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Whole Grain Benefits

8 Foods That May Cause Depression



Fast foods, alcohol, energy drinks, and certain other foods and drinks can make depression symptoms worse.

Talk therapy and medication are the two primary treatment options for people with depression. But self-care measures can also be of great benefit. While this includes sleeping well, exercising regularly, and practicing meditation, there is one other element that you may not have considered: diet.

When you’re suffering from depressive symptoms like sadness, overwhelming emotions, or lack of energy, you sometimes see food as a pick-me-up – maybe a bag of crisps for comfort or a sugary snack to boost your energy quickly.

However, there is a lot of scientific research that confirms the link between nutritional quality and depression. While some foods can relieve symptoms, others can make them worse. So what are the main culprits to avoid?

Fast food is cheap, practical and (mostly) tastes good. However, researchers believe there is a link between depression and inflammation in the body, and inflammation is made worse by ingredients that are often found in large amounts in fast food dishes, such as artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar.

One large study found that people who regularly eat fast foods were 40% more likely to develop depression, and researchers suggest that the high levels of trans fats in fast food products were a major contributing factor. Meanwhile, other researchers found that people who eat fast food frequently were less resilient to depressive symptoms.

What should you try instead?

When turning to fast food restaurants for convenience and cheaper prices, try to choose a healthier choice on the menu whenever possible, such as: B. a salad and wrap instead of burger and fries.

Many people enjoy a glass or two of wine to lift their spirits, and it’s hardly surprising – alcohol promotes the release of serotonin (aka the “happy chemical”) in our brains.

However, in people with depression, consuming alcohol could have the opposite effect, as studies suggest that higher consumption can lead to increased symptoms. This is sometimes called an “alcohol-induced depressive disorder,” which occurs only shortly after drinking alcohol or during withdrawal.

As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveals, alcohol affects various pathways in the brain, which in turn affect mood and behavior.

In addition, drinking alcohol can make antidepressants less effective.

What should you try instead?

Consider exploring non-alcoholic options like mocktails or 0% beer, which will allow you to enjoy the taste with no alcohol content.

Regardless of what some diet plans suggest, there is generally nothing wrong with eating grains like rice and wheat. However, during the process of refining them (e.g. turning brown rice into white rice), much of their beneficial nutrients are lost.

A lot of research supports the link between unrefined grains and depression. For example, a study in post-menopausal women showed that those who ate refined grains were at higher risk of developing new depression. Meanwhile, researchers who analyzed the diets of over 1,600 adults found that those who ate unrefined grains were at lower risk for depressive symptoms.

What should you try instead?

Whole grains offer both flavor and vitamins, so consider eating brown rice or whole grain or whole grain breads instead of the white ones. You can also try adding other grains to your diet like buckwheat or bulgur.

We have long been warned about the dangers of consuming too much salt, particularly its negative effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. But heart disease is not just physical. It’s also linked to a greater risk of mental health problems.

But salt can affect the brain not only through the heart. Human and animal studies have found links between high salt intake and increased inflammation in the body. Animal studies have also shown the ingredient’s negative effects on the gut microbiome and blood flow to the brain. All of these effects can contribute to depression and impaired cognitive function.

What should you try instead?

Salt is necessary for our body to function properly and to support everything from muscle function to nerve transmission. This means you don’t want to cut it out completely. Instead, try to reduce your intake by not sprinkling an extra teaspoon (or two) over meals.

Refined sugar negatively affects a number of physical health conditions, from diabetes and heart disease to obesity and some cancers. However, it has been shown that high intake also affects psychological well-being.

Some research suggests a possible link between sugar intake and depression, and researchers believe this ingredient has several long-term negative effects on the body that promote this compound.

These include:

  • increased inflammation and hormone imbalance, both of which are related to mood
  • a potential impact on the growth and development of brain cells and proteins
  • Influence on neurotransmitters in the brain

After all, not so cute!

What should you try instead?

These sweet snacks and treats can be difficult to avoid altogether. So when shopping, consider looking for options that are lower in sugar to reduce your intake.

It can be helpful to read the ingredients list on the label. It’s ranked from highest to lowest amount, meaning it has most of the first ingredient, second most of the second ingredient, and so on. If a type of sugar is in the first three to four ingredients, the product is likely quite sugary.

If you’re trying to cut down on refined sugars, you might think that artificial sweeteners are a better option. However, research suggests that these can also contribute to a wide variety of health problems, including – you guessed it – depression.

Various studies have examined and uncovered a link between sweeteners in beverages and an increased risk of depression, with some highlighting that certain strains have greater effects.

For example, in one study, people who ate a diet high in aspartame experienced more depression and irritable moods. Researchers suggest that this could be because the ingredient affects the balance of chemicals in the brain (such as the “pleasure chemicals” serotonin and dopamine) and increases levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone.

What should you try instead?

It can be a good idea to cut back on artificial sweeteners or try other unrefined sugar alternatives like honey or stevia. But it’s important to remember that it’s still sugar, so it’s still best to consume it in moderation.

Energy drinks are another quick and easy pick-me-up, and many people sip one of them after a bad night’s sleep or a hard workout at the gym. However, due to their caffeine and sugar content, energy drinks have a significant impact on our physical health, which can also affect our mental state.

For example, in one study, people who didn’t normally drink energy drinks were asked to consume them regularly. All participants experienced a higher level of stress, while men in particular also had increased symptoms of depression.

Although studies have shown that drinking coffee can lower the risk of depression, too much caffeine can cause insomnia, which in turn can worsen symptoms of depression, according to some studies.

What should you try instead?

Try sipping natural, energizing drinks like green tea or nibbling on a few squares of dark chocolate.

Many grilled, picnic, and quick meals like sausages, ham slices, corned beef, and jerky are classified as processed meat. While they’re easy to make and easy to take with meals when you don’t feel like cooking, these ingredients have the potential to promote signs of depression.

Countless studies have found a significant association between eating red and processed meat and an increased risk of depression and its symptoms. As with fast food, scientists believe this is due to their levels of trans and saturated fat, which promote higher levels of inflammation in the body.

What should you try instead?

If you don’t want to go without meat in your sandwich entirely, grilled chicken or turkey are healthier. Other ingredients such as tuna, avocado or egg also make for hearty fillings.

If you have depression, you may find that changing your diet can help alleviate or improve symptoms to some extent. Results vary from person to person, however, and diet changes are usually not a substitute for traditional treatments.

If you find that diet changes are doing little or you have persistent and moderate to severe depression, you may need additional help. Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about devising a treatment plan, which may include medication and therapy.

There’s no denying that diet plays a role in treating depression, and keeping a food diary could help identify associations between certain ingredients and your symptoms. You may notice that they are worse the day after a drink with friends or after a full day filled with sweet treats.

In addition to food replacement, you should also consider other ingredients that may help improve symptoms and try to incorporate more of them into your meals if possible.

The Mediterranean diet, which is filled with foods like seafood, healthy fats, and legumes, is known for its various health benefits, including relieving signs of depression. This may be due to the large number of micronutrients known as polyphenols.

Eating foods high in omega-3s (such as oily fish, flax seeds, and nuts) can also be beneficial, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables. It is believed that drinking coffee in moderation can also be helpful.

If you’re on a tight budget, it’s good to know that canned and frozen foods, including canned tuna, water-wrapped salmon, and frozen fruits and vegetables, can also be nutritious options.

There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit more TLC whenever possible – and this approach is possibly one of the easiest (and tastiest) to experiment with.

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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