Antioxidants & Depression

Antioxidants & Depression
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Neither antioxidant or folic acid supplements seem to help with mood, but the consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and folate-rich beans and greens may lower the risk for depression.

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According to the latest from the CDC, the rates of all of our top ten killers have fallen or stabilized except for one: suicide. Accumulating evidence indicates that oxidative free radicals may play important roles in the development of various neuropsychiatric disorders, including major depression.

For example, in a study of nearly 300,000 Canadians, greater fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with lower odds of depression, psychological distress, self-reported mood and anxiety disorders and poor perceived mental health. They conclude that since a healthy diet comprised of a high intake of fruits and vegetables is rich in antioxidants, it may consequently dampen the detrimental effects of oxidative stress on mental health.

But that was just based on asking how many fruits and veggies people ate. If you measure the levels of carotenoid phytonutrients in nearly 2,000 people across the country, a higher total blood carotenoid level was associated with a lower likelihood of elevated depressive symptoms, and there appeared to be a dose-response relationship, meaning the higher the levels, the better people felt.

Lycopene, the red pigment predominantly found in tomatoes, but also present in watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya, is the most powerful antioxidant amongst the carotenoid family. In a test tube, it’s about 100 times more effective at quenching free radicals than vitamin E, for example.  

And in a study of about a thousand older men and women, those who ate the most tomato products had about half the odds of depression. The researchers conclude that a tomato-rich diet may have a beneficial effect on the prevention of depressive symptoms.

Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables has been found to lead to a lower risk of developing depression, but if it’s the antioxidants, can’t we just take an antioxidant pill? No; only food sources of antioxidants were protectively associated with depression. Not antioxidants from dietary supplements. Although plant foods and food-derived phytochemicals have been associated with health benefits, antioxidants from dietary supplements appear to be less beneficial, and may, in fact, be detrimental to health. This may indicate that the form and delivery of the antioxidants are important. Alternatively, the observed associations may be due not to antioxidants, but rather to other dietary factors, such as folate, which also occur in fruits, vegetables, and plant-rich diets.

In a study of thousands of middle-aged office workers, eating lots of processed food was found to be a risk factor for at least mild to moderate depression five years later, whereas a whole food pattern was found to be protective. Yes, it could be because of the high content of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables but could also be the folate in greens and beans, as some studies have suggested an increased risk of depression in folks who may not have been getting enough.

Low folate levels in the blood are associated with depression, but since most of the early studies were cross-sectional, meaning a snapshot in time, we didn’t know if the low folate led to depression, or the depression led to low folate. Maybe when you have the blues, you don’t want to eat the greens.

But since then, a number of cohort studies were published following people over time, and low dietary intake of folate may indeed be a risk factor for severe depression–as much as a threefold higher risk. Note this is dietary folate intake, not folic acid supplements, so they were actually eating healthy foods. If you give people folic acid pills they don’t seem to work. This may be because folate is found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, whereas folic acid is the oxidized synthetic compound used in food fortification and dietary supplements because it’s more shelf-stable, but it may have different effects on the body, as I previously explored.

These kinds of findings point to the importance of antioxidant food sources rather than dietary supplements. But there was an interesting study giving people high-dose vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. The vitamin C, but not placebo, group experienced a decrease in depression scores, and also greater FSI. What is FSI? FSI evidently stands for penile-vaginal intercourse, an acronym that makes no sense to me.

But evidently, high-dose vitamin C improves mood and intercourse frequency, but only in sexual partners who don’t live with one another. In the placebo group, those not living together had sex about once a week, and those living together a little higher, once every five days, but with no big change on vitamin C. But for those not living together on vitamin C, every other day! The differential effect for non-cohabitants suggests that the mechanism is not a peripheral one, meaning outside the brain, but a central one—some psychological change that motivates the person to venture forth to have intercourse. The mild antidepressant effect they found was unrelated to cohabitation or frequency, so it does not appear that the depression scores improved just because of the improved FSI.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to David via Flickr.

According to the latest from the CDC, the rates of all of our top ten killers have fallen or stabilized except for one: suicide. Accumulating evidence indicates that oxidative free radicals may play important roles in the development of various neuropsychiatric disorders, including major depression.

For example, in a study of nearly 300,000 Canadians, greater fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with lower odds of depression, psychological distress, self-reported mood and anxiety disorders and poor perceived mental health. They conclude that since a healthy diet comprised of a high intake of fruits and vegetables is rich in antioxidants, it may consequently dampen the detrimental effects of oxidative stress on mental health.

But that was just based on asking how many fruits and veggies people ate. If you measure the levels of carotenoid phytonutrients in nearly 2,000 people across the country, a higher total blood carotenoid level was associated with a lower likelihood of elevated depressive symptoms, and there appeared to be a dose-response relationship, meaning the higher the levels, the better people felt.

Lycopene, the red pigment predominantly found in tomatoes, but also present in watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya, is the most powerful antioxidant amongst the carotenoid family. In a test tube, it’s about 100 times more effective at quenching free radicals than vitamin E, for example.  

And in a study of about a thousand older men and women, those who ate the most tomato products had about half the odds of depression. The researchers conclude that a tomato-rich diet may have a beneficial effect on the prevention of depressive symptoms.

Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables has been found to lead to a lower risk of developing depression, but if it’s the antioxidants, can’t we just take an antioxidant pill? No; only food sources of antioxidants were protectively associated with depression. Not antioxidants from dietary supplements. Although plant foods and food-derived phytochemicals have been associated with health benefits, antioxidants from dietary supplements appear to be less beneficial, and may, in fact, be detrimental to health. This may indicate that the form and delivery of the antioxidants are important. Alternatively, the observed associations may be due not to antioxidants, but rather to other dietary factors, such as folate, which also occur in fruits, vegetables, and plant-rich diets.

