For many people food is inextricably linked to emotion, and in particular stress and depression. It’s common for people to reach for comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, cookies and ice cream when the chips are down.
These types of foods are often on the top of people’s self-medication playlist. In fact, they can help the eater feel a little better for a few minutes, but sadly the feel-good vibe is short-lived. Fortunately, there are many foods that have proven to help with stress, depression and anxiety.
“Food is a very powerful modifier when it comes to depression and the brain,” states Katie Swift, co-director of the Food as Medicine program of the Center, in an article published in Healthy Women. “The choice you make at the plate absolutely influences how you’re going to feel.”
Swift says we should all create a go-to “depression defense portfolio” of foods that strengthen not only bodies, but also boost emotional health. Admittedly, it may take a while to say farewell to your friends Ben and Jerry, who stand by you through thick and thin, but eventually healthy swaps can become your norm.
- Mood making magnesium: Women, in particular, often have insufficient amounts of magnesium. Why does this matter? Well, scientists believe magnesium helps improve mood and energy by producing and supporting the brain chemical serotonin. From almonds, leafy greens and beans to grains, salmon and oysters, magnesium-rich foods are easy to incorporate into your healthy diet.
- Makes friends with fats and carbs: Many of us try to shun fats and carbs in an effort to manage weight. But we may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater as plant-based fats and complex carbohydrates are essential for healthy brain health and mood. Good fat sources include avocados, seeds and olive oil. As for complex carbs, reach for brown rice, legumes and whole wheat bread. To keep your energy at an even keel, partner those healthy carbs with protein, which is another known depression fighter. Snack on whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese or yogurt and granola.
- Omega-3: Chances are you’ve heard the nutritional praises of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. But did you know that there is clinical evidence that proves that dietary omega-3 consumption can thwart depression? Studies have shown that there is a link between low omega-3 levels and a higher incidence of depression. Wild salmon, trout, walnuts, hemp and chia seeds are just a few of the Mother Nature’s omega-3 rich foods.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid and Folic Acid: Studies have shown both of these nutrients can help with mood. Tomatoes, in particular, are rich in folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid. In fact, many studies show an elevated incidence of folate deficiency in depressed patients. Folic acid prevents an excess of homocysteine, which restricts the production of healthy mood neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine from forming in the body. Alpha lipoic acid helps the body convert glucose into energy, and in turn stabilizes mood.
Please note, these healthy foods don’t take the place of professional mental health services. Seek professional help if you suspect your depression issues are more than a passing phase.
In the coming months, the Juvenon Health Journal will continue to feature research that will help you stay informed and healthy. By offering effective, all-natural supplements and health news you can use, Juvenon provides an essential arsenal for combating aging enemies.