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Diet is Important...But Not Sufficient

answered 04:30 PM EST, Wed November 13, 2013
anonymous anonymous
Will a low inflammatory diet help with depression? If I skip fast food and all processed foods enough to reduce dietary inflammation is that all I need to do or do you have to pay more attention than that?

Dr. Mark Abrahams Says...

Dr.  Mark Abrahams . Abrahams

Firstly, I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical doctor or a doctor of oriental medicine (like an acquaintance I just returned an e-mail to). But I'll use an example based on my own medical condition to illustrate the point that diet, regardless of the claims made for it, are not always sufficient.

My body produces an excess of LDL cholesterol. I used to treat it with Red Yeast Rice, an OTC product that contained a naturally occurring statin compound. In 2002, my physician told me that the results for me were better than the pharmaceutical drug Mevacor®! 

But a year or so later, the FDA insisted that Red Yeast Rice suppliers, remove the statin compound from their products. I do not know how consistently suppliers followed through, but Red Yeast Rice no longer works for me. So, I went on Dr. Caldwell Eselstyne's 100% Oil-Free Vegan Diet (which ostensibly saved Bill Clinton's life). For 16 months, without cheating, I ate NO animal products (meat, fowl, fish, dairy), and NO oil or foods that contained oil (peanut butter, seeds, nuts, chocolate)! I learned to bake breads and foods without oil. My results? My LDL and triglyceride numbers got worse! For me, the cholesterol could NOT have come from foods, I was producing it in my body, and I finally had to concede to take a low dose statin drug. It worked. Within two months all my lipid and associated measures were in the normal range (except for HDL which was a bit low, so I've increased my exercise routine to bring it up).

I have been health and diet oriented since age 19, and now I'm 60. Genetics plays a major role in our physical and hence mental conditions. I am completely in favor of diet, supplements, vitamins (even experimenting with mega-vitamin therapy, though mostly dismissed in psychiatric circles), exercise, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and various meditations, before resorting to, or recommending anti-depressant pharmaceuticals. Personally, I went through a situational depression during my divorce 20+ years ago, and I could not tolerate the effects of the meds I requested, but I did get some relief from using (legal) Passion Flower (Passiflora Incarnata). I used it as one might use Cannabis, but it does NOT work if one currently uses Cannabis (THC apparently monopolizes the receptor sites needed). I have not been a Cannabis user for 30 years, so a few 'hits' on a pipe yielded mildly sedating and euphoric effects, as well as anxiolytic and anti-depressive effects for 24 hours. I understand that a tea also works, but I have no experience with it. I did not find Passion Flower to be habit-forming. 

Since am not in a position to practice herbal medicine, I am only relating my own experience, not recommending it to you. If interested, I suggest you check with your own health care professionals to see if it's OK to experiment with yourself.


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Page last updated Nov 13, 2013

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