Monday, October 6, 2014

Pastured Poultry and Mental Health

Beyond filling our tummies with yummies, poultry can be an important source of many nutrients that are important for our mental health.  Free range, pastured poultry have significantly better nutrients levels than chickens from mega factory farms.

By Jennifer Halton

Poultry Is Rich in Nutrients that Enhance Mental Well-Being

Mental health problems are more common than many of us realize and according to the Canadian Mental Health Association around 8% of us will experience major depression, with many more suffering from milder forms of this illness. While medication and talking therapies are available to manage depressive symptoms, the role that a nutritious diet can play in its treatment should not be underestimated. In fact, Dietitians of Canada (2012) highlight the importance of nutrient dense foods for promoting good mental health and treating mental illness, including depression. High quality poultry from organic and free range sources fits well within a diet aimed at enhancing mental well-being, as chicken and turkey offer several key nutrients linked to mental wellness.

Omega-3 fatty acids enhance mood

As we recently explored, organic chicken is a useful source of omega-3 fats. This is good news for anyone suffering from depressed mood, as health food store Rachelle Berry points out there is a proven link between enhanced intake of omega-3 fatty acids and easing depressive symptoms. Their report discusses several clinical studies that show clear benefits of upping our intake of omega-3 when it comes to our mood. For instance, a study by Montreal researchers demonstrated that depressed people receiving a daily dose of 1050mg of the omega-3 oil EPA for 8 weeks benefited from improved mood.

EPA is Eicosapentaenoic acid, one of the Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).  It is also known as icosapentaenoic acid, timnodonic acid, or 20:5(n-3).

They also cite evidence that people with low mood, but who don’t have clinical depression, can also benefit mentally from extra omega-3. When it comes down to the role that omega-3 fatty acids play in combatting mood disorders, EPA acts as a chemical messenger in nerve cells and helps to block production of inflammatory signalling molecules that are linked to depression.

Tryptophan boosts serotonin

Poultry is rich in the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is responsible for that contented and sleepy feeling you get after eating a chicken or turkey dinner. There is a good reason why tryptophan has this effect on us, as Restorative Formulations explains that this amino acid enhances production of the mood boosting chemical messenger serotonin, which also regulates our appetite and sleep. Health Link British Columbia (2013) discusses the link between low levels of serotonin and depressed mood, and how this is used in a class of antidepressants that increase serotonin production. Low serotonin levels aren’t just limited to depression though, as Bulimia highlights that mood disorders are common among patients with anorexia and bulimia, which helps to explain the association between eating disorders and substance abuse. Making chicken and turkey a regular part of your diet is a natural way to increase serotonin levels and keep related disorders at bay.

B vitamins reduce depression risk

There is also interest in the role that B vitamins play in promoting a balanced mood, particularly with reference to vitamin B6 and B12. Poultry is especially a good source of vitamin B6, with 100g of chicken providing almost one-third of our daily requirement for the vitamin. Advanced Orthomolecular Research reports how a higher intake of both B vitamins is associated with a significantly lower risk of depression among seniors. This connection between B vitamins and mood can be explained by the impact they have on a substance known as homocysteine. As JAMA Psychiatry (2008) explains higher levels of homocysteine are linked with a greater chance of depressive symptoms and vitamin B6 and B12 can bring down raised levels of homocysteine, enhancing mental wellness.

Selenium cuts depressive symptoms

The mineral selenium is another nutrient linked to better mood.  Selenium in our diet has been depleted over the years due to intensive farming that has contributed to soil depletion.  Most commercial chicken feeds now contain added selenium to boost the health of the animal as it grows and develops.  It is easy for consumers of good quality poultry to get enough of this mineral, as a 100g portion of chicken provides almost 40% of our daily selenium needs.  This also means that when you eat chicken that has been fed in this way, you're also automatically upping your own levels of this mineral too. An article in Nutrition Research Reviews (2012) presents evidence for the benefits of selenium on mood. The researchers report on studies that show the value of a selenium rich diet, as well as supplementing low selenium intakes, with improved depression scores seen among women with postnatal depression. Selenium’s role in promoting mental well-being may relate to its antioxidant activity, which may help to preserve healthy levels of thyroid hormones and dopamine, both of which control our mood. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Off-topic commercial spam that's posted so as to help sell your wares will be deleted.

On-topic comments, where you behave yourself and play nicely, will remain posted; whether they are pro or con. Everybody needs to fully understand all points of view so that we can find a solution that encompasses everybody's concerns. Give it your best shot.

If you decide to post, your posting becomes part of the public record, and SFPFC has full rights to use it (or not) in any reasonable manner or medium that suits our purposes.

Before posting, please proofread, and correct as necessary. If you subsequently discover a need to fix your previous posting, make an additional posting that refers to the original posting, then set the record straight.