Topical Area: Energy and Macronutrient Metabolism
Objectives : The on-going Syrian War has affected Syrians’ mental health, causing anxiety, depression, stress, and mood disturbances. Barley β- glucan is a soluble fiber and its benefits for mental health have been reported in the literature. This study was designed to assess the possible therapeutic effects of β-glucan supplementation as a natural remedy for emotional disturbance control/prevention using a traditional Islamic homestyle meal, “Talbina”, a semi-solid meal made from ground whole grain, hulled barley (Hordeum vulgare).
Methods : A single-blind randomized crossover design was conducted in free-living, stressed Syrian refugees using barley flour (active, AC) for 28 days and rice flour (placebo, PL) for 14 days as part of a breakfast. Subjects (14 females and 9 males, mean age: 41±10 yrs) with normal-to-mild depression and anxiety scores were recruited from the Islamic Center of Detroit. More than 60% of the subjects self-rated their general health as good or very good. Only 4.3% reported poor mental health, and nearly 60 % of the subjects reported having at least one non-communicable disease. Arabic validated self-administered questionnaires: The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and The Profile of Mood States-short form (POMS-SF) were used to measure anxiety and depression states, stress, and mood, respectively. Body weight and height data were also collected.
Subjects without depression showed a reduction in body mass index (BMI) at the end of the AC phase compared to the PL phase while depressed subjects showed an increase in BMI. The difference between these groups was significant (-.5±.5 kg/m2 vs .2±.8, p=0.04). The results showed no differences in anxiety, depression, stress and mood scores between the AC and PL phases.
The findings of this study showed no significant improvement in emotional well-being, depression, or stress levels by eating Talbina. But the subjects with anxiety were benefited significantly by taking part in this study regardless of the key ingredients of their meals. These findings suggest that refugee communities need further social support. Future studies should be conducted with a higher dosage of β-glucan for a longer duration and with a larger sample size to examine the beneficial effects of β-glucan.
Funding Sources : The Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University and the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Umm Al-Qura University.
Wayne State University and Umm Al- Qura University