Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Beat Depression and Boost Mood With Food

While many doctors routinely prescribe antidepressants as first-line treatment depression, there are more effective natural food alternatives.
Eating the right foods could have the same effect as taking traditional antidepressant medications, researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found.

In a paper published in the Feb. 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry, a team of researchers report that omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, two naturally occurring substances in many foods, prevented the development of signs of depression in rats as effectively as antidepressant drugs.

In the study, researchers examined how omega-3 fatty acids and uridine affected the behavior of rats exposed to stress. Normally, rats quickly develop learned helplessness behavior -- believed to reflect despair in animal models -- when tested repeatedly under stressful conditions. Rats given injections of uridine or fed a diet enriched with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids showed fewer signs of despair than untreated rats.
Scientists placed rats in a tank of water where they had no choice but to swim. As time passed, the rats realized swimming was useless and began to float -- a sign of surrender to depression. Yet when given an antidepressant drug, the rats resumed swimming.

When the rats were given combined doses of omega-3 fatty acids and uridine instead of antidepressants, similar behavior occurred -- lending evidence these natural components are equally effective as drugs.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, and most abundantly in oily species like salmon and tuna. Walnuts, molasses and sugar beets are also foods high in these elements.

Biological Psychiatry February 15, 2005;57(4):343-350

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