In a study of thousands of middle-aged office workers, eating lots of processed food was found to be a risk factor for at least mild to moderate depression five years later, whereas a whole food pattern was found to be protective. Yes, it could be because of the high content of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables but could also be the folate in greens and beans, as some studies have suggested an increased risk of depression in folks who may not have been getting enough.

Low folate levels in the blood are associated with depression, but since most of the early studies were cross-sectional, meaning a snapshot in time, we didn’t know if the low folate led to depression, or the depression led to low folate. Maybe when you have the blues, you don’t want to eat the greens.

But since then, a number of cohort studies were published following people over time, and low dietary intake of folate may indeed be a risk factor for severe depression–as much as a threefold higher risk. Note this is dietary folate intake, not folic acid supplements, so they were actually eating healthy foods. If you give people folic acid pills they don’t seem to work. This may be because folate is found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, whereas folic acid is the oxidized synthetic compound used in food fortification and dietary supplements because it’s more shelf-stable, but it may have different effects on the body, as I previously explored.

These kinds of findings point to the importance of antioxidant food sources rather than dietary supplements. But there was an interesting study giving people high-dose vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. The vitamin C, but not placebo, group experienced a decrease in depression scores, and also greater FSI. What is FSI? FSI evidently stands for penile-vaginal intercourse, an acronym that makes no sense to me.

But evidently, high-dose vitamin C improves mood and intercourse frequency, but only in sexual partners who don’t live with one another. In the placebo group, those not living together had sex about once a week, and those living together a little higher, once every five days, but with no big change on vitamin C. But for those not living together on vitamin C, every other day! The differential effect for non-cohabitants suggests that the mechanism is not a peripheral one, meaning outside the brain, but a central one—some psychological change that motivates the person to venture forth to have intercourse. The mild antidepressant effect they found was unrelated to cohabitation or frequency, so it does not appear that the depression scores improved just because of the improved FSI.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to David via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

You may have noticed I’ve started doing more mental health videos. Please let me know if that’s something of continued interest. The last few I did were:

What’s the difference between folate and folic acid? I have a really old video on the subject (Can Folic Acid Be Harmful?). I’ll add it to my list of topics to revisit.

Here are some older mood ones as well, with more to come:

Anything else we can do to enhance our sexual health and attractiveness? See:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

113 responses to “Antioxidants & Depression

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  1. Be nice to see interventional trials.

    I am convinced nutrition has a lot to do with depression. It would be great if we could see how that compares to the meaninglessness of our large human systems. Our cities aren’t scaled to human beings, rather to automobiles. Children don’t drive. I am convinced that the dependent state of childhood and teenage years is entirely demeaning and leads to depression over time.

    I guess it’s hard to answer the questions of what causes depression. It is a complex problem caused by complex problems. I have lost too many friends and family to suicide.

    The causes of depression are complex, but I don’t believe our society is making Rational responses to combat it at all.




    3
    1. Personally, I’m not convinced that “depression” is a real illness, and I say that as someone who’s suffered from it immensely. I believe that what we call depression is actually a normal human response to many, many factors, including poor nutrition and other self-care habits, isolation and loneliness, not having meaningful work, and living in a world rife with chaos and cruelty, to name a few factors. Abuse and trauma play no small role, as well. I believe that there’s much individuals can do to feel better, to improve their lives, but I think it’s folly to ignore the broader societal factors that play a major role, and it’s also immensely unhelpful and I think completely dishonest to promote a view that individuals themselves are somehow flawed and “broken”. Make no mistake about it, the brains of depressed people are functioning differently, but there’s zero evidence, to my knowledge, to back up the view that this is what causes depression, rather than the different brain state being a result of the depression instead. The view that we can eradicate depression though pharmacological manipulation of the brain is, in my opinion, reflective of the arrogance and reductionism of our times. What likely started as a genuine attempt to help people is now simply big business, and it continues on despite its inefficacy and despite our knowledge that things are more complicated than we previously thought because it makes money.




      5
      1. Absolutely! That is what I always thought as well. The natural human response to all of this modern societal life is to feel overwhelmed, depressed, and confused. It is a constant struggle for everyone i have ever known to find joy, happiness, meaning or purpose in their life. I mean look at the self-help section of a book store… It is now normal to be depressed. It is in my opinion that the positive emotional needs of humanity are being completely ignored. I think that it is our current society that creates this depression but because we have not yet reached the summit of all that we can bear, it will continue on.




        3
      2. Kim, you are so right. Depression goes way beyond physiology – and yet it expresses itself through the body. You can see the power of our thoughts by looking at the posture of the body and the muscles in the face when we think sad thoughts – compared to the look and feel of the body and face when we think happy thoughts. Think of something you love and notice your posture and the smile in your face – including the twinkle in your eyes – then think of something you fear – the difference is dramatic.

        How I see the condition of depression is as an accumulation of sorrows. The good news is, those sorrows can be released. “All healing is essentially the release from fear.”

        This is what I do: I spend a little time in deep quiet, and ask to know the source of my “problem” (whatever it is at the time). A memory of the source of my sorrows surface so I can see them clearly and let go of them. How I let go of them is to notice the tensions/ pain/ discomfort in my body where I “feel” them, and then breathe deeply into those places until the tension relaxes. The body is the subconscious. It holds past trauma as tensions. We hold the breath when we are in trauma… we breathe fully and freely and deeply when we are relaxed. Our goal is to let the breath massage the tensions away. Some say “Spirit is the healer” and it’s true! The word Spirit means breath.

