Diet tips to fix depression
The human brain was designed to eat meat. Sorry, I do not resile from this fundamental fact.
There are all sorts of anthropological studies that confirm this. If you believe in evolution and I am not saying that you have to, then apes split away from humans at some stage about 1 million years ago and the difference in the size of the human brain to the apes brain is due to the eating of animal flesh. Please don’t take my word for it. I would hate that. The human brain developed to be so large compared to our ancestors because of eating meat. You are not that different to your ape mates. He is just a vegetarian and you are an omnivore (you eat everything). Just go with the story. You don’t become an ape or have your brain shrink if you don’t eat meat. But it is much harder to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that you need if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.
Phew, lucky for you all you meat lovers, at least one of your favourite foods is in the menu. For vegetarians I will try to write a special section about what you can do to trick your body to get the right nutrients. Now what kind of meat? If its red meat it should be grass fed and not feedlot meat, or you can eat wild meat. Why? Its got to do with the fat profile of the meat. Why is the fat profile important? Because your body is made out of fats and especially your brain. I address this point in the Fats/oils section. Lets say that your brain fats are made up of 1/3 cholesterol, 1/3 saturated fat and 1/3 polyunsaturated fat (polyunsaturated is mostly omega 3 and omega 6 fats). This is not quite correct but close enough for us here. So fats in different meats.
Omega 3 fat
OMEGA 6 FAT
Grass fed beef
Grain fed beef
You can see that the grass fed meat has much less Omega 3 fats. It is because the Grain fed meat or feedlot meat are fed grains that contain omega 6 fats. The cow cannot change omega 6 to omega 3, so most of the omega 3 is replaced by Omega 6. Omega 3 is the kind of fat you see in all those expensive fish oil caps that people take. Well, if you ate grass fed beef maybe you wouldn’t have to bother with them? (More on this in the fats and oils sections)
There are a host of other benefits from eating grass fed Vs grain fed meats, such as more nutrients, leaner muscle meat because the cows get exercise, a more varied diet, more diverse gut bacteria in the cow gut, meaning a healthier animal. When you do a visual check, the fat from grass fed should be yellower, as is the milk and the cream, the yellower the better. I am told that you should cook your meat medium rare, but personally I hate that. I prefer well done, but I’m working on it.
Eat REAL CHICKEN
At the time of writing, I dont have a lot of information on chicken, but what I have read says virtually the same as for beef. I do recall the first time I cooked an organic chicken perhaps 15 years ago. The (truly) organic chicken easily fed about 5 people with some leftovers whereas the larger chicken (free range) that we normally ate would only feed four with no leftovers. One thing apart from the wonderful taste that we noticed was that the chicken had really small bones compared to our regular chicken. Why is this significant? Well, the bone size of our organic chicken took up less of the volume of the chicken, in other words there was more flesh on the organic chicken than our regular chicken. What I'm saying is that we got more meat and less bone and water and fat from the organic chicken, so although the organic chicken cost more, we got more food so in the end and it was probably cheaper. Be careful even with organic chicken that it may be getting fed organic grain and still be called organic. You want a truly organic chicken, one that has been allowed to roam around and get its food naturally (insects, worms, grass, seeds) Once you have experienced a truly organic chicken you will find it hard to go back.
Here's another story I've heard about chicken. A chicken raised today will be mature in about 35 days. This is as opposed to 65 days in 1975. This is due to "better" food and growing conditions and chicken breeds bred to grow faster. Basically, that faster growth amounts to faster fattening and uptake of water. What you don't get is a whole lot more meat, or nutrients or vitamins. The chicken is and was sold by weight. You are really paying for more water and more fat, not more chicken.
Have a think about this. Free range chicken compared to regular chicken. Whats the difference? The free range chicken is exactly the same EXCEPT, the free range chicken has a chicken sized hole cut in the side of the shed. If a chicken decides, it can hop out through the hole and spend an hour or three or five, out in the small space between the sheds. Its feed is the same, it still lives in a shed with lowish light that shines 23 hours per day. Look, I am no animal welfare guy. I am not a live chicken lover. I like my chicken roasted or fried. Maybe I should care about the chickens life but alas I dont. The point is, the free range chicken meat any better than the is regular chicken, probably not. The organic chicken is not that much better. What do you do? Get a real chicken, that is not grain fed, but fed with vegetables, worms and insects. Once you have had one you will never go back.
You may disagree with me, but go and get yourself a truly organic/not grain fed chicken and you will enjoy the difference. Will this help your mental health? I dont know but it wont hurt.
Fish is your best source of Omega 3 oils (see oils/fats section) so its good for your brain health. If you deep fry it in vegetable oil then you will most likely destroy much of its goodness, but its better than nothing. Steamed or grilled fish is best, the fresher the better and even raw is good or fermented but you dont find it much today. I always find if I eat wild fish like mackeral then I have vivid dreams. I dont know if thats good or not but I take it as a sign that something is happening in my brain. If you want to get your omega 3 oils up then eating fish is the best and probably cheapest way to do it. One serve of oily fish like salmon or swordfish contains about 2g of omega 3 oil and equivalent to about 2 or 3 high strength fish oil capsules. Plus, the fish is almost guaranteed to have quality fish oil but the bcapsule must be refined and encapsulated.
Salt formula NaCl = sodium Chloride.
Salt is good for you, I mean, don’t overdo it but get plenty.
Be careful with your type of salt. Iodised salt seems to be good, and not too much refinement. with no additives.
