Boiled Dill (Anethum graveolens) seeds for Anxiety

Dill (Anethum graveolens) seeds are a rich source of phytochemicals that include polyphenols and an essential oil containing limonene, ketone and carvone. Dill seeds may have beneficial effects against child birth induced anxiety and may also shorten delivery time. One suggestion is that the reduction in anxiety may cause the child birth to proceed in a more timely manner because of the reduction in anxiety. In one study pregnant women were administered 10 grams of boiled dill seeds (boiled for 10 minutes and then sieved) just prior to delivery. Although there was no difference in the anxiety scores of the women prior to delivery, following delivery and administration of the dill seeds, the treatment group had significantly lower anxiety scores compared to the control group who received no dill seeds. Further, the delivery times for the dill seed group were significantly reduced compared to controls. Therefore boiled dill seeds could be a useful nutritional strategy to facilitate a less anxious and shorter delivery. 

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Hekmatzadeh, S. F., Bazarganipour, F., Allan, H., Aramesh, S. and Mohammadi, J. 2020. Effects of Boiled Dill Seed on Anxiety During Labor: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine. 26(2): 100-105
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Catechins for Anxiety and Depression

Catechins are a group of phytochemicals  that belong to the flavonoid class. Chemically catechins are flavan-3-ols. Catechins are found in plant foods and good sources include apples and tea. Catechins may have beneficial effects against mood disorders and may be a useful treatment for anxiety and depression. Animal models have investigated the effects of catechins on anxious and depressive behaviour and found there to be beneficial effects. For example, in one study researchers administered catechins to rats that had been stressed by the injection of corticosterone (the main animal stress hormone). The researchers reported that the rats that had been administered catechins were significantly protected from the negative effects of the corticosterone, and this included a reduction in anxious and depressive behaviour. Catechins may protect from mood disorders due to the antioxidant effects in the brain that limits cellular damage to neurones in the hippocampus, or through control of cell signalling in neurones. 

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Lee, B., Sur, B., Kwon, S., Yeom, M., Shim, I., Lee, H. and Hahm, D. H. 2013. Chronic administration of catechin decreases depression and anxiety-like behaviors in a rat model using chronic corticosterone injections. Biomolecules and Therapeutics. 21(4): 313-322
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Essential Fatty Acids and The Brain

In human nutrition there are two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA; C18:2, n-6), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3 n-3). These fatty acids are essential because without them the cells cannot function, and inevitably a deficiency causes disease followed by death. These two fatty acids are converted into other fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; C20:5, n-3), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22:6, n-3) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA; C18:3, n-6) which have important cellular functions. In particular, these fatty acids can affect membrane fluidity, membrane enzyme activities and eicosanoid synthesis, which can significantly influence the function of the brain. The high fat content of the brain is due to the presence of a relatively large proportion of these fatty acids, suggesting they are required in high amounts for normal mental function. Deficiencies of the essential fats are known to be associated with poor mood, low mental function, and various severities of dementia and cognitive impairment. 

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Youdim, K. A., Martin, A. and Joseph, J. A. 2000. Essential fatty acids and the brain: possible health implications. International journal of developmental neuroscience. 18(4-5): 383-399
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The Vitamin C Content of Apples

Apples are a good source of vitamin C and provide significant antiscorbutic activity which may also relate to the flavonoids they contain. It has been speculated that the antioxidants accumulate in the skin to protect the ripening fruit from light and oxidative stress. In a similar manner the outer layer of pulp contains higher levels of vitamin C compared to the inner core. Smaller varieties may therefore contain a higher relative amount of vitamin C because they have a skin to pulp ratio that favours skin. Variations in the vitamin C content of apples has been shown to occur between varieties. It has also been shown that location of the tree, environmental conditions and a myriad of growing factors affects the vitamin C content of the apple. Further, the storage and handling of the fruit post-harvest also plays a significant role in the amount of vitamin C present in any given apple. For example storage for 6 days above room temperature caused a significant reduction in vitamin C content, whilst storage at lower temperatures did not. 

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Murneek, A. E., Maharg, L. G. and Wittwer, S. H. 1954. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of tomatoes and apples. University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. Research Bulletin 568
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The Vitamin C Content of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants. One of the most researched antioxidants in tomatoes is the red pigment lycopene, a carotenoid that has been shown to be beneficial to prostate health. However, tomatoes are also a rich source of vitamin C, which can contribute significantly to the overall antioxidant effects. The vitamin C content of tomatoes is quite variable, and this variability depends to a large extent on the genetics of the fruit as well as the conditions under which the tomato was grown. Total vitamin C content of a tomato ranges from about 7 to over 40 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh fruit. Environmental factors that can alter the vitamin C content of the growing and ripening fruit include light and temperature. Generally greenhouse grown tomatoes and larger tomatoes are lower in vitamin C compared to field grown smaller varieties. The more light that a tomato is exposed to during ripening, the higher the vitamin C content becomes, presumably because the antioxidants protect the fruit from damage by light.  

