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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name



Nutrition and Food Science

First Advisor

Kai-Lin C. Jen


The global crisis in the Syrian Civil War has created an influx of refugees to the U.S. As a result of these hardship circumstances, many of this population are suffering from mental health dysfunctions, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances (DASM). Barley β- glucan is a soluble fiber and its health benefits for mental and physical health have been established in the literature. The primary objective of the present study was to assess the therapeutic effects and the feasibility of β-glucan supplementation using an Islamic traditional homestyle meal “Talbina”, a semi-solid meal made from ground whole grain, hulled barley (Hordeum vulgare), as a natural (non-pharmaceutical) and safe remedy for emotional disturbance control/prevention. The dose in the current study was 1 gram of β -glucan in 30-gram organic whole grain barley flour cooked in 240 ml water for 28 consecutive days as part of early morning breakfast. This study hypothesized that by supplementing participants with a β-glucan meal Talbina, participants would improve their emotional well-being and physical health, nutritional status, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). A single-blind crossover study design was conducted in 14 female and 9 male free-living, stressed Arab-Syrian refugees with normal to mild depression and normal to abnormal anxiety levels. The findings of the present study revealed no significant improvement in emotional well-being in regard to depression and stress and HRQOL mental and health component summary scores. However, participants with anxiety were significantly benefited from taking part in the study regardless of the key ingredients of the meals. These findings suggested that these communities need further social support. The assessments of nutritional status showed a significant improvement in some assessments such as HOMA and BMI scores. Talbina intake also negatively correlated with CRP levels in AC phase and changes in blood insulin levels. Further investigations should be conducted with a higher dosage of β-glucan for a longer duration and a larger sample size to examine the beneficial effects of β-glucan. Furthermore, micronutrient composition in Talbina meal should be analyzed in order to assess the effectiveness of Talbina in mental and physical well-being. The findings might not be representative of the effect of Talbina supplementation on emotional well-being and physical health, health-related quality of life, and nutritional status in the general population. Our findings could be a framework for exploring the optimal formula of Talbina meal and a springboard for improving emotional well-being and nutrition status in Arab refugees.

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