Salt your food to taste, but try and use the good stuff.
There are about 70,000 synthetic chemicals in use today. That is 70,000 chemicals that probably did not exist 100 years ago. Many of these chemicals are found in our foods and supplements. Some can be dangerous, some are not and many we just don’t know. Now, most of us use salt. It seems like almost everyone uses the Himalayan pink salt. If you remember the old white table salt, it is very high grade and has been basically stripped of all mineral content. But there is a tiny portion of a chemical added called anti caking agent for example (there are many) Calcium Ferrocyanide. The portion is tiny, like 20mg/kg. Toxicity (the amount that will kill you) is 5000mg/kg or ½ a kilogram for a large male so you would have to eat a truckload of salt for it to kill you. The salt would no doubt kill you first. This is not my point. My point is that this compound is added as an anti-caking agent – that’s what is does, stops the salt crystals sticking together. Once it enters your body, does it stop doing that job? Well, I guess we don’t really know. Is there something in your body that wants to clump together like certain molecules that are beneficial? Again we just don’t know. Its even possible that it does something beneficial for us, but we don’t know. One thing is for certain that if your body has evolved over thousands of years without this chemical, then it is not really designed to deal with it. At best it just says, nope not having that, let it go through. What I’m saying is why consume it if you don’t have to?
So the point is try to get foods that are natural or the least processed.
Just a quick word on salt. I don’t have much information about salt and depression but there are studies that show that salt is the best thing around to lower Cortisol. Cortisol , we will discuss later is basically your stress hormone. It is almost impossible to meet the heart foundation recommended low salt guidelines. Salt is absolutely essential to life and your body contains about 110g of it. You use up salt daily as you sweat and you must replace it from external sources. Your body cannot make it. The current hysteria about salt is in my opinion quite wrong. Salt was much prized in the ancient world and was used as a kind of currency. Salzburg, a lovely town in Austria literally means Salt City and was like the Fort Knox of Rome. Don’t overdo it with salt, but its not the enemy. If you want to start feeling depressed, eat a bland diet with low salt and I’m pretty sure you will start feeling unhappy. Food is supposed to taste good, and we all know that good tasting food makes us happy. Salt away but don’t overdo it and go for quality.
Fats and Oils Summary
Your brain is mostly made out of fat (except the water part)
Minimise or delete vegetable oils (they are not made from vegetables)
Increase use of olive oil
Eat only grass fed meats
Eat fish as much as possible.
Saturated fat is good for you and your brain.
BUT WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH MY DEPRESSION?
Here's the real important fact to do with fats and depression. Your brain is about 50% fat (dry weight, eg after you remove the water). 25% of that fat is cholesterol or saturated fat. The fat that goes to making your brain grow and function properly is natural fat, as in anything that existed 100 years ago. But in particular Omega 3 fats (more about this in a minute). So hopefully everyone here believes in evolution, but even if you are a fundamental Christian and believe the world is only 5000 years old, the principles are the same. Your body is designed to use the fundamental things that it finds in nature. Your brain is 50% fat and that fat is basically anything that existed 100 years ago. Canola oil didn’t even exist 50 years ago. It is a totally new food. There were sunflowers 100 years ago but the best that you would do is eat a couple of seeds once a year. All of these modern oils did not exist 100 years ago. So your body is designed to use oils from fish, from beef, from lamb, from olives, from coconuts, from whales, from nuts, avocados. People didn’t have 1000 walnuts, 100 years ago and sit down for weeks so they could make an oil that they would cook the roast on and throw it away the next day. They had better things to do. So your brain is designed to use what was available. Fish and meat, coconut, olive oil. Now if you don’t supply enough of the building blocks for your brain, what happens? Well, your body and your brain are quite adaptable. Your brain basically says "I will have to do the best with what I have, I will use the next best thing". It will use the fats from canola oil, or soy bean oil or sunflower oil. The omega 6s. Its not happy about it but it does what it has to. If you want your brain health to be the best it can, then supply it with the building materials that it needs. Just a quick word on cholesterol, and again this is a subject that needs an hour of its own. Do you want a life of happiness and cognition, or a life where you are depressed all the time but your doc is happy because you cholesterol numbers confirm that you wont get heart disease. Me, I want to live a long healthy and cognisant life, not a miserable one just to please my doctor. Eat meat and fish and good oil, live long and prosper!
The super smart doc I was listening to the other day summed it up well. You want a brick house but the building co has supplied only timber. Do you want to build the house out of timber or wait a bit for the bricks that you ordered. Basically, your brain cannot wait for a new delivery it must get on with the job. Your brain uses the timber knowing that it will not produce the desired outcome but it just wants to get on with the job. Just in case you don’t care about the brain health side of things with polyunsaturated omega 6 oils how about this? Polyunsaturated Omega 6 oils may be the primary cause of cellulite. You know the crinkly fat globs under the surface of the skin. This is because the outer layers of those cells near the surface of the skin have a tough outer layer made from omega 3 fats. If the outer layer is made from omega 6 fats instead, the layer is less strong and makes the cell more gel like. In fact the outer layer does not form at all. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for the regeneration to happen if at all, later in life.
Super Basic chemistry
I am going out of my way not to bore you, but lets just have a look at some really basic food chemistry.
Water is H20, everyone seems to know this one.
Carbon Dioxide is CO2 (one carbon two oxygens)
NO2 is nitrogen dioxide.
