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Hepatitis C Report: Four Food Groups to Lift Depression
October 6, 2011
Applicable to many with chronic Hepatitis C, eating foods rich in these four elements has been shown to help depression sufferers lift their spirits.
by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.
More than most other populations, people with chronic Hepatitis C are particularly prone to depression. Getting relief from clinical depression typically requires a physician’s guidance; but eating the right foods is a relatively simple way to help those affected get started on feeling better. Food can be either beneficial or detrimental to one’s health. As such, diet can be a powerful tool for lifting depression. Even more specifically, the four food groups described below are known to help boost emotional well-being.
About Depression and Hepatitis C
As if battling the Hepatitis C virus were not enough of a burden, a substantial percentage of chronic Hepatitis C patients also struggle with a major depressive disorder at some point during their illness. Moments of feeling down are normal, especially when dealing with a potentially life-altering disease. However, when feeling down turns into clinical depression – it should not be ignored.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a major depressive disorder:
- persists for at least two consecutive weeks.
- is characterized by depressed mood or anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure from normally pleasurable life events, such as eating, exercise, social or sexual interaction).
- is accompanied by at least four of the following:
- Overwhelming sadness or emptiness
- Lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities
- Appetite or weight changes
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Changes in psychomotor activity
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Difficulty focusing, concentrating or making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation
- According to the DSM-IV criteria, reported prevalence rates for major depressive disorder are higher in those with Hepatitis C than the general population:
- An estimated 24 to 70 percent of people with chronic Hepatitis C are clinically depressed.
- An estimated 6 to 10 percent of the general population is clinically depressed.
Food Can Help
While there’s no specific diet capable of curing a major depressive disorder, certain foods can improve one’s mood. It is important to note that any diet is not a substitute for proper medical care. However, these four food groups may assist a program to treat clinical depression:
- The Right Carbohydrates – Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, kamut, spelt and quinoa rank high on the list of the right carbohydrates. There are two main reasons that the right carbohydrates are linked to good moods. The first is that carbohydrates boost serotonin – a chemical in the brain known to lift mood. The other major reason is that whole grains provide a steady supply of fuel, which helps avoid the blood sugar crash-and-burn that can lead to crabbiness and mood swings. As a plus to those with Hepatitis C, preventing high blood sugar levels helps protect the liver from fat accumulation in its cells.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acid Foods – Participants in a 2002 study featured in the Archives of General Psychiatry took just a gram of omega-3 fish oil each day and noticed a 50 percent decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts and decreased sex drive. Other studies show that people who infrequently eat fish, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, are more likely to suffer from depression. Some of the best sources for omega-3s are walnuts, flaxseed and oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. In addition, omega-3s help ease the inflammatory process that can worsen Hepatitis C.
- Vitamin Bs (6, 9 and 12) – In a Spanish study of nearly 9,000 people, the rates of depression tended to increase in men as folic acid (Vitamin B9) intake decreased. The same increase occurred for women but with a decreased intake of Vitamin B12. Folic acid is found in yeast, liver, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, strawberries and whole grain cereals. Vitamin B12 can be found in liver, meat, egg yolk, poultry and milk. In addition, Vitamin B6 may help depression since it is needed to produce the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Foods that are rich in Vitamin B6 include liver, meat, brown rice, fish, butter, wheat germ, whole grain cereals, bell peppers, spinach, bananas and soybeans. In addition, a diet rich in the B vitamins helps those with liver disease by improving energy levels and preventing anemia during antiviral treatment.
- Vitamin D – Various types of studies have demonstrated that low Vitamin D levels correlate with depression. Especially important for those who have limited exposure to sunlight, concentrated food sources of Vitamin D include salmon, sardines, shrimp, shitake mushrooms, milk, cod and eggs. Among salmon, wild-caught fish have been shown to average significantly more Vitamin D than non-organically farmed fish. Although requiring more evidence, some research has indicated a Vitamin D deficiency in those with chronic Hepatitis C, prompting investigation into adding Vitamin D to Hepatitis C antiviral therapy.
There is enough evidence to suggest that depression may stem from poor nutrition. However, individuals living with chronic Hepatitis C are vulnerable to a depressive disorder for several other reasons, such as medication side effects or psychological and biological impacts of the virus. From a multidimensional healing perspective, eating the right foods is one component of a solid depression treatment plan. Luckily, altering your diet to focus on the right carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as foods rich in the B vitamins and Vitamin D cannot only help lift your mood – but they also constitute a diet typically recommended for anyone with chronic Hepatitis C.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-mood-improving-foods.html, 7 Mood-Improving Foods, Sara Novak, Planet Green, Retrieved May 20, 2011, care2.com, Inc., 2011.
http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/foods-that-fight-depression.aspx, Foods That Fight Depression, Chris Iliades, MD, Retrieved May 22, 2011, Everyday Health, Inc., 2011.
http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2009/01/why_depression.html, Why Depression is Likely with Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved May 21, 2011, Hepatitis Central, 2011.
http://www.mamashealth.com/nutrition/vitaminb.asp, Vitamin B, Retrieved May 22, 2011, MamasHealth, Inc., 2011.
http://www.naturalnews.com/020611.html, The Top Five Foods for Beating Depression, Erin Bates, Retrieved May 21, 2011, Natural News Network, 2011.
http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery, Depression and Diet, Retrieved May 20, 2011, WebMD, LLC, 2011.
http://www.weightandwellness.com/id41.html, Foods that Heal Depression, Retrieved May 21, 2011, Nutritional Weight and Wellness, Inc., 2011.
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=110, Vitamin D, Retrieved May 22, 2011, The George Mateljan Foundation, 2011.
Posted by Editors on October 6, 2011
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