to procure as it is rarely present in foods naturally. Research proves that people with lower vitamin D levels have higher rates of depression. Sun is the best source of this nutrient as exposure to sunlight helps the body convert natural sun rays to vitamin D. But prolonged exposure is not recommended due to the increasing number of skin cancer cases. Try accumulating generous amounts of vitamin D through:
Here again, individuals with lower omega-3s are at an increased risk of depression. Keep emotional turmoil at bay by consuming omega-3-rich foods such as:
Fruits and vegetables are the anchors of good health and each of us should eat at least 5 portions of fruits and veggies daily. Know more on the benefits of eating rainbow-colored produce from the website www.firsteatright.com. Depressed people often lack folic acid in their body, a nutrient that is required to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin from tryptophan present in foods. Fill your plate with juicy carrots, ripe tomatoes, green broccolis, tiny snow peas, catchy oranges and mouth-watering berries.
Drink some hot green tea with honey 45 minutes before bedtime for a good night’s rest and reduced irritability
Nothing can beat the goodness of a good night’s rest which calms your body and rests your mind. Tea helps you calm down with its amino acid theanine some 20 minutes after consumption. Carbs in honey release serotonin and the sweet effect of honey makes you feel that you are not deprived of your foods and hence, keeps you in good mood. Honey also releases the hormone melatonin that plays a major role in recovery and rebuilding of body tissues during sleep.
People keep talking about obesity every single day, media reports epidemic rise in obesity rates and physicians warn patients against the side effects of obesity. It would be good if all of us talked about solving undernutrition just as much as we discuss about obesity. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) are always in discussion and their deficiency is prominently visible amongst people. But do you know that there are more than two billion people worldwide who do not get enough micronutrients like iron and vitamin A which can lead to long-term health consequences? We cannot totally play blame games regarding micronutrient deficiencies-there is progress made worldwide to reduce these, but further quick actions and steps must be taken to reduce and ultimately, eliminate undernourishment in sometime. Malnutrition is as evil as obesity and to know more about it, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Micronutrients are our vitamins and minerals that are critical for development, disease prevention and wellbeing. These are not produced by our body and must be supplemented from the foods we eat. More than 50% of the child population (between 6 months and 5 years) suffers from at least one of the micronutrient deficiencies. Most common micronutrient deficiencies found in children are iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine. We might say that developing countries are the ones extremely affect by micronutrient malnutrition, but sadly even the developed countries suffer from various forms of these nutritional problems.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder worldwide. Over 2 billion people (more than 30% of the world population) are anemic globally making it a public health concern of epidemic proportion. Almost 20% maternal deaths are due to anemia, leads to poor pregnancy outcome, stunted cognitive and physical development, increased morbidity risk in children and decreased work productivity in adults.
Globally, 1 in 3 pre-school aged children and 1 in 6 pregnant women are deficient in vitamin A which is extremely vital for healthy eyesight and immune system functioning. Supplementing small children aged between 6 months and 60 months is helpful in decreasing mortality rates across countries. Otherwise, these children are at a high risk of blindness and death from infections such as measles and diarrhea.
Zinc boosts immunity, resists infections, helps in healthy pregnancy outcomes and facilitates proper growth and development. Almost 17.3%-30% of the world’s population lacks adequate zinc levels due to insufficient dietary intake of this mineral. Newborn babies and small children are given zinc supplements to minimize incidence of premature birth, childhood diarrhea, respiratory infections and support improved growth and weight gain among infants and young children.
Iodine is imperative for brain development of the fetus absence of which leads to more than 18 million babies born with mental impairments and more than 2 billion people having insufficient iodine intake. Iron fortification in salt is an excellent nutritional introduction and almost 71% households have access to iodized salt. This enables increased IQ levels among children and also prevents iodine deficiency disorders such as goiters.