NaCl is sodium chloride or salt. (common table salt)
Almost everything you put in your body is a combination of Carbon (C), Oxygen(O), Hydrogen(H) and Nitrogen(N). There is a good reason for this. Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen are about the most abundant molecules found on the surface of the planet, and we are made out of them. Then there are a few really trace elements like Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Selenium (Se), Sodium (Na), Chlorine(Cl) and the list goes on. The reason the letters don't always match up is because the words are from Latin or German eg. Sodium (english) in German is called Natrium (Na). You dont need to memeorise this, I just don't want to lose you as we progress.
Oils fats cooking oils
This a super important area for your mental health and your overall health. I am going to tell you far more than you ever wanted to know.
This is a great, helpful article if you want to read.
Well, for years we have been told to embrace healthy oils such as canola and sunflower oil and shun fats like lard Pork fat , tallow (beef fat and coconut oil and butter. Lets just take a look at their chemical structure for a start.
H = Hydrogen, O = Oxygen, C= Carbon.
The lines between the atoms are called BONDS or DOUBLE BONDS.
The single lines or Bonds are very stable. The double bonds are less stable (strong)
When you use the word saturated, as in SATURATED FAT or saturated clothes, you think of something completely dripping wet, or in this case dripping with fat. Not a healthy picture. A saturated raincoat means you could not add any more water to it if you tried. But in fact with SATURATED FAT, the saturation has nothing to do with the oiliness or drippingness at all. The saturation refers to the hydrogen carbon bonds in the structure. The oil is said to be saturated, meaning that all bonds are taken up and the oil is saturated with hydrogen atoms. In fact, this produces a very stable oil, or fat and is characterised by being solid at room temperature. It's like hard butter at room temperature. Oh, and you don’t have to worry about this stuff solidifying in your veins or in your body because if your temperature ever gets down to room temperature (25 degrees c) you are already dead. When I say stable, its chemically stable. Because the fat is saturated with Hydrogen atoms, it is happy to stay that way. Think of iron oxide compared to steel. Iron oxide or iron ore (the red powdered or rocky stuff) is very happy and stable being iron ore (FeO = iron oxide). It will sit there like that for millions of years quite happily not bothering anyone. When you refine iron ore it becomes steel amongst other things. Steel is relatively unstable. Steel if you leave it out in the air as we all know, rusts or oxidises. It is unstable and really happier to return to the stable state of iron oxide. That is rust. That’s what happens with unsaturated fats if you leave them out in the air, they oxidise because they are not chemically stable. Saturated fats can be left out in the air for ages because they are stable and happy to remain as they are.
Poly Un- saturated Fat/oil
Poly Un-saturated fat is said to be unstable at high temperatures or just left at room temperature for a long time. Unsaturated fats are almost always a liquid, think of canola or sunflower or soybean oil. They can be made to harden, as in margarine, but this is done Un-naturally by a process called hydrogenation and may have other added ingredients such as coagulants to set the oils. This “instability” means that dangerous trans fats can be formed at high temperatures, these are the worst kind of fats. They cannot be formed from saturated fat, only polyunsaturated fat. So that’s no 1. reason not to use them. Further un natural processes have been developed to reduce the trans fat formation, but its just more mucking about with nature. Now, just to get into the chemistry very briefly, the reason the poly unsaturated fats are unstable is because of that double bond between the carbon atoms. The more double bonds there are, the more unstable an oil is. That unstable bond would be much happier bonding with an oxygen atom. That is called a lower energy state. In other words, once the oil is oxidised it forms a much stronger bond with the oxygen. You have heard of an anti-oxidant and how good they are for you, well, oxidised fat is an anti-anti-oxidant or just an oxidised fat. It is fat that has rusted if you like. That's not good. I mean, we all need some polyunsaturated fat, but in our diets today, we have far too much. You will read below though that some polyunsaturated fats are quite important, like omega 3 and omega 6, but the ratio is very important.
I know I am going to be asked about olive oil and rice bran oil. Olive oil is one of the only liquid oils that is acceptable. It is mostly MONO-UNSATURATED oil meaning only 1 available bonding site, rather than poly unsaturated meaning many bonding sites. Just remember as well that olive oil is not a vegetable oil, it is a fruit oil like say avocado oil, or even palm (fruit) oil. So it is not as stable as saturated fat, but much more stable than poly unsaturated fat/oil.
There are many other benefits to olive oil due to antioxidants and anti inflammatories and I will have to let you do your own research. Olive oil is certainly good for most purposes but shouldn’t really be used at high temperature for cooking, like frying fish or chips for example. Rice bran oil is not the worst out there but is low in omega 3 and high in omega 6. Personally, I try to avoid it.
Making olive oil
Basically, you crush the olives and push the oil out. Usually there is a decanter, like you do with wine to separate oil and water, and a filter to filter out the solids. That’s pretty much it, although sometimes the olives are heated, unless it is “cold pressed” Compare that method to the extraction method for Canola oil below.
Canola oil is made at a processing facility by slightly heating and then crushing the seed. Almost all commercial canola oil is then extracted using hexane solvent which is recovered at the end of processing. ... Canola vegetable oils certified as organic are required to be from non-GMO rapeseed.
Back in the day, an oil called rapeseed oil was often used for industrial purposes.
It was cheap to produce, but people couldn't eat it because it contained some unfavorable substances:
- Erucic acid: a fatty acid that caused heart damage in some rat studies (1).
- Glucosinolates: bitter compounds that made the oil taste bad (2).