        I wish for you a complete recovery from “depression”. :)




        2
      3. I am afraid to shit on anti-depressants because they do help a lot of people.

        I don’t have depression, so I am not an authority on the subject.

        If what We suspect is true…that depression is a complex problem caused by complex problems that go way beyond our ability to understand, investigate, and reduce to a single culprit…

        Then that means that the only way to reduce depression is to do so through a dramatic restructuring of society. We would have to replace human value, community, and empathy as the purpose of our big human systems. That might be the only way we can leverage enough change so that our future generations won’t be as f-Ed up as we are.




        4
      4. I agree with everything you wrote, and I think some people’s temperaments are better adapted to living in the world we live in than others. Maybe the answer for some people is just to completely reject the lifestyle advocated by the dominant culture. Less isolation, less competitiveness, more generosity of spirit, more exercise, less TV, and more plants:)




        2
      5. I agree with what you are all saying. In our cultural American tradition, we try to find the one silver bullet that will stop depression. Who are the happiest and healthiest people in the world? People in the book Blue zones, or the book Healthy at 100. What do they do? Work outside in their gardens, with others in their small communities. Tell jokes, play music, help those who are less fortunate. Take care of their families. They’re almost universally poor but happy. No jails, mental hospitals, and almost no politics in their societies because people take care of others before it becomes really dangerous. Something to think about. Even Mediterraneans are more like that than we are.
        John S
        PDX OR




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      6. Kim, I agree with you on a lot of what you said, we have so many complications, drama, pressures and sorrows in our busy crowded lives that it’s no wonder we bomb out! The kind of issues we evolved to cope with no longer apply, and yet all our reflexes are in high gear all the time. Add to that our SAD diets and all the contaminants everywhere and we shouldn’t be surprised at the illnesses that are overwhelming us, mentally and physically! It may sound simplistic, but I really think the best medicine is to get back to a simpler, less hectic life, and remember where we came from, as we do with our diets. I have uncluttered and simplified my life, and it helps me so much to be grounded in nature on a daily basis! That may not be easy for some, and may not, apply to everyone, but I almost can’t see how it couldn’t, since we are of the earth as elemental beings, not of pavement and high rises!
        But there has always been mental illness…asylums have been around for ages. Though all of the above may contribute to our current issues and negatively affects us, I believe there is also a biological depression that does rear it’s ugly head, and may also be helped by some intervention. I suffered from black bouts of depression all of my adult years, starting right after the most joyous event in my entire life…the birth of my son. I hit like a brick and I was devastated…I had been so looking forward to being a mother as long as I could remember, and instead I could barely function. It lasted months and I fought it every day, and it eventually passed, but it would continue to rear it’s ugly head at intervals unrelated to my life situation. I had always had anxiety, as a child even, and for no apparent reason felt like an outsider in a very close family. I had a lot of issues I struggled with, and though I couldn’t take my own life because of those connections and the repercussions it would cause, not waking up would have been a blessing in my worst times. I would have periods of normalcy too, or relatively anyway, that kept me going, but it would never last long. In my late 40’s I felt like I really couldn’t go on, and finally saw a psychiatrist. I had avoided it because I knew what the “solution” was, and I resisted the drugs because of a very negative experience with one of the earlier tricyclic antidepressants, and even with those I steered clear for the longest time because I felt it was MY mind and I should be able to fix my own issues. I tried everything, trust me. Anyway, after talking to the Dr. for weeks first, he convinced me to just give the newer SSRI’s a 2 month trial and if at any time I felt shaky about it, I could just stop. Desperate, I gave in. About two weeks later, I woke up one morning and felt as if I emerged from a cave into the sunshine. I can’t even begin to explain the elation at having the huge weight lifted from my chest! I was blown away. I was very lucky too that it continued to work for me, I never had any problems with it. Since changing my diet and going WFPB, I weaned down to the lowest dose I can maintain on, and would absolutely LOVE to get off of the junk! I pray that some scientists not on pharmaceutical boards can afford to do nutritional research and pinpoint the biology of this horrible illness! NOBODY has a Celexa deficiency…but something is missing! I can’t really improve my diet, I exercise, tend to my spiritual side, and I have improved my health dramatically, but if I stop the stupid drug, my peaceful existence becomes a tortured hell again. It sucks.




        3
        1. I hope that you dont feel bad because you have to take “real medication”. SSRI`s given to the right patient can be very effective and in some cases lifesaving. Now you eat healthy, exercise and have lowered the dose. There is not much more you can do. Enjoy life and dont give it a thought that you have to take a small dose of this medication. Best wishes PSdoc.




          1
          1. Prozac saved my life and is still keeping me alive at this point. I may not ever be able to get off of it., but it keeps me able to be here for my schizophrenic daughter, my son died due to this evil disease, my daughter almost died. Their father was BP and committed suicide after they became I’ll. I have to live for my daughter, but many days it is still not my desire.




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        2. You might be interested in reading “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker and for information on dealing with the difficult process of getting off psychiatric drugs… Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal by Dr. Peter Breggin. Dr. Breggin’s website might be of interest as well. Good luck.




          0
        3. http://www.secondopinionnewsletter.com/Health-Alert-Archive/View-Archive/13435/Why-you-shouldnt-take-antidepressants-for-more-than-3-months.htm

          Fact one: Anti-depressive drugs have never been cleared by the FDA as being safe to use for more than three months. Even though doctors routinely give them to patients for life, they have never been deemed safe to use that way. And the longer the patient is on them, the more unbalanced his brain chemistry gets. For some people, this imbalance can be devastating.

          Fact two: Every antidepressant medication out there lists increased suicidal tendencies as one of its side effects. To date, 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal thoughts, and dozens of high profile shootings/killings are tied to psychiatric drug use. Despite that there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence.

