When it comes to protein, not all is created equal!
Proteins are large, complex molecules made from amino acids. They are responsible for doing most of the work that occurs in our cells, and for providing the material needed to build important structures. They are critical for the function and regulation of all the body’s tissues. They also play an important role in muscle tissue maintenance and strength.
Protein is incredibly important for our bodies and minds, however when thinking about sources of protein, we often jump to thinking about beef, chicken, and pork. While organic, grass fed animal products can be beneficial for health, a large, 32 year study which looked at correlations between health and animal vs plant proteins found some interesting results!
The study found that individuals who tend to have unhealthy lifestyle habits such as heavy drinking, smoking, lack of exercise were less likely to have negative health consequences and even less risk of death when their consumption of plant based proteins was higher. However, the more animal protein consumed by these types of individuals, the more risk of disease and death! This link was strongest for the processed meats. The connection is likely that many of these lifestyle habits can lead to inflammatory processes in the body which creates cardiovascular issues like atherosclerosis. This puts individuals at risk for heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. By consuming a higher amount of animal products, these inflammatory cascades may be pushed further and faster. By consuming higher amounts of plant based products often able to decrease inflammation, reduce cholesterol levels, and balance blood sugars - they may serve to compensate for some of the processes in the body.
Interestingly, people with a healthier lifestyle did not seem to experience the negative effects of animal based proteins. However, it would certainly be worthwhile for even the healthiest of individuals to reap the benefits of plant based proteins!
So what sort of plant proteins are best? Here are a few of my favourite ways to incorporate them into my diet:
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) - OR - oatmeal!
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 cups baby arugulaPreparation1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Place beans in a large bowl; lightly mash. Stir in onion and next 7 ingredients. Divide mixture into 4 portions; shape each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
3. Arrange patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 8 minutes; turn after 6 minutes. Add bun halves to pan; bake 3 minutes.
4. Combine mayonnaise, Sriracha, and juice; spread over bottom halves of buns. Top each serving with 1 patty, 1/2 cup arugula, and top halves of buns.
Eat those Plants!! Enjoy!!
A series of case studies have shown success in helping people with bipolar disorder who are not improving with medication get off of those medications, and stabilize long term using a combination of natural therapies and counselling.
Bipolar disorder is one of the top 10 leading causes of disability globally with up to 6% of US population affected. Often little hope of recovery is provided for patients with bipolar disorder, and even the definitions of “recovery” or “improvement” vary. If improvement does not occur, patients are said to be “treatment resistant” and are most often found to be unable to sustain a content mood for any significant period of time.
This bleak outlook is exactly why I feel passionately about Integrative Mental Health. More drugs than ever are being prescribed for mental health conditions and yet, more mental health conditions are being diagnosed and unsuccessfully treated than before.
Furthermore, the side effects from these medications can be just as debilitating as the disease themselves. These medications are often not tested for their use together, especially for long term use– yet this is the staple of treatment. That being said, in certain situations, medications can be essential, and truly be life-saving. They can return a level of function that was lost with cycles of mania and depression.
The issue is, there needs to be more.
There needs to be more options, more of a whole person approach, and a more positive outlook on the potential of recovery for these individuals.
Dr. Gurevich, a holistic psychiatrist is, fortunately, doing just that – providing more. He has recently published two case reports on the treatment of bipolar disorder specifically. He was able, through a series of integrative treatment phases, to allow patients to come off of their psychiatric medications through holistic treatments and these patients remained stable for over a year.
Dr. Gurevich enlisted various approaches.The first approach was to address the possible underlying causes of an individual’s bipolar disorder. This is an important point, because it recognizes bipolar disorder for what it is – a pattern of symptoms, moods, and behaviours, rather than a specific neurochemical imbalance which has yet to be proven. Instead, he looked at psychological traumas, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, allergies, food sensitivities, chronic infections, and toxicities.
To address these potential causes or triggers, various detoxification regimes, supplementation, counselling, and lifestyle changes were advised.
Once these factors were in place, medications were able to be tapered under medical supervision. They were also tapered at the correct speed which is based on a number of factors – how long the person has been on the medication, how sensitive the patient might be, and so forth. As these medications were lowered, new supportive therapies were added in such as vitamins, minerals, botanicals, even homeopathics [A surprising find in a psychiatric office]!
The final phase was to ensure long term stability. For some this meant ongoing counselling and support, for others acupuncture was helpful, for most supplements were continued. If issues arose, they were addressed quickly.
Ultimately, the treatment approach was designed to address not only biological needs, but psychological, and spiritual as well. Some of the specific approaches used included:
Best part of all, was that it worked!
The cases involved in these treatment plans were able to withdrawal from medications, achieve long term remission from bipolar symptoms, and all previous side effects from medications and withdrawal of medications were eliminated. While this approach was used with a relatively low number of patients so far, it is certainly promising, and intuitively should make sense to most people. By addressing the whole person, and using individualized approaches to that person’s unique story, you will have better outcomes.
If you or someone you know is suffering with bipolar disorder and would like to learn more about how Naturopathic Mental Health may be able to help, please feel welcome to schedule a free 30 minute assessment with Dr. Ashley.
To learn more about the study, visit:
A vibrant, warming herb often used in the culinary world for soups, curry, and stews, it has also gained a lot of attention in the research realm. Here are some of the interesting things this herb can do!
Low Mood, Depression, and Anxiety
In a double blind, randomized trial, saffron was compared to the popular anti-depressant Prozac. Not only was it found to be just as effective but patients did not experience many of the common side effects of anti-depressant medications. Other similar trials have shown saffron to be superior to other commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications.
It works well for improving mood, reducing anxiety, but also improving general health status. It is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-atherosclerotic [meaning it prevents blood vessel clogging!]. These functions are important because they help to address some of the underlying causes of depression such as inflammation, and oxidative stress but these functions also reduce the risk of long term cardiovascular disease which is often increased with major depression.
Indigestion, Stomach Pains, and Inflammation
We are what we eat, but more so, we are what we absorb. Good digestion is one of the keys to good health. Without it, we get bloating, cramping, gas, pain, irregular bowel movements - but even worse, we start to damage our intestinal tract. Poor digestion leads to inflammation in the gut, disruption of the helpful bacteria, and reabsorbing toxins that our bodies are supposed to get rid of.
Saffron can certainly be a player in the digestive game. It acts as a carminitive and an anti-inflammatory which means that it helps to calm and soothe the digestive lining. It has also been shown to reduce spasms within the intestines, allowing for proper digestion and absorption of food.
This allows for a calm belly, and a happy body!
Blood Sugar & Diabetic Support
Saffron has been shown to help regulate blood sugars by improving insulin sensitivity. Insulin, over time, can become less sensitive with over exposure to sugar and sugar imbalances in the body. This process can turn into Type II Diabetes. Saffron not only improves insulin sensitivity, but it can also help to lower blood sugar levels making it helpful for pre-diabetics and diabetics. However, blood sugar dysregulation in general is a common theme in our over-processed, over-packaged, over-sugared way of eating; it's something I speak [and write] about often because it is such a powerful determining factor of our energy levels, mood, and overall health. Saffron, in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, can complement a blood sugar regulating plan.
3 in 1:
Interestingly, low mood, poor digestion, and blood sugar dysregulation are a commonly found trio in my clinic! I love finding natural medicines that work on multiple systems of the body, and saffron certainly fits the bill! Give saffron a try in your kitchen to reap the benefits of this helpful herb on a daily basis, or speak to me, or your ND about whether saffron might be the right supplement for you!
Yours in Health!
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