A bunch of Canadian scientists wanted to turn rapeseed oil into an edible oil, so they used selective breeding techniques to "create" seeds that contained less of these harmful, bitter substances.
This is how canola was born... but "Canola" is a marketing term. It stands for Canadian Oil (some believe it stands for Canada Oil, Low Acid).
Canola is actually not a unique plant. It's just a name for rapeseeds that have been bred to be low in these undesirable compounds.
Since the year 1995, biotech giant Monsanto has manufactured rapeseeds that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp.
Today, about 90% of the world's canola crop is genetically modified.
BOTTOM LINE: Canola oil is extracted from rapeseeds that have been bred to contain less of some unfavorable substances. Most of the world's canola crop is genetically modified.
Hexane is used to extract canola oil from the seed.
What is Hexane?
In industry, hexanes are used in the formulation of glues for shoes, leather products, and roofing. They are also used to extract cooking oils (such as canola oil or soy oil) from seeds, for cleansing and degreasing a variety of items, and in textile manufacturing. They are commonly used in food based soybean oil extraction in the United States, and are potentially present as contaminants in all soy food products in which the technique is used; the lack of regulation by the FDA of this contaminant is a matter of some controversy.
A typical laboratory use of hexanes is to extract oil and grease contaminants from water and soil for analysis. Since hexane cannot be easily deprotonated, it is used in the laboratory for reactions that involve very strong bases, such as the preparation of organolithiums. For example, butyllithiums are typically supplied as a hexane solution.
Hexanes are commonly used in chromatography as a non-polar solvent. Higher alkanes present as impurities in hexanes have similar retention times as the solvent, meaning that fractions containing hexane will also contain these impurities. In preparative chromatography, concentration of a large volume of hexanes can result in a sample that is appreciably contaminated by alkanes. This may result in a solid compound being obtained as an oil and the alkanes may interfere with analysis.
Production of Hexanes
Hexanes are chiefly obtained by refining crude oil. The exact composition of the fraction depends largely on the source of the oil (crude or reformed) and the constraints of the refining. The industrial product (usually around 50% by weight of the straight-chain isomer) is the fraction boiling at 65–70 °C (149–158 °F).
What I am asking here is, "do you want your oil to come from squeezing an olive, or from the industrial process described above?"
It is certainly possible to cold press canola or flaxseed or sunflower oil. But as I said earlier, the degradation or oxidation of the oil begins almost immediately. Even flaxseed/linseed which is a great source of Omega 3 oil is very unstable. You really need to get the flaxseeds and crush them and consume them straight away.
It might seem that I’m picking on Canola oil, but it is probably the least worst of the vegetable or seed oils, except that it is GM meaning that apart from being unnatural, it will be sprayed with roundup (herbicide) during its growing.
OMEGA 6 VS OMEGA 3s
Omega 6 vs Omega 3 ratio is the action. You know the fish oil frenzy everyone is on. Well, they have a point, but as you will see it just doesnt work that way. Yes, omega 3 is good for you, but if you dont reduce the omega 6 then it is almost useless. Years ago it was all omega 3, now its all omega 6/ Linoleic acid.
Just to give you a little more chemistry, Omega in the greek alphabet, is the last letter (same as Z). So Omega means that the double carbon bonds are at the end of the chain. If the oil was Alpha it would be at the beginning of the chain. The 3 means 3 double bonds and 6 means 6 double bonds. That means omega 3 is twice as stable as omega 6.
Omega 3 is said to be anti-inflammatory and Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory. Both anti inflammatory and Pro-inflammatory have a place, but you just need to balance them. Equal quantities of both if you can. Today, the diet is full of Omega 6 and low on omega 3.
So everyone rush out and get your omega 3s. Wait, not so fast.
The volume of Omega 6 matters and so does the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6. Both fats compete for enzymes to be digested.
Here are some estimates.
Omega 3 Omega 6 When
1 1 Caveman Days
1 4 Introduction of Grains
1 10 Industrial Revolution
1 25 Modern day
1 1-2 Ideal about 2 but 1 is better
Lets say an average person consumes about 100g per day of fat, of which about 25g is omega 6. This is very approximate. Currently, if the 25:1 figure is correct, you are consuming 1g of Omega 3 and 25g of Omega 6 ratio = 25
You add one of those omega 3 capsules, which weigh about 1g, and has about 50% omega 3 fats. The ratio is 25:1.5 or 16.6. So, to get the ratio down to say 2, while keeping everything the same, you would need 25 of those capsules and the ratio would be 2.0
Now you are balanced, but you need a whole bottle of omega 3 capsules every day! So you are adding at 10 calories per gram, 250 calories per day, which means increasing your calories from 2500 to 2750. A sure way to gain weight. The best way to get the ratio right is to lower the amount of Omega 6 in your diet. How do you do that?
1. Get rid of vegetable oils.
2. Eat only grass fed meat. Grass fed meat (where the fat is yellow) has possibly 50% higher Omega 3 content than grain fed. (Grains are full of omega 6)
3. Farmed or wild salmon and trout are good, but farmed salmon may contain colourants such as synthetic axstazanthin and if the fish are grain fed then omega 3 will be higher. Eat wild caught fish for preference. Not so easy, the cost of wild caught salmon in Australia is like 5x the cost of farmed salmon. Mackeral is a good source at 7g/100g. But you really need fish probably 3 x per week if this is your primary source of omega 3s.