          Fact three: At least 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by people taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

          Fact four: Between 2004 and 2012, there have been 14,773 reports to the FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects. These include 1,531 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide, 3,287 cases of mania, and 8,219 cases of aggression. Note: The FDA estimates that less than 1% of all serious events are ever reported to it, so the actual number of side effects occurring is most certainly higher.

          Fact five: Other than the short-term use in patients who are going through an acute depressive episode, these drugs are completely unnecessary. There are many natural therapies that work much better — and they have absolutely no risk.




          1
          1. Fred,
            That’s a lot of “facts” and no sources. Not that I don’t believe you, but we are on a site for Evidence-Based Nutrition. Obviously nearly everyone here is going to be skeptical of specific figures like these unless we can see the sources of the data. Among the statements needing sources:

            -the longer the patient is on them, the more unbalanced his brain chemistry gets
            -Every antidepressant medication out there lists increased suicidal tendencies as one of its side effects
            -22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal thoughts, and dozens of high profile shootings/killings are tied to psychiatric drug use
            -At least 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by people taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs
            -Between 2004 and 2012, there have been 14,773 reports to the FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects
            -1,531 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide, 3,287 cases of mania, and 8,219 cases of aggression
            -The FDA estimates that less than 1% of all serious events are ever reported to it
            -There are many natural therapies that work much better — and they have absolutely no risk

            I’ll give you the last one, but really you should list the alternative therapies and the studies that support them.




            0
      7. Thank you, everyone, for all your comments! I came back on here hesitantly, expecting at least some of you to knock down my views. It’s nice to see I’m not alone in my thinking!




        0
        1. I read your post and thought the same thing (though I was in agreement). I was delighted to see many people are seeing and feeling the same things – that there is something inherently wrong with what we are doing as a society. That acceptance as a culture will be the first step of a shift toward a happier people.




          0
      8. Kim, thanks for this post. I have actually felt the same thing as you for a long time now (and I use the word “felt” intentionally). As with many “diseases” we have in society, they are more a condition OF society/lifestyle, and not BECAUSE we are broken. Our bodies and minds are actually fantastic when we give them what they want. Personally, along with diet, I think living in a society where value is put on “things” rather than living beings, and where what you have means more than the meaningful relationships you have (with people, other animals, and planet), is a serious cause of the depression that is rife so many individuals’ lives.




        1
  2. Videos concerning depression & food I am very interested in. Medications (SSRI) can have devastating side effects. Finding a good therapist is hard. An going on therapy is time consuming. But everybody have to eat. It is the easiest way to benefit from the right plants. Thanks in advace for your work.




    0
  3. Yes, please continue. I think there’s obviously a psychological-physical connection. Just like we’re motivated to eat sweet things because we’re physically designed to want all the calories we can get even though we don’t realize that’s happening — we just think we like cake and want it — it seems perfectly logical that a body (and brain) that feels good because of high nutrient intake would have less depression necessarily. I think our brains know what’s going on in our bodies even though we aren’t aware of it. For instance, you might think less positively when you’re tired without perceiving a connection or maybe without even knowing you’re tired. I’m thinking that the pleasure principle applies not only to pleasure.




    1
    1. Stacey, hi. As I understand it, the urge behind the desire for sweets is actually for fresh, raw, organic fruit. Cake and other sugary foods may taste “sweet” but they are no substitute for fruit. Long ago, an expert on colon cleansing – Robert Gray – told me that foods act like drugs and that fruits that come from trees are literally “uppers”, uplifting. I have found this to be true. Of course, that includes olives and avocados. He advised starting your day with fruit from trees and to end the day with root veggies which are “sleepy” foods. I use these principles still, on a daily basis.




      1
  4. Yes to more mental health videos! Loved the one on whether or not antidepressants really work; it’s mind boggling how few people know (or want to know, seemingly) about this. Astounding how powerful the placebo effect is, and makes me remember to account for nocebo and placebo effects present in some of the population when they adopt and/or abandon a plant-based diet: some people are so convinced that they need animal protein that they “feel off” without it, and feel better upon reintroducing it. Of course, we can’t prove that’s what’s really going on, but I believe it to be the case for at least the overwhelming majority of – if not all – people that report this.




    1
  5. Curcumin found in turmeric is an interesting molecule. Data suggests that curcumin possesses MAO inhibiting properties, data suggests that curcumin has anti inflammatory properties, data suggests that curcumin can stimulate hippocampal neurogenesis, maybe modulation of serotonin and norepinephrine. Curcumin has shown antidepressant properties in animal models of depression. There has also been demonstrated efficacy in a human trial. Depression can be a very serious condition – and sometimes “real drugs” are necessary and lifesaving (sorry my plant strong friends! :-) ). I would always recommend that you talk to your doctor if you are depressed – and preferably one with an open mind. And no doubt that “real” antidepressants can have serious side effects – so maybe the solution is to eat healthy (mainly plant based) and then avoid depression in the first place.




    1
  6. From a personal standpoint I experienced an almost immediate & DRAMATIC change in mood swings when I started with a whole food concentrate. Two years later while I do still experience depression upon occasion, I would argue it is not on a clinical level. And I attribute that to the fact that the [phyto] chemicals in my brain have been substantially more balanced as a result of the change in my dietary intake….you are what you eat.




    1
    1. Here is the info we have on amla. Indian gooseberries (alma) may help with diabetes. Amla has been extensively studies and found protective for many disorders, perhaps due to it’s high antioxidant capacity? When I searched about cognitive decline only animal studies were available, which doesn’t tell us anything of value for how it works in humans. However, one review mentioned the phytochemicals in alma like quercetin, gallic acid, corilagin and ellagic acid, therefore some logic that this stuff could help reduce cognitive decline may be apparently, but of course we need a human trial to know for sure. I am not sure about amla and mood, however, it should be fine to take.




