Friday, August 26, 2011

Can Eating Wheat Affect Mental Health and Carrot Jam

Carrot Jam
Food Diary (August 25, 2011)
Breakfast: Rolled oats with nectarine, coconut, flax seeds and sunflower seeds
Lunch: Lutefisk in tomato sauce with pasta
Dinner: Muesli, sourdough toast with carrot jam
Baking/sweets: Carrot Jam

Carrot jam is not something I heard of previously. You have jam made from pretty much any fruit, some vegetables and even meat like bacon. Since I had plenty of carrots in the refrigerator I gave it a try and managed to find some recipes on the internet. It started with a good disaster, instead of jam I ended up with ‘carrot candy’ – bits of dried carrot coated with candy. It was really delicious to eat, though it was not what I was looking for. I managed to successfully rescue the failed carrot jam and ended up with a jam. It was a happy ending, just like it happens in most movies. Sorry about the quality of the picture. The recipe is available here.

Lutefisk in tomato sauce with pasta

Today's Favourite Photo
Source: Ang Sarap
Steak and Cheese Pie

Today’s Favourite Blog
Source: Care2
A rather shocking article titled “Can Eating Wheat Affect Mental Health?”

Whole grains are usually associated with good health. However there is a large body of evidence indicating that whole grains, and whole wheat in particular (including organic), can contribute to significant physical and mental health problems.

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease (CD) is well known. However excessive wheat consumption can be associated with depression and Alzheimer’s disease, just to name a few. 

Wheat contains high amounts of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), a glycoprotein classified as a lectin. Studies indicate that WGA has a number of health-harming characteristics and activities including Pro-inflammatory, Neurotoxicity, Immunotoxicity etc. I don’t know what these words mean but it does not sound like something I was to have! 

Most people fail to realize that your gut is quite literally your second brain, and actually has the ability to significantly influence your mind, mood and behavior. WGA can damage both your gut and your brain in various ways. Your gut and your brain are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected and work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on our mental health, and vice versa. No wonder when we are hungry we don’t think well!

A number of studies indicate that wheat can have a detrimental effect, promoting depression and even more serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia. Increased immune sensitivity to gluten has also been reported in schizophrenic patients, and the connection between gluten intolerance and schizophrenia has been established for over 20 years.

One mechanism that can help explain the mysterious connection between wheat and mental health problems is the fact that wheat inhibits production of serotonin. Therefore, it actually makes perfect sense to nourish your gut flora with probiotic foods and supplements to maintain optimal serotonin function, as it can have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behavior.

Note that this is a short summary only. The source article is quite long and detailed, and I have excluded many important details. There were too many big words that I did not understand! What is my conclusion from reading this? The importance of maintaining a balanced diet, not too much grains, not too much of anything. So we can still have cakes and cookies, though not everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am not qualified to give you advice, I am not even qualified to give myself advice. This article is a summary of what I read and is not intended to be advice.

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  1. Another fascinating bit of info from you. Interesting article.

  2. I tried a really delicious carrot and cardamom jam once, it was gorgeous!

  3. With the success of Dorie Greenspan's onion marmalade, your carrot jam looks rather tasty!

  4. Lovely color the jam!
    I get grumpy when I'm hungry ... now I know why... gotta feed the brain and get the endorphins going. I still believe everything in moderation is good.

  5. Never heard the information about wheat before...or about carrot jam. Interesting!

  6. Steak and cheese pie?? Something for me!

  7. The jam looks absolutely delicious!

    I'm not sure that I fully believe the whole gluten leads to mental illness thing, but there's definitely a case to be made for mixing up the whole grains that you eat! Especially adding in gluten-free ones like quinoa, spelt, millet, etc.!

  8. The article about the wheat is really scary! I should stop eating the baguette so often (I already it much less pasta since I bought a rice cooker...).
    Your jam looks very seducing, I think you pictured the "yumminess" very well. I can't believe it looks delicious to me, but even though I love carrots and carrot cakes, I would never attempt a carrot jam (now I know I will one day!). Thanks for the excellent idea!
    (I will not talk about how much I suffer when I see the mysterious lutefisk and can't get it! I think I have to go to Sweden for a weekend...).

  9. this is so interesting... wheat affecting mental health? i don't eat wheat because i am gluten intolerant, but this gives me more reason to NOT like wheat!

  10. Carrot jam just sounds fun to make...I could get behind some carrot candy as well...ehehehehe.

  11. Carrot jam? I'm so intrigued! And how good is Muesli? Have a good weekend

  12. Jam looks Delicious !!!! Beautiful color.
    A very interesting article, worth reading.
    Nice post. I am new to your space and I like it.

  13. Carrot jam!!! Never seen or heard of it before but I can totally imagine how great it can be! Trying to think what is the best way to eat with... Thanks for the info - you always get a lot of useful knowledge to share with us, and thank you!

  14. Maris: interesting indeed

    Lorraine: carrot and cardamom jam sounds really interesting, I will try that next time.

    yummychunklet: onion marmalade sounds interesting too

    ping: I get grumpy too when I am hungry and also when I haven’t had coffee. Now we know why, mystery solved:)

    Baking Serendipity: it was new for me too

    Marina: if you haven’t tried it, it is absolutely delicious

    Joanne: quinoa etc look like the healthy ones.

    Sissi: I felt uncomfortable after I read it and now I am conscious when I eat bread (but that does not stop me!). Maybe the article was a bit harsher than it really is. The picture of the jam is not that great, the jam looks really great in reality, really nice color. Lutefisk – it looks like a trip to Sweden or Norway will be necessary. Though it will be difficult or almost impossible to find a restaurant that sells it. A friend visited and we wanted to try Swedish food in the evening. We went to so many restaurants but could not find any Swedish food. I know one restaurant that specializes in Swedish food but it is a little bit far. Its really difficult to find Swedish food in the evenings, for lunch its easier. In other countries you find the local cuisine really easily, and its everywhere. Not in Sweden.

    Junia: it is interesting, and since I eat wheat (I am eating bread as I write this) it really made me think! I am glad that I can still think, it hasn’t affected me mentally yet

    Briarrose: I got behind quite a bit myself:)

    Erica: muesli rocks:)

    Reem: welcome to my blog, and glad you liked it

    Nami: you can eat it like regular jam, on toast etc. I used less sugar so it wasn’t as sweet as regular jam, but still sweet.

  15. Your carrot jam sounds so lovely...I can't wait to try it! Very informative post!

  16. Wow, interesting article. Hope there are further studies...till then, I'll still eat my grains ;)

  17. What a fascinating article. I would like to learn more as well. Your carrot jam looks and sounds so delicious.

  18. Thank you for the touristic tips! I should maybe consider buying it and bringing back! (On the other hand I still have time to take a decision...)

  19. The jam looks delicious and the info is definitely interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Interesting type of Jam, never had tried carrot jams