The Truth About Vegan Diets

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Chlorogenic Acid: Anti-Anxiety Effects

It is known that poor blood sugar control is a cause of oxidative stress, and so the consumption of a Western diet, that have been shown to lead to insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control, may be a contributory factor in the development of anxiety and depression. Poor blood sugar control also causes a number of changes in the brain which can include modification of the activity of the enzymes aminolevulinate dehydratase (dALA-D), sodium and potassium ATPase and acetylcholinesterase (AChE). For example, it has been shown that diabetic rats have an increased activity of AChE and a decreased activity of d-ALA-D and sodium and potassium ATPase in the cerebral cortex. These changes are accompanied by increased oxidative stress. However, in one study, administration of chlorogenic and caffeic acid from coffee was able to attenuate the increase in AChE, while chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and coffee were able to prevent changes to d-ALA-D and sodium and potassium ATPase.

chlorogenic acid caffeic acid

The interesting thing about this study was that chlorogenic acid was also able to prevent anxious behaviour in the rats, suggesting that as well as modifying brain chemistry, it was also able to alter mood state. Chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid are two of the polyphenols found in coffee that belong to the hydroxycinnamate group of phytochemicals. They may have antioxidant effects which explains their effects on brain chemistry and behaviour.

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Stefanello, N., Schmatz, R., Pereira, L. B., Rubin, M. A., da Rocha, J. B. T., Facco, G., Maria Ester Pereira, M. E., de Andrade Mazzanti, C. M., Passamonti, S., Rodrigues, M. V., Carvalho, F. B., da Rosa, M. M., Gutierres, J. M., Cardoso, A. M., Morsch, V. M. and Schetinger, M. R. C. 2013. Effects of chlorogenic acid, caffeine, and coffee on behavioral and biochemical parameters of diabetic rats. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 388 (1-2): 277-286
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Polygonum multiflorum

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Red Meat, Fish or Fowl?

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Yoga To Treat Anxiety And Depression

Stress is a significant factor in the development of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. One of the best non-nutritional strategies for treating mood disorders is a programme of relaxation, and yoga can be an excellent way to achieve this. Studies have investigated the effects of yoga on the mood states of individuals and found that it can be highly beneficial. In one such study, healthy volunteers were trained in a programme of breathing, meditation and yoga over a series of days. They were then asked to perform the routine for 30 minutes each day over a period of 7 weeks. The results of the study showed that the yoga was significantly beneficial to the mental health of the subjects. Anxiety and stress were both reduced in the subjects, and this was accompanied by a significant increase in antioxidant capacity and a reduction in oxidative stress. These results support the contention that stress causes detrimental mood changes by increasing oxidative stress levels in the brain.  

yoga anxiety depression

While yoga is an effective non-nutritional strategy to combat mood disorders, it may be even more effective when combined with a plant based diet high in antioxidant phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Both strategies have been shown to improve mood disorders by reducing oxidative stress in the brain, and so they may compliment each other well.

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Agte, V. V. and Chiplonkar, S. A. 2008. Sudarshan KriyaYoga for Improving Antioxidant Status and Reducing Anxiety in Adults. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. doi: 10.1089/act.2008.14204: 96-100
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Degradation of Carotenes in Tea Leaves

Tea leaves contains a number of phytochemicals that are degraded during the fermentation step to produce black tea. It has been suggested that these degradation products contribute significantly to the aroma and taste of black tea. A number of studies have investigated the way carotenes degrade during black tea manufacture and this chemistry has been reported. For example, in one study tea leaves were shown to contain the carotenes neoxanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, and β‐carotene. The content of these carotenes in the fresh leaf was estimated to be around 0.053 % dry weight, but this decreased to between 0.026 and 0.030 % in fermented leaves. The authors showed evidence that β‐carotene was degraded during fermentation to β‐ionone, and that this process was dependent on the presence of β‐carotene, flavonols and tea enzymes. Evidence also shows that the way the tea is prepared can alter the content of β‐ionine and thus the aroma and taste of the finished product. Macerating the leaves for example increased the content of β‐ionine in the final tea product significantly.

black tea carotenes

The production of black tea is highly complex and the chemistry of black tea is not fully understood. Each black tea type has a unique aroma and taste that is a reflection of the phytochemical content of the original leaves, as well as the chemical processes they are exposed to during manufacture. In this regard, no two teas are the same, and the chemical composition is difficult to predict. However, the health effects of black tea are well established.