      1
      1. The only form of Amla that I can find locally is the candied form. Do you know if this form has approximately the same nutritional value as other forms. I suppose that fresh or frozen would be best, but I can’t find those locally.




        0
        1. Amla is available at health-food stores in capsule and tablet form. Amla powder can be bought online. Amma is one of the three ingredients in the Indian supplement known as triphala, which is said to be the world’s most commonly used herbal supplement for the last two millennia. Amla is also the major ingredient in the ayurvedic jam known as chyawanprash (It contains sugar and gee so may not be the best way to consume amla.)




          0
        2. I am not sure I don’t eat it. Not that I try to avoid it, I just find my local produce does the trick. I would think the candied stuff is not as potent as the fruit or powder, but I have no clue how the candy is prepared. Any Alma experts out there? Just watching the better breakfast video again it makes me want to try it based on the high antioxidant levels. Hope you find a solution. Let us know what you decide or more about other ingredients found in the candy.




          0
          1. Thanks for the feedback, Dr Gonzales. I’m assuming that the candied form of Amla is processed in a similar manner as candied ginger, but I’ll do some research and let you know if I find out anything.




            0
  7. Definitely interested in more videos about mental health, Thank you. I’d also like to know if raisins bring the same benefits as grapes.




    0
  8. As a person who manages depression with the NEWSTART method, folic acid certainly works for the anxiety side of depression, I have tested this theory and when off of the folic acid I am vulnerable but when on them I have more peace. Visit http://www.drnedley.com
    All the best and God bless




    0
  9. This is of great interest, Dr. M. After 9/11 I feel into a major depression, and have been on Paxil ever since, but no one ever suggested that the huge amount of sugar I was ingesting could have contributed to and continued to contribute to my depression. Now that I am on a plant-based, whole-foods, no-oil added diet, and have gotten rid of sugar in my diet, I have also been able to wean off the Paxil to an insignificant dose, almost down to zero.




    1
  10. Scratching my head here…chemically, folic acid is the protonated form of folate. Folic acid dissociates above its pKa to its form its respective anion (folate) and cation (hydrogen or hydronium ion). This should happen in stomach acid. Not following the argument about them being so different chemically, what am I missing?




    0
  11. Anyone know about the lycopene content of tomato paste? I’ve started eating it after hearing Dr. Greger mention its benefits, and I hate raw tomatoes. Still want to cash in on this lycopene benefit, but raw toms just taste like poison to me.




    0
    1. Just curious if you’ve ever tried vine ripened heirloom tomatoes? So many flavors, colors and textures! Commercial varieties suck, even the plants you often buy to plant in a garden. I live in Florida and they breed and grow for sturdiness, looks and shipping qualities, not flavor, and pick the tomatoes green to transport them, then gas them to color up before display. They may look pretty but they taste nasty!




      0
    1. Do a search on ascorbic acid bowel tolerance and you will get an idea of why some people take huge amounts of it in some situations.




      0
  12. And….

    http://www.ergo-log.com/maleorgasm.html

    “The researchers were interested to know if there was a relation between sexual activity and health, so they asked the men how many orgasms they had. The number mentioned is a good predictor of male sexual activity, previous research has shown.

    The researchers distinguished three levels: less than one orgasm a month was ‘low’, two orgasms a week or more was ‘high’, with a ‘medium’ category in between.

    On the basis of their results, the British scientists were able to calculate that an increase of 100 orgasms per year reduced the men’s chance of dying by 36 percent.”

    So take some vit C…buy a blowup doll…live forever? LOL.




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  13. I realize this is off topic, but what is the plant based consensus on using olive oil? I just read the book called Blue Zones Solution which is about areas of the world where people are the healthiest and live the longest. They do eat plant based, but in all zones, people use olive oil, and usually quite a bit of it, maybe up to a quarter cup a day. The claim was that it was a great health food and necessary to good health. What is your opinion of using olive oil? Is it as great as shown in this book? I am totally confused when it comes to olive oil, seeds and nuts. The book claims that olive oil can help to PREVENT heart disease. Thanks! Nancy




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  14. My wife and I have eaten a whole foods plant based diet for more than twenty years. We buy the majority of our fruits and vegetables at our local farmers market every week. The food we buy at the farmers market is not only exceptionally fresh (and organically grown) we have come to be friends with the farmers that we buy from. We have in other words become part of a community and we feel a strong connection with the farmers and the farms we even feel more connected to the climate which of course affects our farmers growing cycles. This connection is quite uplifting we find. Additionally, eating all the beautiful and colorful plants is uplifting in a way that eating a pill would not be. So many people think in terms of deprivation and what they might be giving up to switch to a plant based diet. We have found the opposite to be true – our lives have become far more enriched and fun. Hell, after writing this we’re going to indulge in FSI. We love your videos too!




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  15. This is way off topic… I have two children, one two years and the other four months. I want to raise them on a plant based diet. I’m looking for help on finding the most reliable resources for doing that. There seems to be some inaccurate information out there when doing a search on Google. Thanks for any help!




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    1. Hi Dr. P, Ginny Messina and Jack Norris are both registered dietitians and have information specific to vegan nutrition for kids. They are very balanced in their approach, cite their sources, and in my opinion are very reliable. They are also both very active in the comments sections on their sites and frequently respond to questions.

