Can the Mediterranean Diet Reduce Risk of Depression?

Can the Mediterranean Diet Reduce Risk of Depression?

Eating smart has so many positive health effects.  Not all of them are related to weight.   Mental health is just as important as your physical health.  What’s really cool is that many studies have indicated that certain dietary patterns can reduce the risk of depression in adults. This connection appears constant across countries, societies and populaces.  A dynamic cohort study compared and established specific relationships between three diet quality scores and depression.  This study was undertaken in the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) Cohort study.

You may be like some of us here at Walkingspree and asking yourself  ‘What is a dynamic cohort study exactly?’ We decided to give you an answer from the experts at  Nature.com.      “A cohort study is one in which a group of subjects, selected to represent the population of interest, is studied over time. Much like a cross-sectional study, information is collected about the outcome of interest and exposure to risk factors, but in cohort studies subjects are followed over time. Subjects are disease-free at the outset of the study and at distinct points in time, data are collected relating to health outcomes and exposure to risk factors.”

The definition also goes on to say that when a cohort study is dynamic, it simply means that new participants may enter the study over time.  For example, a new participant might enter the study if someone drops out.

So, in the SUN dynamic cohort study, they followed participants over a period of ten years.   University graduates were free of depression when the study began. Dietary intake was frequently evaluated from beginning to end. The study used three diet quality scores: Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern (PDP) and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010). Participants were categorized as having depression if they reported a new medical diagnosis of depression by a doctor or began using antidepressant medication throughout follow-up.

So what were the results?  1,051 incident cases of depression were found among 15,093 participants from the SUN Cohort after a average follow-up of 8.5 years.

Scientists categorized how well participants obeyed a specified diet with a scoring system rating them on a  range of weakly following the diet to moderately following it to strict adherence.

Researches compared the scores of those who were eventually diagnosed with depression to those who were not over the study period.

The results indicated that the Alternative Health Eating Index-2010 and the Mediterranean diet were both linked to the highest decrease of depression risk. Each diet has a high amount of omega-3 rich foods and vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes.

What is really interesting is that people who appeared to benefit the most recounted only moderately adhering to either diet.    Those that were super strict about sticking to either diet didn’t seem to gain any extra benefit– as a matter of fact, depression reduction swiftly plateaued for the strictest followers of the diets.

If you think you’d like to try the Mediterranean diet or take a look at it, take at look at some of these resources:

Mediterranean Diet:  A heart healthy eating plan

How to Start the Mediterranean Diet:  10 Things to Know

Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan That Can Save Your Life

Mediterranean Diet Followers Less Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

How You Can Get Started on the Mediterranean Diet

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Is Activity More Important Than Diet?

Being Overweight or Obese is Directly Connected to Activity.

A common thought for some time has been that obesity is related more to a person’s diet than anything else.  Some studies are showing that this may not be the case.  In fact, it’s becoming more usual for people to adjust their diets and make better food choices, as they get older.  This isn’t solving the problem of weight gain.   A recent study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal observed American adults ages 20 to over 70 years old (nearly 5,000 which is a large enough sample to achieve accurate findings).  What they found according to lead researcher Russell Pate, Ph.D., is “that increasing fatness with age in U.S. adults cannot be explained by changes in the quality of the diet they consume.”

The bottom line?   It is primarily physical activity that addresses the increasing obesity concern not diet.

Imagine the compounded savings accrued if a company were to tackle improving multiple health conditions while preventing other conditions?

The importance of employers helping employees become more active and engage in their own wellness cannot be understated.

Walkingspree’s program is a simple solution that directly addresses the need to decrease overall healthcare costs.   Walking is an activity that can improve and alleviate numerous health challenges.

That is the goal of a targeted corporate walking program like Walkingspree.  For further information, visit http://www.walkingspree.com or email sales@walkingspree.com.

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Why You Should Eat Slowly

Why You Should Eat Slowly

You’ve heard that you are supposed to eat slower and chew slower, right?  Many people think that the idea behind eating slower is to “trick the brain.”   It’s not just a psychological trick.

Thin People Eat Slower Have you ever noted that thinner people seem to take forever to finish their meals?  We all know that one person who seems to toy with their food and just takes longer to finish eating than everyone else.  Everyone is ready to leave but this person is still piddling with their food.  Sure, you may know of overweight people who eat slower.  Turns out, it is very common for thinner people to eat more slowly than others.  For many, this is the secret to their slim waistlines and thinner physiques.

Most of us eat too fast. As a result, we consume more calories than we need before we feel like we are no longer hungry.   Here’s why that happens:  It takes roughly 20 minutes from the moment you begin eating for your brain to issue signals of being full.

Eating slower makes sense. Eat slower because that will give your brain time to send out the signal.  You’ll take in less calories and feel full on less rather than more.

It feels good. Not only does eating unhurriedly and consciously assist you in eating less, it boosts the gratification of the overall dining experience.

Want to become a pro at slow, careful eating? Create a ritual.  Turn off distractions like the television, your phone and computer.  Play some music.  Light some candles.  Decorate the table.  Then focus on just enjoying your food.  We can all use extra quality time in our life.  This is a simple way to add a little more quality to yours while developing a healthy, beneficial habit.

Happy Friday!

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5 Reasons Eating Smart Really IS Smarter

5 Reasons Eating Smart Really IS Smarter

Sure, we’ve all heard that if we eat right, exercise and manage stress, we’ll lose weight and increase our chances of living longer.   But sometimes we forget all the other important elements of our health that are positively impacted by our nutritional habits.

There are numerous reasons to watch what we put into our bodies but let’s focus on some really cool reasons that eating smart really is smarter.

