A Toronto woman denied a flight to New York as part of a cruise trip wants to know who told U.S. border agents about her history of mental illness. 

Ellen Richardson says she was turned away by a U.S. customs agent at Pearson International Airport on Monday because she had been hospitalized for clinical depression in June 2012. 

She missed her flight to New York City and a Caribbean cruise, for which she had paid $6,000, as a result. 

"I was in shock. I was completely in shock," Richardson said Friday on CBC's Metro Morning. "I had no idea how that was relevant to my seeking entry into the U.S. for a holiday." 

Only later, she added, did she wonder how the agent knew her history in the first place. 

"It really hit me later — that it's quite stunning they have that information." 

Though U.S. officials have access to police records, medical records are supposed to be held in the strictest confidence. 

Richardson's stay in hospital was preceded by a 911 call, placed by her mother, but she says police were never involved, just an ambulance.

U.S. border guards are allowed to bar anyone they deem a threat to themselves, others or their property. 

Richardson says she has been on several cruises since 2001, all of which required U.S. flights, with no problems.

She has hired a lawyer and turned to her member of Parliament for answers.

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  • Walnuts

    Walnuts are chock-full of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are the only good nut source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/healthy-food-healthiest-list_n_1636409.html#slide=1162293">HuffPost Healthy Living earlier reported</a>. That means they help promote blood flow, which in turn allows for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain. And <a href="Diseasehttp://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/news_article.php?newsID=730">research presented at the 2010 International Conference on Alzheimer's</a> found that mice with the disease who were regularly fed walnuts had improved memory, learning and motor skill coordination, <a href="http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/758-best-foods-brain-health.html">according to MyHealthNewsDaily</a>.

  • Olive Oil

    Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to <a href="http://www.boston.com/dailydose/2012/05/18/tweaking-dietary-fat-intake-could-help-slow-brain-aging-study-suggests/OO7tmvxhB2E8V0algT7DlL/story.html">actually <em>slow</em> brain aging</a>.

  • Berries

    Animal studies have long indicated a link between berry consumption and brain health. But a recent study published in the <em>Annals of Neurology</em> found that a diet high in blueberries, strawberries and others were linked to a <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/26/brain-food-berries-can-slow-cognitive-decline/">slower mental decline in areas like memory and focus</a> in a large sample of middle-aged women, reported <em>TIME</em>'s Alice Park.

  • Sardines

    Fatty fish like sardines (<a href="http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate">and salmon!</a>) are a well-known brain booster, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/questions/omega-3/index.html">have been linked to lower risk of dementia, improved focus and memory</a>.

  • Coffee

    Caffeine, the mild stimulant found in coffee, improves mental acuity, though the drink's enthusiasts -- <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/humanbody/truthaboutfood/best/caffeinebrain.shtml">who guzzle 120,000 tons of the stuff each year</a> -- likely already know that. Aside from caffeine's brain boosting effects, coffee's antioxidant richness helps maintain brain health. And some research suggests that drinking coffee can actually <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/coffee-cuts-depression-women_n_982122.html">stave off depression in women</a>.

  • Spinach

    Spinach is rich in the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help protect against cognitive decline, <a href="http://www.nutraconference.com/networknow/public/SessionDetails.aspx?SessionID=1004689&FromPage=nz_ALSessionSearch.aspx">according to researchers from Tufts University</a>. And <a href="http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/11-best-foods-your-brain?page=11">a longitudinal study at Harvard Medical School</a> found that women who reported eating the most leafy green and cruciferous vegetables had a markedly lower rate of cognitive decline, compared to those who ate the least.

  • Dark Chocolate

    Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is healthy for your whole body, but its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/brain-health-foods_n_1593650.html#slide=1087860">caffeine content is thought to play a role</a> in maintaining mental acuity. What's more, chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidant that helps to improve blood flow (and thus brain health) by regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

  • Avocados

    Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that <a href="http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate">improve vascular health and blood flow</a>, making them another brain food.

  • Water

    When a person becomes dehydrated, their brain tissue actually shrinks. And several studies have shown that <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336685">dehydration can affect cognitive function</a>. Dehydration can impair short-term memory, focus and decision making, <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201010/why-your-brain-needs-water">according to <em>Psychology Today</em></a>.

  • Beets

    Beets are a good source of naturally-occurring nitrates, which help improve blood flow to the brain, <a href="http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/11-best-foods-your-brain">according to <em>Shape</em></a>.

  • Garlic

    Garlic may help stave off some forms of brain cancer, according to research published in <em>Cancer</em>, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society. Investigators found that <a href="organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective against glioblastoma">the organo-sulfur compounds in garlic actually worked to kill glioblastoma cells</a> -- a type of malignant tumor cell.