4. Walnuts linseeds/flaxseeds chia seeds. I mean you need about 3tsp of flaxseeds to get your daily omega 3 of say 4g
So, if you lower your Omega 6 intake to 10g per day, to get a ratio of 2:1 then you only need 5g of omega 3 which is 10 capsules of fish oil or 3 tsp of flaxseeds or 1 piece of mackerel or 1pc of salmon (per day)
List of foods containing vegetable oil
Sorry guys this is a bad news story. You cannot rule out vegetable oils completely unless you are a hermit or a monk. As I have said earlier, do the best you can such as home cooked food. Why do they contain vegetable oil? Cost. Its nothing to do with your nutrition.
List of foods containing vegetable oil
Mayonaise I have only been able to find one commercially available oil that does not contain VO. It has avocado oil
Canned Tuna in oil I have found one or two brands in Australia packed in olive oil. Careful, when it says Olive Oil Blend
Frozen hash Browns
Potato chips/crisps exception boulder mountain foods chips.
Many pasta sauces.
Most breakfast cereals
All deep fried foods
Liquid breakfast cereals.
Some oil packed vitamins.
Vegetables packed in oil.
Tinned sardines not all of them but most.
Restaurant food and take-out food cooking oils
Not another great story here. Almost all fried food in restaurants and take aways will use polyunsaturated vegetable oils. It's also in the dressings and sauces. Just ask for olive oil if you can, but even then make sure its pure olive oil not a blend. To be fair, you will find it almost impossible to avoid vegetable oils in food that is prepared for you. Just do the best that you can.
eat raw food
Cooking makes most food taste good and more available to your body. But not always.
A raw carrot is much less available in terms of calories and digestability than a cooked carrot. Cooking can often destroy the vitamins and minerals that we are looking for.
A raw potato is much better for your bowel flora (Bacteria) than a cooked potato. The cooking basically turns the prebiotic fibre into sugars.
If you have read the resistant starch section you will know that you can reverse this process by cooking then cooling the potato.
Sorry this is a tough topic. I don't do it but there are good reasons behind it.
Guts are a vitamin and mineral powerhouse but they also contain lots of amino acids (proteins) that are not found in muscle meats that most people prefer. Muscle meats are fillet steak, rump, porterhouse, T Bone, leg, shoulder etc. I am not well experienced on this topic, but I know that it has lots of science behind it. Liver for example is a powerhouse of vitamins minerals and amino acids. I cant even stand the smell of kidneys cooking. I have tried brains and if you ask me, they are about the easiest and best of the guts to try. Just a thought, chicken liver pate' and liverwurst are great. My kids love this stuff. This is guts for beginners.
I won't bullshit you, I hardly eat guts. But you should. I'm working on it. I am not a supplement guy, but if the only way you can stand liver is to take it in a supplement, you ought to try that. I have never had tripe (cow's stomach) but I hear its a probiotic powerhouse. Not the white bleached stuff you find in the butcher store, its called green tripe. Apparently your dog will go mad for the stuff. They smell it a mile away and apparently the smell is something else. I now give my dog green tripe but it has been turned into a supplement, dried and smell removed.
If you take the commonly available Thyroid medication it is made from Pigs Thyroid. In some cultures that ate guts, the thyroid gland of the animal would be reserved for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant. These cultures knew how important the thyroid gland was to pregnancy. We don't eat thyroid glands anymore and we don't get that goodness, whatever it is. Its probably the iodine. So you can take your medicine or you can eat it. Having said that I have never tried thyroid gland and nor am I likely too. Hey, I don't have depression anymore but I'm not that crazy.
Real milk is really hard to get today. The best is milk from the Jersey cow, straight from the udder.
Once you pasteurise milk, you change it and make it less digestible. This is most likely the reason there is so much dairy or milk allergy around today. It's the pasteurisation process. Unfortunately for us with modern processing and transportation and the size of the herds, its dangerous not to pasteurise milk and in Australia and the US and UK, all commercially sold milk for humans must be pasteurised by law. It's certainly possible to buy un pasteurised milk but it's marked as milk for bathing in, or for pets only. I have met a few people that drink it, and they all seem healthy.
There’s arguably no other food that’s mucked around with more than milk. The only milk that is any good for you is milk that comes from a grass-fed jersey cow and drunk within a few hours. Everything else is a pseudo food. Just have a listen to a few of the processes involved in making modern milk and decide for yourself.
First of all, the cows are no longer jersey cows. They are mostly Holsteins or Friesian Holstein cross. This is because the cross breed has the highest milk output compared to milkfat ratio. This is because milk is traditionally sold on fat content compared to volume. The calculation by the farmers that Friesian Holstein is the best is based purely on profitability, not taste - not nutritional value, but money. The Jersey cows produce a protein known as A2. The Holstein cows the protein is mostly A1.
