Anita Kemp Ph.D. Blog

Ideas for a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Evidence Based Nutritional Strategies for the Aging Brain

I recently had a training from Michael Lara MD on nutrition and healthy brain. Here are a few tidbits from that training.

The brain ages due to chronic stress which up regulates inflammation, increases cortisol, increases free radicals and synaptic glutamate. Depression also increases inflammation. So both stress and depression are killers for the brain. The brain under these stresses has reduction of the hippocampus with the consequence of short-term memory reduction among other changes.

Chronic low level inflammation is related to dementia but also cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.

Dr. Lara recommends anti-inflammatory nutrients of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and polyphenols (green tea, berries, turmeric, cinnamon, green vegetables). The Mediterranean Diet is also anti-inflammatory. He shares a recipe for Smart Coffee which has 1/2 TB of coconut oil and cinnamon. Also noted were intermittent fasting (12 hours without food on 3 non-consecutive days), aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Mainly good healthy habits for food and exercise should keep our brains in shape.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Depression, health | , , | Leave a comment

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

This information is extracted from a new book by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, ALTERED TRAITS: SCIENCE REVEALS HOW MEDITATION CHANGES YOUR MIND, BRAIN AND BODY.  It is fairly dense reading about the controlled scientific studies done to date. The importance of these new studies is that they are demonstrating changes in the brain through fMRIs that with continued meditation become traits or permanent changes in the brain.

These authors look at studies that used Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Compassion practice and different types of meditation practices.

Studies are showing certain areas of the brain enlarge. These areas help attention and self-regulation. It is less likely to become hijacked by emotions and to fall into anxiety or depression or impulsive action. The amygdala has reduction in activity which leads to a calmer state of being.

Other benefits: age-related brain atrophy slowed, reduction in shortening of telomerase, reduction in pain.




January 20, 2018 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being, meditation | , , | Leave a comment

Fight Depression with Diet, Exercise and Meditation

If you are contemplating taking antidepressants or are already on antidepressants and they are not working, here is the information you need now. Kelly Brogan MD had written a book that summarizes what we know about depression and antidepressants and then presents her plan to help women especially to get healthy without drugs. The book is A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. She reviews the research that basically says antidepressants are a placebo but have negative side effects that are not worth the minimal help. Healthy diet, exercise and meditation are the answer. Her diet is very restrictive and you have to be very motivated to follow this. For 30 days, she asks you to be off gluten, dairy, sugar, potatoes, rice, soy and legumes. And only drink water. No other beverages. Wow! However this is for 30 days and then you add back foods to see if they work for you or not. Even if you don’t want to do this sort of eating, please read the book. The information is invaluable.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | , , | Leave a comment


Andrew Weil MD ha summarized new research about inflammation and depression. The marker of inflammatory disease is  C-reactive protein and things like rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease. In one study, it was found that C-reactive protein- is 46% higher in those who have depression compared with those who do not. When individuals are given medication to reduce inflammation, depression is reduced.  Of course, this is still in the investigatory stages and you don’t want to start taking anti inflammatory drugs at this point for depression. Dr. Weil recommends an anti-inflammatory diet which is all the good stuff – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds along with exercise.  He also suggested adding turmeric because it is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is always worth looking at diet and exercise if you have depression. It can make the difference.

May 14, 2017 Posted by | Depression, health | | Leave a comment

Infection and Depression

There is a lot of new information about all the problems that chronic inflammation causes. One of the latest is that it can cause depression. Check out the article “Can Infection Give You the Blues” in Scientific American Mind May/June 2015. The general thesis is that stress can activate the immune system to be always on and this then causes inflammation. Inflammation causes the felling of depression. When you first get sick, you actually have symptoms like depression. You have low motivation, feel tired, lose your appetite, have trouble concentrating and tend to want to be by yourself. If this illness continues in the form of inflammation, then actual depression can set in. The usual psychological treatments are still good. And new treatments are being added. The Scientific American Mind article notes that diet and anti-inflammatory medications may be of help.

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Depression | Leave a comment

Gut Bacteria and Depression

Did you know that gut bacteria (of which there are approximately 100 trillion in your gut now) produce 95% of the body’s serotonin and the reduction of this chemical is a major factor in depression? The bacteria also produce and respond to other significant mood chemicals – GABA, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin. Not only are the bacteria related to mood of depression but also anxiety. New research is changing the gut bacteria in mice and seeing shifts in their behavior which seems to be related to anxiety and depression.  Different bacteria create different mood states.

Other research is suggesting that leaky gut is related to depression. Leaky gut is related to regular use of antibiotics and pain killers, psychological stress, inflammatory disorders and other conditions. What does all this mean? Again it is found that there is a mind/body not a separate mind and a separate body. Taking good care of yourself physically yields benefits in terms of healthy emotions.

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Depression | Leave a comment

We are meant to be happy!

The article title is a statement from George Pratt and Peter Lambrou’s new book Code to Joy: the Four-Step Solution to Unlocking Your Natural State of Happiness. These are two California psychologists who have been applying acupressure techniques to emotional health for many years. In this book, they have digested it down to an easy formula that is very self-help. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity. This is powerful. They do cite some research on energy psychology (acupressure) for the more sceptical. The Code to Joy has 4 steps: identifying your self-limiting beliefs, rebalancing your energy system, releasing negative beliefs and installing new empowering beliefs and then anchoring them in for permanence. Take a look at a new trend in psychology that is based on the Chinese traditional Medicine System.

August 19, 2012 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | Leave a comment

Antidepressants and Women

Like so many other medications, the studies have focused on men and not women. The same is true for antidepressants. Studies did not like to use women because the hormonal cycles affect moods and would be difficult to control. Studies are showing that the SSRI antidepressants work best in the presence of estrogen. Women will do better on these medications than men BUT not after menopause. Postmenopausal women will do better on a ntoher kind of antidepressant – ones that target norepinephrine and dopamine. I have seen quite a few women in my practice who are puzzled that their Prozac stopped working after years of being successful. Well, this may be the reason. Check out the article on this in Scientific American Mind May/June 2010.  There will be more to come on antidepressants and the placebo effect.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Depression, Emotional Well Being | Leave a comment