      General information on vegan kids from Messina and Norris:
      http://www.theveganrd.com/2012/11/a-healthy-start-for-vegan-children.html
      http://www.theveganrd.com/2009/10/vegan-issues-in-the-news-meeting-nutrient-needs-and-growth-of-vegan-kids.html
      http://veganhealth.org/articles/preginfchil

      This article by Dr. Mangell (also an RD) has lots of specific detail, including timelines for specific foods:
      http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php

      This is a collection of all Norris’ children related articles:
      http://jacknorrisrd.com/category/children/

      For practical ideas and meal planning, Susan Voisin of Fatfreevegan has a kid-friendly recipes section, and Dreena Burton of Plant Powered Kitchen has written articles on raising vegan kids she calls “weegans” – cute :) and just recently came out with a kid-centric book called “Plant Powered Families”.
      http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/feeding-vegan-children-a-plant-powered-series/
      http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2005/12/es-kid-friendly-recipes.html
      http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/plant-powered-families-cookbook/

      Hope that helps. :)




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  16. In a lecture, in a very popular local adult toy store, the acronym used was PIV.
    But now, seeing the very sensible (and printable, professional and publishable) guess about FSI below, I like “FSI” much better.




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  17. It’s not surprising that folic acid would NOT do much for people, and it can even harm those with a certain mutation that prevents efficient folate conversion (est. to be around 40% of the population) by competitively blocking the more biologically active folate found in greens and food vs the synthetic oxidized form.
    Why did you ignore your own source citing vitamin C improveing mood for the headline….”Neither antioxidant or folic acid supplements seem to help with mood”. Hey guess what?- it’s an antioxidant.




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  18. I wonder whether that vitamin C study gave standard deviations for FSI. It may have been confounded by a severe sex-addict in the intervention group…

    And how the heck did they know that FSI was actually PVI and not POI, VOI, PAI, OAI, VVI, PPI or whatever?




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  19. The FSI stuff at the end of this video is pretty sketchy. The abstract of that study says they had only 42 healthy young adults in the experiment group. Because the comparison noted was a subdivision of the experimental group (cohabiting vs non-cohabiting), they then had to have sub-divided the groups into cohabiting and non-cohabiting. If the sample was perfectly split, that’s only about 21 per group (less for the placebo). I’d be very interested to see how they justified their conclusions with such a small sample.

    Even if they had good power, that finding is pretty out there. I bet they just encountered a random error. (Their non-cohabitors who just happened to be eating the vitamins just happened to be highly sexually active.)




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  20. Almost all anti-depressants are linked to a lack or complete lack of libidito and can cause impotence in both men and women. This study reports sexual activity as a sign of health and happiness, specifically the number of orgasisms per week. On some level, doesn’t that mean anti-depressants make you sad and unwell? Almost all antidepressants can make you gain weight, even without eating more. Almost all antidepressants can cause suicide. I encourage you to visit this website: http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_niacin.html Antidepressants are not real medicine anymore than they are blunt force pills to convince you that there is something that can cross the blood–brain boundary via the stomach which was a real challenge in pharmacy. Not even sugar can do that and serotonin and dopamine are highly mirrored molecules (they appear to have a line of symmatry) If there was a molecule that could cross the blood brain boundary, it probably would rot the brain at many doses. Dr. Hoffer said the mentally ill had great genes. They are very smart, contributive, strong willed, pious people who are proud of all the right things and humble about what matters. One third of America has a mental illness and one quarter of it has one chronically. Dr. Greger produced a video on how stripping the B vitamins from Asian rice caused a disease epidemic there unheard of. There is a chance this disease epidemic is still going on. There is a chance Americans are not getting enough B12 or maybe even phosphorous, it is the sugar molecule of ATP, the whole way the body conveys energy. Niacin was Dr. Hoffer’s answer to Mental Illness, and he is a much beloved man despite his recent passing. Dr. Hoffer did a report that people with high cholesterol are at risk for mental illness including sczhiophrenia. Doesn’t it say something that people who eat plants more are healthier people? Doesn’t it say that anti-depressants might have once failed the FDA’s test that they are more effective than placebo? Because a sugar pill would give someone more of a feeling of well being than something that robes a human of their sexual function.




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  21. Love the mental health videos! Please keep them coming! I would be really interested in seeing you look at trauma outcomes (both physical and mental health) and nutrition.




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  22. I live with “generalized anxiety” and have since at least puberty. I have been taking an SSRI for over a decade. While I do have mild side-effects, the SSRI works very well to control my anxiety. Before going on medications, I tried many remedies including therapy, yoga & certain foods. I do believe, that for a variety of reasons, both nature and nurture, I have physiological difference in my brain. I have only recently switched to a plant based diet, but I am hoping that after a few months I can discuss the reduction of my dosage with my doctor.

    Meant to post that I am VERY interested in the links between diet and mental health.




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  23. Yes please continue with the mental health videos. My mental health is the reason I ventured forth on a plant based diet (& a better relationship with hubby ;) )




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  24. Last month, at a wilderness medicine conference, I heard a fascinating presentation by Dr. Perry F. Renshaw, psychiatrist and biophysicist. This article is a pretty good summary of his talk.

    http://www.catalystmagazine.net/last-month/item/2617-your-brain-on-altitude

    Given that vegetarians and vegans have lower levels of creatine, I’m curious to know if there are any high-quality studies that have looked at creatine supplementation, as a treatment for depression in vegetarians and vegans?




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  25. Would using papaya seeds break down bacteria in the colon and allow for the release of b12 made by bacteria? Thus giving vegans a way to get their b12 without supplements? Could any proteases reach that far and would this effect happen? Just a random thought.




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    1. Hi Arthur, thanks for your question. I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger, and perhaps I can help to answer your question. Vitamin B-12 is actually made by our colon bacteria. However, the absorption of vitamin B-12 occurs much earlier in our digestive tract, therefore disallowing us to absorb the vitamin B-12. My guess then, is that papaya seeds would not be broken down effectively and in time to be absorbed. Thanks for your question and curiosity. It is always greatly appreciated and commended.