Mood Boosting and Positive Outlook

Yes.  You guessed it.  Your diet can impact how happy you feel, how you perceive life in general.  It can even influence how you handle problems and whether or not you get creative with your solutions.  In a recent study, the British Journal of Health Psychology found that young adults who increase their fruit and vegetable intake experience greater “flourishing.”  This means they’re happier and more curious than those who didn’t.  Positivity and creativity was also a benefit in this study.

Get Better Sleep

Anyone on Facebook or standing in line at a grocery store knows that there are countless articles and magazines touting the benefits of eating certain foods to help you sleep better.  But did you know that many of those articles are actually based on true studies?  Here’s one: The University of Texas conducted a study finding that walnuts are a source of tryptophan.  Tryptophan is an amino acid known for helping promote sleep.  It also helps produce serotonin and melatonin.  Walnuts are just one example of a healthy food helping you get a good night’s sleep.   Check out these four nutrients that help you sleep better.

Increased Brain Power

Eat Smart, Be Smart.  It’s true.  Certain foods have been shown to improve memory, help you stay mentally alert and even help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.   Most of us have heard that eating whole grains and getting our omega 3’s is healthy for memory and brain health.   Some of us did not realize that we could also get some brain boosting effects from pumpkin seeds, blackberries, sage, and broccoli.  Here’s 10 Foods to Boost Your Brainpower.

Pretty Skin

Everyone, male or female, prefers to see smooth, healthy skin when they look in the mirror each morning.  What if your diet and nutrition contributed to less wrinkles and a healthy glow?  Guess what?  It does!  Prevention Magazine put together a list of 8 Foods for Seriously Pretty Skin.

All in all, eating smart is a win-win.  What’s not to love about looking great, feeling awesome, sleeping like a baby and being intelligent?  All that and studies show that increased energy, weight management and living longer are also benefits.   Something to think about the next time you go for a snack.

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9 reasons you should try walking for transportation

This Austin-based writer sold her car and began walking to work every day, braving 103 degree heat, freezing temperatures, and even getting back to her routine after a nasty fall. What did she get from trading in her car for a pair of tennis shoes? Less stress, a new addiction to exercise, crazy financial savings, and a sense of well-being — to name a few.  We loved her story and hope you do too!

A year ago, I sold my car and committed to walking to work. Most weekdays, I walked a little under three miles to my office in downtown Austin. I encourage others who live within a reasonable walking distance from their offices to give it a try.

I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise. I figured if I did something extreme, like selling my car, I could reduce my carbon footprint while getting healthy and saving money. In 2013, I channeled my inner Forrest Gump and logged over 500 miles. Here are 10 reasons I’m hooked.

1. A three-mile walk once a day is not a big deal. Before I began walking to work, I casually dated a treadmill and had a few minor flings with the machines at the gym. I was miserable there. I hated waiting for a treadmill, I’m weird about smells (and the gym is full of them), and I always felt like a hamster, plugging along without a purpose. But walking with a purpose? It’s really not a big deal. If you are pokey like me, it will take you between 45 minutes to an hour to knock out three miles a day. The time passes quickly and next thing you know, you’ve made it to your destination.

2. Walking makes you feel fantastic. Every single day I walked — regardless of the weather or my mood before I left the house — I arrived at work feeling great. This is the first time in my entire life that I have felt that addicted to exercise. Exercise-addicted people used to drive me nuts, but I finally get it now. If I skip a day, I feel crummy, and by mid-morning I’m pumping myself up with coffee to stay awake.

3. If you sell your car and walk, you will save crazy money. I’m married with kids, so selling both cars isn’t an option for us. However, just ditching one car made a big difference. I don’t miss the car payment, the additional car insurance, the downtown parking fees, and the gas and maintenance. I also don’t miss the road rage.

4. Have a Plan B. Likely, you’ll need some flexibility for parent-teacher conferences and daytime errands. Austin offers Car2Go, a car share program where you simply check out a cute little smart car to use when you need it. I also rely on our city bus system and my wildly supportive husband, who picks me up from work many afternoons. Of course, not everyone has these options. If that’s the case, try and schedule some time to walk before work or after work when you can bring the kids along with you.

5. Walking reduces anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. I’m walking proof that it’s true. I’m a pretty high-strung gal, and when I walk, it makes a huge difference in how I handle stress.

6. Walking forces you away from screen time. It’s really refreshing to take a break from screens. While giving your neck and eyes a break, how about checking out the world around you? I actually see sunrises now. I also pass other walkers and feel an immediate sense of kinship. Some days, I get what I call “God’s bonus,” and a pack of shirtless guys half my age jog by, and I feel momentarily what grown men feel like when they ogle cheerleaders.

7. Worried you’ll get bored? Podcasts are the way to go. When I started walking regularly, my coworker suggested I subscribe to some podcasts, and recommended NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Now, I geek out to several podcasts several days a week. Here’s the iTunes Top 10 to get you going.

8. Be prepared. On Sunday nights, put your workout clothes and shoes somewhere visible so Monday morning you are ready to roll. This will keep you from making lazy Monday morning excuses.

9. Don’t stop. Make your walks a priority. Aside from one nasty fall I took a few months ago that knocked me out for a few days, I’ve been like a postman when it comes to my walks. I’ve walked when it’s 102 degrees, and this week, I left the house when it was below freezing. It’s that important. I never thought I would say that!

Do you live within a reasonable walking distance from your office? Do you ever walk to work, or would you consider it after reading this? Even if it’s impossible for you to get rid of your car, these tips definitely some of the benefits of walking!

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