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Sanderson, G. W., Co, H. and Gonzalez, J. G. 1971. Biochemistry of tea fermentation: the role of carotenes in black tea aroma formation. Journal of Food Science. 36(2): 231-236
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Carotenoids in Black Tea

Carotenoids are antioxidant pigments found in plants. Like many plants the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is a good source of carotenoids, and there is evidence that they are bioavailable from brewed green and white tea. Once consumed, the carotenoids pass into the tissues of the consumer. However, in black tea the leaves of the tea plant are first oxidised during manufacture in a process called fermentation (not a true fermentation process). During this oxidation process the carotenoids are degraded to other products and these products have been investigated in black tea. In one study researcher identified four major carotenoids in the leaves of tea plants. These carotenoids were β-carotene, lutein, violaxanthine and neoxanthine. During the manufacture of the black tea the amounts of these carotenoids decreased considerably as they were oxidised.  The vitamin A content of black tea is therefore considerable lower than that of green and white tea. However, the carotenoid degradation products contributed to the flavour of the tea.

black tea carotenoids

Although carotenoids degrade during the manufacture of black tea, their degradation products may have important health effects. The ionine series of compounds, linalool and its oxides are considered to be formed as primary oxidation products of carotenoids from tea during oxidation of tea leaves, and these compounds may have health effects and also contribute significantly to the aroma and taste of black tea. Linalool for example may have anxiolytic effects in humans and animals.

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Hazarika, M. and Mahanta, P. K. 1983. Some studies on carotenoids and their degradation in black tea manufacture. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 34(12): 1390-1396
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Vegetable Juice Benefits Mood Disorders

A number of antioxidant phytochemicals have been shown to confer beneficial effects against mood disorders. This may relate to the ability of antioxidants to limit the detrimental effects of inflammation, a major cause of anxiety and depression. Vegetables are a rich source of antioxidant phytochemicals including carotenoids, terpenes and polyphenols and therefore it might be expected that vegetables are beneficial in the treatment of mood disorders. Studies have assessed the effects of vegetables on mental health and found they may possess beneficial mood elevating effects. For example in one study, researchers administered plain vegetable juice or a vitamin-fortified vegetable juice to a group of individuals with mild anxiety and depression. The results of the study showed that both treatments were effective at improving the mood of the subjects compared to a control group who received no juice. Therefore vegetable juice may confer beneficial mood effects and be an effective treatment for mild mood disorders.

vegetables anxiety depression

In this study, the vegetable juice provided to the subjects contained the equivalent to 350 grams of vegetables, with a high content of beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The vitamin fortified vegetable juice contained similar amounts of nutrients, with the addition of a number of vitamins. However, the effectiveness of both treatments suggests that it was not the added vitamins that were beneficial.

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Isobe, K., Kawano, T., Ukawa, Y., Sagesaka, Y. M., Ishizu, T., Nanmoku, T., Kawakami, Y. and Sasahara, S. 2015. Vegetable Juices Improved Depression and Anxiety in Slightly Depressed Individuals. Journal of Family Medicine and Community Health. 2(2): 1030
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Carotenoids In Tea: Beneficial Mood Effects

Evidence suggests that tea is a healthy drink. Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant through decoction of the dried leaves in hot water. This process passes many of the phytochemicals from the leaves into the water, and many of these phytochemicals are bioavailable and have health effects in humans and animals. Tea has been shown to have calmative effects and this has been attributed to the presence of the amino acid L-theanine as well as the flavonoid chemicals contained within the leaves. However, tea leaves also contain carotenoids, and these may contribute to the positive mental health effects of tea. A number of  carotenoids are present in tea leaves including β-carotene, lutein, neoxanthin, and violaxanthin. These carotenoids are present in green tea, but are oxidatively degraded during black tea manufacture to several volatile and non-volatile products. Therefore drinking green tea may provide more carotenoids compared to black tea.

carotenoids anxiety depression

Green tea appears to possess a different antioxidant profile compared to black tea. Not only does it contain more catechins and carotenoids, but green tea may also contain more vitamin E than black tea. However, some of the degradation products formed in the ‘fermentation’ stage of black tea manufacture may also function as antioxidants. Therefore although the antioxidant profiles differ, both black and green tea are healthy drinks, rich in antioxidants.

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Mohanpuria, P., Kumar, V. and Yadav, S. K. 2010. Tea caffeine: metabolism, functions, and reduction strategies. Food Science and Biotechnology. 19(2): 275-287
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Oranges (Citrus species)

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