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  26. This article has totally ignored the extensive science and many decades of work in orthomolecular medicine to heal chronic and frightening mental and physical illness by the two time nobel prize winner Dr Linus Pauling and also the extensive handson experience of Dr Abram Hoffer working with Niacin and Vitamin C and patients with mental illness. That is a real shame to ignore this for 1000s of people out suffering needlessly. Was able to brink my brother back from brink of suicide following my research into their work and following Dr Hoffers protocol of megadosing with Niacin and vitamins and a good diet and respect




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  27. Hi nutritionfacts.org, Dr Gregor,

    Is there any information or research on camu camu as a viable and safe source of vitamin C? I can’t find much information on this. Many Thanks, Joe




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  28. While camu camu seems to have some promise with Vitamin C components (see research below), remember it you are taking it as a supplement, such as a powder or capsule it is NOT a whole food. Since camu camu has a very sour flavor, the berries are not typically consumed as a whole food unless sweetener is added. More research is needed to determine if the supplemental forms will end up like the Vit C supplements that unfortunately did not have the benefits like the whole food such as oranges.
    http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1243-camu%20camu.aspx?activeingredientid=1243&activeingredientname=camu%20camu

    Antioxidant and associated capacities of Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia): a systematic review.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25275221




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  29. These are great videos! Thank you so much.

    It’s expensive watching them though, I have to keep throwing food out of my pantry as you say ‘It’s not healthy.’

    On a more serious note, I’m a psychologist and an increasing number of clients in my practice are Just Saying No to meds, like antidepressants, anxiolytics, and hypnotics. ADHD is the most frequent disorder I come across, and meds don’t work that well for a good percentage of those people, and I’d like to know what research says about alternative treatment beyond ‘Stay away from sugar and food dye.’

    I also see a lot of autism spectrum disorder individuals, including kids who are expelled from school because their behavior is so destructive and disruptive, and parents aren’t always willing to have them on meds like Abilify with all its attendant side effects. Plus I see some bipolar disorder patients too, and they have similar issues. So, my request is to broaden your mental health offerings. Thanks.




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  30. I have a friend who is concerned about passing his depression on to potential children. He wants to know if it’s genetic. And if he fixes it through dietary intervention, is there still something that would be passed on to future generations?




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    1. It depends. Depression can be genetic. It’s often genetic plus ‘learned behavior’ as to how one thinks about themselves and their lives, and what is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; i.e. ‘the power of positive thinking’) can be a quick and effective way to treat it. Healthy eating can also be helpful. As to future generations, it depends. Again, if there’s a lot of history of depression running in the family there’s a good chance of it having some genetic links. If it’s more situational (‘my mom got depressed when my dad died from cancer’ types of stuff) then genetics are likely not involved.




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  31. Hello Aliena,

    Thank you for your question. You are a kind and caring friend! I am a volunteer moderator who helps Dr. Greger answer questions on Nutrition Facts. I am a plant based dietitian nutritional therapist located in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was fortunate to attend internationally known Bastyr University, where I completed an integrative Masters’ degree program trained as a whole foods nutritionist, AND a mental health counselor. I did this because of the strong connection between what we eat (our food) and how that influences our mood (our mental health).

    While I agree with the comments posted by Dr. Cahn, I cannot weigh in on your friend’s mental health without much more information, in order to assess if (s)he experiences mood changes because of diet. There are many cases of people with whom I have worked where their diet most certainly has affected their mood, both positively and negatively. My suggestion would be for you to encourage your friend to improve their diet by switching to plant based eating, follow Dr. Gregers work on Nutrition Facts, exercise, begin a stress management (meditation) practice, and avoid alcohol and refined sugary foods (can be very depression inducing for most people).

    I hope this helps,
    Thanks for being part of our community!

    Warmly,
    Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN
    Plant Based Docs
    THE Mindful Nutritionist




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  32. Three part question. Thanks in advance :)

    The first part is: Is there such thing as an “antioxidant”? I’m not asking if the antioxidant thing is a myth, I’m asking whether an antioxidant is an actual physical thing, or if it just a property of various nutrients. For instance, is lycopene itself an antioxidant? Or does it contain antioxidants? Or is it just a carotene that has ‘antioxidant properties’? The reason I ask is for the sake of the second part of my question…

    The second part of my question is: Are antioxidants countable/measurable? How do scientists measure the antioxidants in a given food? When measuring/counting the lycopene content of tomatoes, for instance, are we effectively counting antioxidants as well? Or is the antioxidant content of a food more like a value instead of a number of things? I know there was an ORAC scale for a while, but I think I remember reading that it was done away with.

    Lastly: Do we have evidence that antioxidants make it through the digestive process and into the bloodstream in a form that they retain their antioxidant power? I know antioxidants have been shown effective in vitro. Is there any in vivo evidence?

    Thanks!




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    1. Hi, -I am a nutritionist and moderator in NF team. Well, first to answer all of your questions, you need to know what is an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells. In other words antioxidants are different molecules, the effect of avoiding oxidation in our bodies is the most important thing about antioxidants, because when there is oxidation our body is more likely to create free radicals wich they eventually can lead to CANCER (a damage in the DNA cell).
      The studies of antioxidants are shown in both in vitro and in vivo. I can’t find any other easiest way to explain it. Eat your antioxidants! :)




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      1. Hello!