Depending on what you believe the A1 protein is difficult to digest and inflammatory, whereas the A2 protein has much more nutritional value. There is in fact, a company in New Zealand that produces A2 only milk, which comes from Jersey cows. If I can’t buy Jersey milk I will opt for the A2 milk. Have a look next time you are in a good store. You will see that Jersey milk has a much yellower creamier look. The yellow is omega 3 fats (the good kind) and a higher fat content-the good kind of fat. If the cows are grain fed the yellow colour will disappear because the grains contain mostly omega 6 fats and the animal cannot convert them to omega 6. Omega 3 is the kind of fat found in seafood and is anti-inflammatory and the reason why everyone is taking fish oil or krill oil these days. If you are in the USA you may have at least one additional hurdle. In the last 25 years Monsanto has introduced r-BGH. R-BGH is recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. This is a growth hormone that is injected into the cows, weekly I think, and it increases the milk production rate. Now, I’m not going to say much about r-BGH because Monsanto goes around suing everybody that does. Put it this way Americans, you won’t know if r-BGH is in your milk/your cow because it is not a requirement to put it on the label. Additionally, if as a farmer you don’t use r-BGH, you can’t say that you don’t use it or Monsanto will sue you. I would, however, be pretty confident that organic milk or pasture-fed Jersey milk would not contain r-BGH. Fortunately for much of the rest of the world we don’t have to worry about it. R-BGH is banned in Europe, Australia, Canada. I'll tell you another thing about r-BGH. At the end of a cows milking life on r-BGH the cow is completely useless. I'd have to check but I think they just shoot them. They can't even give them away to the pet food manufacturers.
OK, so you reckon you have grass-fed jersey A2 milk with no r-BGH? Now let’s get started on the processing. Well, the only processing you are going to have with the good milk is pasteurisation. All commercially sold milk for drinking in Australia must be pasteurised by law. This is probably a good idea because the milk comes from large and varied sources and is transported long distances, and then it must be preserved for a week or so. Fresh milk would only last unpasteurised for a few days and there definitely can be unpleasant bacteria in the milk. Pasteurisation is just heating the milk to 60 degrees for 15 seconds. The problem is you kill all the good bacteria and, change the nature of some proteins and enzymes. This makes the milk less nutritious and harder to digest.
If you are not drinking organic milk you may get added vitamin D. Unfortunately it is often D2 not D3. D2 is really inactive and of little use to you. Lots of milk is also fortified with Vitamin A, but it’s not true vitamin A (retinol), but retinyl palmitate, synthetically made in a laboratory.
The fat in milk (3-4%) is also where most of the nutrient is stored, like vitamins K,E,D,A. When you lower the fat or produce skim milk, you also reduce all of the vitamins available.
Many people then buy homogenised milk where the fat particles are sheared at high speeds or under pressure. There are two opposing theories as to whether this is good for you or not. Personally, I stick with the theory that the less interference the better, but I admit when I was a kid I preferred homogenised milk. I never buy it now.
Skim and low fat milk
These two products are made similarly. All the fat is removed in a centrifuge. That is a high speed spinner that seperates fat from water. Once you have removed the fat you have removed almost all the nutritional value of the milk, for example, vitamin A,E,K,D. What you really have now is sugar (lactose) and water with some protein perhaps. So then if you are buying skim milk, synthetic vitamin and other additives are added back in. There are usually other industrial processes involved. If you make low fat milk you basically add real milk to skim milk and that lowers the fat content usually by about half. (2% eg Half and Half) instead of 4% in full cream milk. I mean, even if it was healthier (which it's not) why would you bother? In a half a pint of milk (300ml) your total real milk fat content is 12g or half and half is 6g.
If your daily fat intake is 80 to 100g, it makes little difference. If you are trying to lose weight by cutting out fats (which will not work by the way) then you are unlikely to be drinking a large glass of milk per day.
Get full cream milk from Jersey cows that has the yellowest colour you can find.
Don't you hate all the hype about Acai berries, chia seeds and flax seeds? I know I do, but unfortunately they have a point. If you have read my section on vitamins and supplements it will tell you why supplements can be a problem. Superfoods are really a reaction to the vitamin hoax. Superfoods are really vitamin tablets in disguise. That statement is not quite right, vitamins are superfoods in disguise. You will most likely find with superfoods that each one of them has either an important vitamin, mineral ,oil or amino acid that we have been missing from our diets. It is missing from our diets mostly because of the way food is produced now that is lacking in those vitamins and minerals. Being a natural food, its much harder for the superfood producers to muck it up or get it wrong. I'm sure they will try though, I mean who doesnt want to increase yield and reduce costs? Of course with superfood you are selling to a much more educated/aware market so you had better be organic at least or you will lose your customers.
Caviar and older superfoods
We have all heard of Caviar. Its basically fish eggs. There are different types. The more exotic the better. Like the more risk the guys have to take to harvest the stuff, the better, the higher the cost. What is the ingredient that makes caviar the most expensive food in the world? Its omega 3's and cholesterol. This is something that was valued by our forefathers. The more cholesterol the better. A teaspoon of caviar has the same cholesterol as a litre of milk. Thats why people love the stuff.
I have also heard that Caviar works as a mild antidepressant, could it be the omega 3's?
Look, I love this stuff. It is a superfood just like caviar above. Here's a good story.
I was in Maine in the USA about 25 years ago. Maine is the lobster capital of the world. I spent a few hours with a local which was fun.
He told me that there was a law in Maine that you could not feed lobster to the prisoners (in jail) more than three times a week.
The law was enacted about 100 years ago. The law came about because apparently there were riots in the jail because they were feeding lobster to the prisoners five or more days per week. At the time lobster was a by-catch. It was the junk that the fishermen threw away. Nobody wanted this stuff, so the greedy prison wardens took it for almost nothing and fed it to the prisoners regularly. The prisoners got the shits(not literally) and rioted. They were sick of being fed this junk and wanted some real meat. Now we know that lobster is a superfood. We eat it when its available and pay a top shelf price for it. Poor old prisoners would love it but never get it any more. (Be careful what you wish for)
Lobster is super high in cholesterol and omega 3. Thats what makes a superfood!