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Murneek, A. E., Maharg, L. G. and Wittwer, S. H. 1954. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of tomatoes and apples. University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. Research Bulletin 568
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The Vitamin C and Polyphenol Content of Peaches

Fruit is an excellent source of nutrients, particularly antioxidants. Peaches contain high amounts of vitamin C and polyphenols, both of which have been shown to have antioxidant effects in humans and animals. Studies have investigated the vitamin C and polyphenol content of different varieties of peaches, and found that the blood-flesh varieties are higher in anthocyanins, which is not surprising as anthocyanins often give fruits their red colours. In addition, blood-flesh peaches were also higher in hydroxycinnamic acids and flavonols. For example, the chlorogenic acid (a hydroxycinnamic acid) content was 4 times higher in blood-flesh peaches compared to white-flesh peaches and quercetin glycosides (a flavonol) was 20–40 times higher. The vitamin C content of blood-flesh peaches was 40 % higher compared to white-flesh peaches. However, the catechin content of white-flesh peaches was double that of blood-flesh peaches. The total antioxidant content was higher in the blood-flesh peaches, but sugar contents were similar. 

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Aubert, C. and Chalot, G. 2020. Physicochemical characteristics, vitamin C, and polyphenolic composition of four European commercial blood-flesh peach cultivars (Prunus persica L. Batsch). Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 86: 103337
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Zinc Deficiency: Anxiety?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is required for a number of functions in humans and animals. Evidence suggests that zinc has a significant effect in the brain and may be required for normal mental function. Researchers have assessed the role of zinc deficient states on mental health using animal models. In one such study, rats were fed a zinc deficient diet for 2 weeks and this caused serum zinc concentrations to fall to levels half of control rats fed a normal diet. At the same time the zinc deficient rats had significant elevations in corticosterone levels. When the rats were exposed to experimental stress, the zinc deficient rats showed significantly higher levels of anxious behaviour. Therefore a zinc deficient state may cause an increase in anxiety due to increases in levels of stress hormones. The authors also noted that levels of intracellular calcium in the hippocampus increased in the zinc deficient rats suggesting that intracellular signalling may have been altered in the neurones in the brain as a result of the zinc deficiency. 

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Takeda, A., Tamano, H., Kan, F., Itoh, H. and Oku, N. 2007. Anxiety-like behavior of young rats after 2-week zinc deprivation. Behavioural Brain Research. 177(1): 1-6
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Polyphenols Protect from Neuroinflammation

Polyphenols are a large group of phytochemicals that may have biological effects in animals and plants. One group of polyphenols, the flavonoids, have been extensively investigated for their mood elevating effects. There are substantial structural differences between the various polyphenol compounds which may explain their differing and overlapping effects in experiments. Certainly some polyphenols appear to be more effective at modulating the inflammatory response compared to others. Apigenin is a polyphenol belonging to the flavonoid group (it is actually a flavone) which may have significant effects at protecting from neuroinflammation. Evidence suggested that apigenin is able to activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) in the brain, and this may in turn decrease the inflammatory response through a modulation of cytokine activity. Chronic neuroinflammation may be a cause of mental health problems including anxiety and depression, and a diet high in apigenin and other polyphenols may be protective of the development of these conditions. 

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González, R., Ballester, I., López-Posadas, R., Suárez, M. D., Zarzuelo, A., Martinez-Augustin, O. and Medina, F. S. D. 2011. Effects of flavonoids and other polyphenols on inflammation. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 51(4): 331-362
Li, R., Wang, X., Qin, T., Qu, R. and Ma, S. 2016. Apigenin ameliorates chronic mild stress-induced depressive behavior by inhibiting interleukin-1β production and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in the rat brain. Behavioural Brain Research. 296: 318-325
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Resveratrol as a PPAR Ligand: Mood Stabiliser

Resveratrol is a polyphenol present in the skin of red grapes. As a result one of the best dietary sources of resveratrol is red wine. Other food sources of resveratrol include pomegranate and nuts. Resveratrol has been evidenced to exert beneficial effects on mental health. This may relate to the evidence that shows that resveratrol is able to reduce neuronal inflammation in the hippocampus, and this may have a beneficial effect on mood. In particular, resveratrol has been shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. The mechanism for this is not fully understood, but evidence suggests that resveratrol can activate PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor) in brain tissue. The stimulation of PPAR by resveratrol may activate the PPAR-steroidal axis, which results in the release of allopregnanolone into the brain, and this provides significant anti-inflammatory effects within brain tissue. As inflammation is associated with low mood, resveratrol may be highly protective in this regard. 

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Matrisciano, F. and Pinna, G. 2020. PPAR and functional foods: Rationale for natural neurosteroid-based interventions for postpartum depression. Neurobiology of Stress. 12: 100222
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The PPA Axis and Neuroinflammation: Polyphenols

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) is a ligand activated transcription factor present in brain (and other) tissue. The PPAR can modulate neuroinflammation by regulation of the steroid hormone allopregnanolone, which can have a subsequent and significant anti-inflammatory effect. The anti-inflammatory effects of the PPAR-steroidal axis may play a significant role in the maintenance of mental health, and disruption of this neuromodulation may cause a deterioration in mood. Both PPAR-α and PPAR-γ are distributed in mammalian brain tissue and could be potential targets for mood elevating foods. In this regard it is thought that a number of functional foods may potentially target the PPAR-steroidal axis and this may confer protection from neuroinflammation. One potentially large group of phytochemicals that may interact with the PPAR-steroidal axid are the polyphenols. In this group, flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids and hydroxybenzoic acids may all elevate mood in this manner. 

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RdB

Matrisciano, F. and Pinna, G. 2020. PPAR and functional foods: Rationale for natural neurosteroid-based interventions for postpartum depression. Neurobiology of Stress. 12: 100222
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