Impact of Micronutrient Malnutrition
Ultimate side effect is the loss of 100% use of human potential due to increased rates of illness and disability and decreased work capability. Learning ability sees a downslide and children are even subjected to stunted mental capability. All these can be countered by using four effective strategies:
“Bits of paper, Bits of paper lying on the ground, lying on the ground
Makes the place untidy, makes the place untidy
Pick them up, pick them up”
This rhyme might not go well with infants and toddlers today, at least not among those kids belonging to affluential families! A new study shows that children exposed to infections following germ-free childhoods are at a greater risk of childhood leukemia. A research scientist spent decades together trying to analyze the reason behind childhood leukemia and came up with a multi-step process:
ALL is the commonest form of childhood leukemia (blood cancer) affecting blood-producing cells in the bone marrow. These cells multiply rapidly and don’t mature fully resulting in ALL. It is diagnosed in children between 0 (meaning newborns) and 4 years but the number of cases occurring yearly are still rare. It is essential to diagnose and treat the disease immediately otherwise it can become fatal. The disease spreads rapidly in a few days or weeks’ time accumulating in the blood and flowing to other parts of the body such as the nervous system, lymph nodes and liver. Fortunately, 90% of those affected can be treated and cured with chemotherapy.
The researcher involved in the study came up with definite conclusions that ‘delayed infection’ was the primary cause ALL. Infections in the early stages of development aid the immune system in reducing the frequency of illnesses but absence of infections during these stages set the doors for leukemia wide open. If a child’s immune system is well-utilized during the first year of life in protecting against infections by exposing the child to normal environments, the child is protected and spared of problems such as ALL, allergies or other diseases as well as free of trauma and side effects. Our immune system is a vast ocean to be explored and one can find many interesting facts on this by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
A host of evidences that point to the conclusion of the study include:
The study’s main motive was not to blame parents for nurturing children in germ-resistant environments but to find the actual culprit behind ALL. As a society, we are moving towards development, modernization and evolving to be a sci-tech world. Maybe, ALL and other such illnesses are the price we pay for the progress made in the medical field as well as the path our society has chosen to pursue.
Each of us have a vague idea on how royals nurture kids or at least we imagine the different ways. Most of us would have immediately thought about kings, presidents and the most affluential class of people and their children who are nurtured in such specific kinds of environments that cater to their whims and fancies. If a royal kid wants to fish in a pond, an artificial pond is created; most rich people opt for home schooling and hence, once again the kid is isolated from other kids of their age. So, do many of these children develop ALL due to such restricted environments? This remains a question that needs to be answered!
Even common people have become finicky about their choices. They insist their children to mingle with only some groups of children, go for branded things and choose schools/daycares that are luxurious and over-hygienic. Money matters here and as most households have both parents working, individuals don’t mind shelling out as much money as they wish to. Such is the way in which our societies function and this is also a reason for innumerable diseases to show their presence.
Meanwhile, the study does not request parents to make their children roll in mud and play with worms! Allow kids to live normally. Expose them to the natural environment of mud, dirt, insects and friends. If a child falls down on the mud from a jula, help him/her wash herself and clean up. Don’t run and warn him/her to never play on the swing next time. Schools nowadays have an exclusive period allocated for sand play. This allows children to mingle freely, helps them feel the earthly presence and fall in love with nature. All these might seem trivial but who knows what might come of use at any point in life.
Playing in the dirt or exposure to daycare might not prevent a child from acquiring ALL. Even if the study shows so, evidences are not totally conclusive and further analysis is definitely required. It might be a genetic mutation in the womb that none can be blamed of. But one thing parents must be assured is the fact that if your child had/has leukemia you are not to blame yourself in any way as there is nothing solid known until now that can prevent the occurrence of the illness.
Women are blessed to give birth to children and at the same time experience their share of mood swings, cramps and uneasy times during menstrual cycle every month. What if I told you some women get to experience these twice a month?
