Whole Foods as Anti-Depressants?

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I was shocked to read in the National Post (January 2014) that Canada is one of the top three consumers of anti depressants (behind Iceland and Australia). We take twice as many antidepressants as Italians, and more than the Germans, French or English. As a former ex-pat of this fine country I find this incredulous news. Aren’t we one of the most abundant, free, financially stable, diverse, and well-cared for countries on the planet? I have to ponder, why then, are we so depressed?

Apparently, even our top psychiatrists, like Dr. Joel Paris of McGill University, are speaking out to say that too many Canadians are treating life’s normal spells of misery the way they would handle something cosmetic they dislike about their bodies –by asking a doctor for a quick fix. His article states that psychotropic drugs are too easily dispensed by family physicians and that “over diagnosis is much more common now than under diagnosis”.

What is depression anyway? Depression in itself is not a true emotion. It is an amalgamation of many different emotions, including sadness, grief, loneliness, anxiousness, discouragement, and perhaps even suppressed anger. Saying you’re depressed takes away your responsibility for finding the underlying cause. It negates the emotion you are feeling and your empowerment to change it.

Human emotions are meant to be felt. They are a normal and healthy way of dealing with life experiences. I often witness my 3 year old twin granddaughters exhibit a roller coaster of emotions in a very brief span of time. They can go from gleeful exuberance to abject crying spells and back to joy in a heartbeat. Emotions, if acknowledged and allowed expression, can change quickly.

We adults, on the other hand, have learned to lock away our emotions in a cabinet, not daring to let them out unless we are inebriated with alcohol or at a ball game.   We have established an appropriate level of expression that one dare not step beyond, curbing our joy and reining in our grief. Is it any wonder that emotions can get stuck, go longer than expected or become extreme? How can we help our brains survive emotional turmoil and thrive without depending on chemical intervention?

The brain and body are not designed to operate in a contra-survival way, so if there are signs of unwellness, be they emotional or physical, it is because of one of two causes:  We either over burden or under nourish the system. The brain is a mineral hog. Minerals catalyze the zillions of transactions the brain makes daily. Without minerals, the brain becomes sluggish, needy, disorganized and depressed.

Simplistically, I like to describe the brain as a huge parking lot, and its neuronal sites are compact car spaces where minerals are meant to park. Normally, we get our minerals from vegetables and these minerals are transported to the brain by the good fats we eat. So, if we neglect eating either plenty of vegetables or good fats, minerals cannot get to the brain and the parking stalls remain empty. Until, along come semi-trucks (i.e. large man-made molecules which are metal and chemical toxins, including, but not limited to, prescription drugs) and these large molecules take over the lot, occupying the spots and clogging up the brain with non-nutritive burdens. No wonder the brain gets anxious. It becomes a junkyard. Imagine how you’d feel if this happened in your driveway!

I cannot count how many people have come into my office complaining about sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression who have solved their problem fairly easily and quickly by eating whole food sources of minerals – lots of vegetables, and good fats — yes, loads of things like avocados, olives, coconut,sesame or fish oils, butter, healthy animal fat, nuts and seeds…

Here is a note I received from a mother of 5 who felt she was at the end of her rope:

“I knew my health was rapidly going downhill, which caused me to question if I’d be able to care for my family’s needs much longer. My constant pain and limited movement was making me grumpy and downright depressed. The list of symptoms was a mile long and growing, and I just didn’t have my former look of health about me. Now, instead of dragging myself out of bed, I’m eager to start the day! After just a week or so with my body having the whole food supplements it craved, I was feeling wonderful improvements that gave me the willpower to stay with the program. My joints are nearly pain free and it is so exciting to have found a true Health Care Provider to help me do what needs to be done, without drugs, surgery or loss of dignity. Thank you Cathy!” — Kim B.

Could whole foods be your anti-depressants?


signature_w_heartCathy Lidster, Health Educator, offers free nutrition classes monthly. She can be reached at Centennial Building Wellness Centre, 250-819-9041, www.cathylidster.com, or cathylidster@gmail.com