        Thanks for the follow up. I understand what antioxidants do, what I’m more concerned with is what they physically are. Are they standalone molecules that can be counted? Could you identify one under a microscope and say “look, there’s an antioxidant! oh and there’s another!”. If so, there should be a way to count or measure them, theoretically. We should be able to say “a cup of blueberries has xx antioxidants, and a tomato has xx antioxidants.” Do we have such a method? Are are “antioxidants” just a placeholder term to make talking about a molecule ability to neutralize oxidation a bit easier?

        Take Lycopene for example. It is not typically defined as an antioxidant, but as a carotene. Is it also an antioxidant? Can we count the number of lycopene molecules in a tomato and conclude that tomatoes have x number of antioxidants?

        Essentially I’m just confused as to why there doesn’t seem to be a standard method of counting/measuring antioxidants. I know we can measure the level of antioxidant activity of a given food, but that’s like being able to measure the collective strength of an army without being able to count the number of soldiers.

        Thanks :)




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        1. Thank you for your question. Yes, the term antioxidant is a general term for a molecule that can inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. We can’t see them done the microscope per se but there are laboratory methods to quantify the amounts in different food types. In general, the darker the skin of a fruit and vegetable, the more antioxidants. If a fruit or vegetable discolours easily when cut then it does not as higher levels of antioxidants as the flesh is being oxidised (on exposure to oxygen in the atmosphere) and turning brown.
          This video may be of help to you
          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-reach-the-antioxidant-rda/




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          1. Hi Shireen,

            Thanks for the follow up! So I guess my next question is: if we have a method to quantify antioxidants, does this give us some kind of numerical value? I saw a video the other day in which Dr Greger explained that a tablespoon of Amla has “1,500 antioxidant units.” What exactly is an antioxidant “unit”?

            And my next next question is: do we have an idea of how this quantification of antioxidant capacity translates into free radical neutralization in the body? For instance, can we say that eating a fruit with x number of antioxidant units has the potential to neutralize x number of free radicals? Or has the potential to provide x amount of protection against oxidation?

            Btw, I realize you moderators have limited time and a lot of questions to sift through, so even if you could just point me in a good direction that would definitely suffice!

            Thanks :)




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  33. “Neither antioxidant or folic acid supplements seem to help with mood, but the consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and folate-rich beans and greens may lower the risk for depression”

    Please stop manipulating the words to suit a purpose, no matter how noble it may be. This can undermine the credibility of this website.

    The second part of the cited sentence, after the use of the frase “help with mood”, implies a direct and immediate connection: eat more vegetables and beans and your depression will instantly diminish or vanish.

    A depressed person won’t get any better by eating veggies or beans. Actually, you probably can’t make a depressed person to voluntary eat anything that won’t activate his/her dopaminergic system.

    Most of the information on this website is great and helpful to so many people. But sometimes one can sense the bias on the information presented. Lets be careful with that.




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    1. Rey,

      First of all, if you’re going to comment on these discussion boards, please do so like a respectful adult trying to have a reasonable conversation.

      Second, in the sentence you are referring to, he does not imply that that eating antioxidant rich food will alleviate symptoms of depression, let alone that depression will “vanish.” He only claims that such foods may lower risk of depression in the first place. Notice his use of the words “lower risk” (as in prevent) and “may” (as in possibly. as in maybe. as in not for sure. as in maybe for some and not for others).

      Third, his statement “implies” a connection between eating healthy antioxidant foods and a lowered risk for depression because the studies he cites in the video imply such a connection. Did you even watch the video? He is literally just passing forward the information and conclusions of a scientific study verbatim. Are you really going to direct your tantrum at Dr Greger for this? Do you think he should refrain from passing forward potentially promising information unless it is 100% definitive? It is Dr Greger’s responsibility to filter studies and spoon feed you only those with perfect, definitive information? Does he owe you something? Are you not grown up enough to simply review the information he’s passing forward and decide for yourself whether or not you’re going to consider it worthwhile and/or give it a shot?

      Fifth, how is it you know that eating a healthier diet won’t improve or prevent depressive symptoms? Have you conducted controlled studies? Have you reviewed all of the science being done on this? Do you have any credentials, expertise, or education in this field? Or are you just guessing because you think it sounds silly? Include some justifications in your claims, or please just keep them to yourself.

      No word “manipulation” has occurred here. There is also no “bias.” If you consider his website to be “great” and “helpful to so many people” maybe try being a little more respectful and a little less slanderous/juvenile. Also, watch the video next time. Throwing a tantrum over the wording of a single sentence is lazy and childish.

      -Scott




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      1. Yes Dr. Greger. Please continue posting information on mental health. I would be surprised if some degree of dysthymia isn’t within the top tier of disorders. When listening to your videos I believe that mental health is a form of physical health.




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  34. I’m going to give another reason. I am getting out of a major depressive episode from which I seriously contemplated suicide last year. People get depressed because their problems outweigh their resources. Think about it. If you have an issue but have the resources to deal with it, you don’t get depressed. However, if your problems grow bigger than what you can handle, depression occurs. If your problems grow exponentially larger than your ability to cope, suicide becomes an attractive option.

    How this ties into diet:
    I’m a highly educated and bright individual who has relied on my brain to function. I have prided myself on being able to process – in depth – large quantities of information. Over the past few years, I have felt like my ability to think and retain information has been declining. Both my job and my home life were extremely stressful and I do not have family support. Two years ago my cognitive (dis)ability was so hindered that I went to my PCP and endocrinologist (even retaining information was an issue and even staying engaged in conversations became monumental tasks). Both healthcare providers just told me that I was getting old (I was in my late 30’s).

    It wasn’t until recently when I realized that what I was putting into my body was killing my ability to think. Within 3 weeks on a plant-based diet, it was as if I reversed my brain to where it was about 4 years ago. Given that I can THINK and FOCUS again, I feel like I can better cope with the stresses of everyday life.




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