Mind & Mood
Mushrooms & Mind
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University compared diet and mental health in more than 24,000 adults who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2016. Overall, those who consumed an average of 4.9 grams per day of any kind of mushroom were 69 percent less likely to have depression compared to those who ate fewer mushrooms, or who ate no mushrooms at all.
Mushrooms contain an important antioxidant amino acid, ergothioneine, which doctors believe may protect against cell damage; and vitamin B12, which has anxiety-fighting properties; also compounds containing nerve-growth factors; and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Reference: Journal of Affective Disorders; 2021, Vol. 294, 686-92
Probiotics improved sleep, reduced depression
This study included 40 otherwise healthy adults who reported chronic insomnia without sleep apnea. On one night preceding treatment, participants wore an electrocardiogram patch to objectively measure the sleep-wake cycle, and for two nights, had a medical technician monitor brain activity, eye movements, muscle activity or skeletal muscle activation, and heart rhythm, during sleep, in a test called a polysomnogram (PSG).
Participants then took a placebo or 6 billion colony-forming units of lactobacillus plantarum after dinner. After 30 days, compared to placebo, the lactobacillus group experienced fewer depressive symptoms, less fatigue, awakening, and arousal, a decrease in high-frequency brain wave activity, and improved quality of deep sleep.
Reference: Nutrients; 2021, Vol. 13, No. 8, nu13082820
Omega-3 and vitamin D preserved memory in AD, reduced depression
Omega-3 preserved memory in AD
In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), memory continually deteriorates. In the first phase of this study, 33 people with mild to moderate AD took 2,300 mg of omega-3 fish oil per day, or did not take omega-3 supplements. Doctors tested memory at the start of the study, and again at the end.
After three months, memory function remained stable in those with mild AD who had taken omega-3, while declining in those who had not taken the fish oil supplement. Participants then switched, with the non-supplement group beginning to take omega-3 and the other group stopping the supplement. After the following three months, memory function remained stable in those with mild AD who had begun taking omega-3 in the second phase.
Reference: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease; 2021, Vol. 83, No. 3, 1291-1301
Omega-3, vitamin D, and depression
In this study, 168 pre-diabetic women of childbearing age, who were also low in vitamin D, took a placebo; 50,000 IU of vitamin D every two weeks; 2,000 mg of omega-3 fish oil per day; or vitamin D and omega-3 together.
After eight weeks, symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep quality had all deteriorated for placebo while improving for all three supplement groups. Those taking omega-3 together with vitamin D saw the greatest improvement in these symptoms, and had the largest increase in circulating levels of vitamin D. Doctors said omega-3 with vitamin D improved mental health and sleep quality in pre-diabetic women of childbearing age who were low in vitamin D.
Reference: Brain and Behavior; 2021, brb3.2342, Published Online
Mood: Saffron and tryptophan improve mood
Saffron reduced depression in perimenopause
As women approach menopause—perimenopause—physical symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, and sleep disturbances can occur. Cognitive performance and mood factors such as depression and anxiety are also common. In this study, 82 perimenopausal women, aged 40 to 60, took a placebo or 14 mg of saffron extract twice per day. Doctors measured symptoms at the start and end of the 12-week trial.
Those who took saffron saw greater improvements in mood and psychological symptoms compared to the placebo group and, compared to the start of the study, saffron takers saw a 33 percent decrease in anxiety, and a 32 percent decrease in depression scores. There were no changes in either group for any of the physical symptoms.
Reference: Journal of Menopausal Medicine; 2021, Vol. 27, e8, Published Online
Tryptophan reduced anxiety, improved mood, sleep quality
In this review of 11 random controlled clinical trials on anxiety and mood, participants took a placebo or doses ranging from 140 to 3,000 mg of tryptophan per day.
Overall, those taking tryptophan reported decreases in anxiety and increases in positive mood. In four of the studies, there were significant decreases in negative feelings and increases in happy feelings for those taking tryptophan compared to placebo.
In a separate study, tryptophan reduced the amount of time awake after falling asleep, with those taking more than 1 gram falling back asleep after 29 minutes compared to 57 minutes for those taking doses less than 1 gram of tryptophan.
Reference: Journal of Dietary Supplements, 2021, Vol. 18, No. 3, Published Online
Reference: Nutrition Reviews, 2021, nuab027, Published Online
Saffron and probiotics improved sleep
Saffron increased evening melatonin levels
Melatonin is the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle, with the pineal gland producing and releasing melatonin at night. In this study, 120 adults who reported having insomnia and poor sleep, took a placebo, 14 mg or 28 mg of saffron, one hour before bed. Doctors used standard scales to measure sleep quality, mood, and biological factors.
After 120 days, those taking saffron saw significantly greater improvement in all sleep measures compared to placebo. Sleep quality improved an average of 23.43 percent in both saffron groups compared to 8.43 percent for placebo. Rating mood after awakening, the low and high saffron groups improved 7.26 and 14.42 percent, respectively, compared to 1.58 percent for placebo. The saffron groups saw similar improvements compared to placebo for insomnia. Salivary melatonin levels increased in both saffron groups.
Reference: Sleep Medicine; October, 2021, Vol. 86, 7-18