Chia is high in Omega 3 and soluble fibre.
They are the same thing. Also high in fibre and omega 3. The oil oxidises easily so you need to grind them up yourself and consume traight away.
I suspect they are high in vitamin C and polyphenols. All this is good but I dont know if they help depression.
Bone Broth is a superfood, especially for those of us with compromised guts.
Bone broth is basically bones of any animal with a little meat on, boiled up in water for many hours. You can add vegetables and salt to taste.
What this does is release a lot of stuff from the bones, marrow and skin, like amino acids and minerals and collagen. These are the amino acids that you are missing out on when you just eat muscle meat. It is great for healing the gut and taking away the leakiness.
If you do a google search you will find a million recipes for Bone Broth.
One caveat on Bone Broth. If you have a super compromised gut (you will probably know it) or if you have a histamine intolerance, and you probably wont know it, then Bone Broth can be too strong for you. Thats not a problem, you just do a small tweak, you boil the bones for a shorter time.
Eat Real bread
I am not a fan of wheat but I do eat it often enough. Apart from all of the gluten intolerance you hear about, much of which is true, I think eating modern wheat is inflammatory to your gut and possibly the rest of your body. This is more of a general health issue rather than a mental health issue. As you have probably learned by now, general health, gut health and mental health are closely linked. Wheat bread and wheat products are everywhere and difficult to avoid. Just try to limit them if you can.
In terms of bread, if you have read my other stuff, you will know that wholemeal flour is best because of the fibre content.
First of all, bread is made primarily of wheat. Is the wheat GMO? Probably not. Most wheat today is the dwarf kind, that means it is about 1m (3ft) tall with a huge head of seeds on it. This wheat was introduced in about 1950/1960. It differs from the pre-1960 wheat which was much taller and had fewer seeds. It also has about double the number of chromosomes as the pre-1960s wheat. Is that significant? I don’t know, but for certain, it is different. Now the wheat also has a higher gluten content, could that be significant? Then we make white flour from the wheat. The white flour has much less of the wheat bran compared to say a stone ground flour of 150 years ago. Now we add water and yeast (plus a few helpers) to make the bread. In an hour or two the bread has risen with bubbles from the yeast and we bake the bread and its ready to eat. Back at home 150 years ago we didn’t have a packet of yeast laying around so we might have borrowed a yeast culture from our neighbours or made a sourdough culture ourselves. Regardless, we would have added the culture to the bread mix and waited about 24 hours for the bread to rise twice before cooking it. The 24-hour process called “proving” partially digests the proteins in the bread mix so that our bodies do not have to digest such a big gluten load. Today, most bread goes from flour to bread in about 2 hours. Its not bread its Franken bread, Pseudo bread, it looks and tastes like bread, but it ain’t bread.
What to do?
Well you could make your own bread from scratch, but who has the time? Just try to get the best bread you can find. If I get white bread, I get it from Banjos bakery and it has been proved (risen) for 18 hours. Otherwise I will try to get wholemeal bread and the best quality I can find. Its usually expensive though like $5+ per loaf. Hey, I told you your grocery bill would go up.
eat your vegetables-yes mum
Your mother was right, eat your veggies. There is a project in the USA called the American Gut Project. The AGP is collecting samples of poo from all over the world and analysing them for their bacteria. They also analyse skin and mouth bacteria, but thats for a different discussion. What they have found is that hunter gatherers have the most diverse gut bacteria. They have also found that the healthiest people are those with the most diverse range of vegetables in their diet. So having vegetables appears to be good for our gut health and the more diverse the vegetables the better. Unfortunately, in the modern world, we tend to have a pretty small range of vegetables.
Eat vegetables. The variety is important as is the quality. Green is vitamins, fibre, minerals.
Vegetables are full of vitamins (the real sort), minerals, protein, and yes healthy fats. They are a powerhouse. Obviously you want to limit your exposure to pesticides, weed killers, artificial fertilisers artificial ripening practices etc. I think the real value of vegetables is in their fibre content. That is they feed your gut bacteria with fibre that is not broken down in your stomach and small intestine. Here's a couple of good tips.
I have always told my children, potatoes are not vegetables. What you are looking for in a helpful vegetable is green. I mean orange carrots are ok and yellow squash (zucchini) or white cauliflower, but green is where the action is. Potatoes are a pulse and beans are a legume. I'm not saying cut out beans or potatoes but get green veggies for preference.
Cooking veggies often reduces the amount of available vitamins but not always. Who eats raw broccoli anyway? Generally the longer you cook the more nutrient loss there will be. To my mind, cook them as much as you like for taste. Add salt if you are boiling, it cooks veggies faster, helps break down insoluble fibre like cellulose and makes them taste better. When cooked put a generous slab of butter on them to bring out the taste which also adds good fats to your diet (and it tastes better).