The Normal Cycle
Any girl child is ready for menstruation from the age of 10 but the average age of onset is around 12 years. The duration of the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman, but the average is to have periods every 28 days. It is also common for any woman to experience cycles that last anywhere from 20 to 40 days. The menstrual cycle dances to the tune of the hormones. When hormone production is normal and adequate, menstrual cycles cause no problem and occur regularly. Any imbalance in these hormones is the root cause of most menstrual cycle-related problems such as missed periods, two periods in a month, heavy bleeding and so on.
During each menstrual cycle, rising estrogen levels cause the ovary to release an egg. The womb lining also starts to thicken. During the second half of the cycle, progesterone hormone helps the womb prepare for implantation of a developing embryo. The released egg travels down the fallopian tubes (2 tubes that connect the ovaries to the womb) and when there is no chance of pregnancy, the egg gets pulled back into the body. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, the womb lining comes away and is expelled out of the body as a period. Any period can last between 2 and 7 days during which women lose around 3-5 tablespoon of blood. The length of the cycle varies depending on many other factors such as stress, emotional imbalance, fluctuating weights, extreme physical activity and travelling.
Menstrual cycles last anywhere between 3 and 7 days. Women who get a shorter cycle can get their period at the beginning or end of month and this is normal. But, if the same woman bleeds outside her normal menstrual cycle or suspects the occurrence of a second period, it is wise to first figure out if it is spotting or menstrual bleeding. Once sure about this, it is better to meet your doctor and figure out what is causing this kind of bleeding/spotting between periods.
Several underlying reasons exist for periods that occur twice in a month:
Out of the blue: Rarely, the person might experience short menstrual cycles that occur twice a month. But once done, the periods might return to normalcy and cycles become regular. Due to reasons such as these, the physician investigates the bleeding pattern frequency before suggesting any treatment or making a diagnosis.
Age: Menstrual cycles mostly take time to become regular. Some girls get their first menstrual cycle after which they don’t menstruate for a couple of months. Sometime later, the bleeding again starts to occur. Puberty too can cause shorter or longer menstrual cycles which can lead to two cycles in a month. Research even suggests that it can almost take 6 years from the onset of the first period for the menstrual cycles to become regular.
Perimenopause: This stage starts several years before menopause when ovaries begin to make less and less of estrogen and lasts up to menopause. It usually lasts for some 10 years during which individuals experience skipped cycles, irregular menstrual cycles, shorter or longer cycles or experience light or heavy bleeding. Any person who misses her periods for twelve consecutive months is said to have entered menopause.
Endometriosis: This is a condition where a tissue similar to the uterine tissue grows in any other part of the body. Symptoms include irregular bleeding, abdominal pain and abnormal cramping. The bleeding is so heavy that some people mistake it for another period cycle. Although a pelvic exam or ultrasound can help in diagnosis, a laparoscopy is the definite way to diagnose the condition.
Thyroid problems: Irregular menstrual cycles are one of the most common symptoms of a thyroid problem, underactive or overactive.
Uterine fibroids: These are mostly non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause bleeding, especially heavy bleeding. Other common symptoms include pain during sex, low back pain, urge to urinate frequently and pressure or a felling of fullness in the pelvis. This is hereditary, but the cause is unknown. A pelvic exam or ultrasound can help in diagnosis.
Stress, birth control pills, extreme weight loss/gain and illnesses are other common reasons for repeated menstrual cycles. Genetic history of cysts, fibroids or early menopause onset can also increase your risk of having two periods in a month.
Time to Visit Your Doc!
Any person who experiences two periods a month continuously for 2-3 months should meet a doctor. Other common factors that suggests that you visit your doctor include:
Treatment depends on the cause of the disease. Individuals who have just started menstruating or those who experience shorter cycles need not seek treatment. If you are worried about anemia, your physician might recommend iron supplements.
Hormonal birth control is a suggested treatment option for individuals who experience heavy bleeding. This helps to regulate periods as well as resolve anemia issues caused by heavy bleeding.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.