Modern agriculture has made great strides in feeding the world, but its all about making money and yield. We shouldn’t be surprised or angered, we all do it, reduce inputs, maximise outputs. There is nothing sinister going on. Let's just pick on zucchini, one of my favourites. I have been told that during the last 48 hours of growing a zucchini that if you water heavily, the zucchini will double its size in two days. Well what happens? If you were in a virtual drought for months and then suddenly presented by heaps of water, you would drink until you were sick right? Lets take a camel. A camel walks through the desert for 10 days and nights. No water. Then it comes across an oasis and drinks its fill. Lets say a (dry) camel weighs 600 kg. It drinks 100kg of water and its ok for another 10 days walking. Has it added to its vitamin A, or C, or B or fat content or iron? NO. But it now weighs more. Same with your zucchini. It takes on an extra 50g or 100g of water in its last 48 hrs. It doesn’t have a hump so it stores its water in its cells. Has it taken in an extra amount of vitamin A or vitamin B or C or D? NO. It's just gotten bigger. So you should buy the smallest zucchini in the shop not the largest. Why? Because the larger ones basically have more water not more nutrients. When you buy the larger ones you are just buying more water. If it’s a tomato the water costs $4 per kg. If its broccoli its $6 per kg. If its oranges its $3 per kg. Who cares? It's all water. Why not buy the smallest orange? It will most likely have the greatest nutrient density to weight ratio. But we are all evolutionarily or nurtured to buy the biggest one because we think it is the healthiest. The biggest pig is not the best one, it just has the highest fat content. Same with vegetables. We buy them by weight, not their vitamin C content. If a farmer uses synthetic fertilisers like NPK that is good for the plant (the zucchini). It;s like giving sugar to a small child. The child gets more energy and grows bigger quickly. But the zucchini can only get so many nutrients from the soil. Firstly, there are only so many nutrients available. Secondly, the plant can only take up the nutrients at a certain rate. So basically the fertiliser is great for helping the plant grow, but does nothing for it in terms of nutrient uptake or health. It's just been fed sugar all its life. It comes out looking plump and healthy, but have you ever noticed how the little zucchinis are really green and the big ones are sort of light green? That’s a reduction in their nutrient content.
So when it comes to vegetables:
Try to buy organic
The greener the better
Smaller is often better than larger.
Buy the ones covered in dirt.
Get plenty of them
Cook to your liking
Add salt and butter.
There are some foods that naturally contain serotonin or a precursor to serotonin called Tryptophan or L-Tryptophan. Here's a couple of short stories about my experience with Tryptophan foods.
I find it very hit and miss but worth it if you notice a benefit. Apparently, whether or not you get the tryptophan from foods has to do with what other foods you are eating at the time. For example the tryptophan in the turkey will get better taken up if you eat the turkey with carbohydrates (like bread or potatoes). This is a complex story and I don't yet have a full handle on it, but think of it like this. The piece of turkey will contain many amino acids like aspartic acid, leucine, glutamic acid, lyceine, methionine, arginine, serine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. All of these amino acids "compete" for digestive enzymes and digestion. So, if tryptophan is the least/smallest, then it will be processed last, or later. So, you can eat high tryptophan foods, but you might not get access to the tryptophan.
Heres a list of high tryptophan foods from the internet and my own experience (Marked *).
Mushrooms* (not all varieties)
Masa Flour (made from corn)**
** we never see mouldy corn in australia. This is a blue/green corn which has been infected by a special mould whilst it is still growing. Apparently, the mould produces a tryptophan that is largely missing from natural corn. Masa Flour is available in Australia and is cornflour cooked in an alkaline solution. This apparently liberates the Niacin or tryptophan. I have not tried it yet, but I will soon. It's not expensive.
Here's a story about serotonin foods. I was in Singapore a few years back and I had the depression at the time. I'm guessing 2013. I only had one day there. In the last few hours of the day we went to the Marina Bay Hotel and had a Stella Artois beer on the top floor bar which is brilliant. Then we did a bit of shopping in the Mall which is less than brilliant because the prices are high. Then we got a drink and some fresh cut pineapple at the 7-11. I had never seen POM pomegranate/blueberry juice, so I had that, yummy. Then we walked across the bridge to another mall and then got in a big line waiting for a taxi to the airport. The kids were thirsty so they bought a sour green apple slushy from 7-11 which they didn’t like and handed it to me. I had a few sips agreed it was pretty awful and threw it away. We waited a long time for a taxi and finally got underway to the airport. Then I had this like subtle rush of good vibes which lasted for quite a few hours. It was like the veil of depression lifted. I wanted to know why and I examined what had led up to that time. My conclusion was the pomegranate juice as I’d never had it before. So I researched pomegranate juice and there definitely seemed a relationship. I was staying on an island for the next week so there was no way to test out the theory. As soon as I got back to Singapore I went straight to the shop and got some pomegranate juice. NADA. I mean it tasted nice and all but that’s it. I got some blueberries as well in case that was it, NADA. Dissappointed I tried a combination of pineapple and POM juice, NADA. I tried having a beer, then POM and pineapple, NADA. What was going on? Maybe it was the green apple slushie. Well, I don’t know, you can’t get them in Australia, but I did look at all the ingredients and tried them all out (maybe, its hard to find the exact recipe). Anyway, I still don’t know, but I am searching for answers. Now, in the last few years I have repeated that experience several times. Like feeling real chilled for a few hours after eating something. It happened only a few weeks back and it was just a home-made curry, but I also had a big drink of sparkling water with it. I tried repeating it the next day – NADA.
All I can say is this. Seretonin foods work and I have experienced it probably 4-5 times. Each time it occurs now I realise what has happened but I don’t seem to be able to repeat it. There must be cofactors at work here. I reckon I will crack the code one day but I don’t know it yet. I know turkey works too but it might be that you need it with carbs, like in a sandwich. A lot of people report the Turkey effect after Thanksgiving but apparently the same amount of tryptophan is in chicken. Like I say, there must be some cofactors going on and I dont know what they are.
This should be part of everyone's diet on a daily basis. Particularly important if you have depression.