Top Ten Foods for Beating Depression

There are treatment options that can relieve depression without swallowing pills. Many of the symptoms of depression can be directly linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the standard American diet, which is largely comprised of empty carbohydrates, caffeine and sugar. Depression, mood swings and fatigue often have a common cause: poor nutrition. Avoiding depression or recovering from a depressive episode is often as easy as changing your diet and boosting your consumption of key foods that deliver brain-boosting nutrients and help regulate brain chemistry.   Our top 10 foods for beating depression are:

Fish oils:
Contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that depressed people often lack a fatty acid known as EPA. Participants in a 2002 study featured in the Archives of General Psychiatry took just a gram of fish oil each day and noticed a 50-percent decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts, and decreased sex drive. Omega-3 fatty acids can also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. Get omega-3s through walnuts, flaxseed and oily fish like salmon or tuna.

Avocado: avacado
Is a good source of potassium and low in sodium which helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.  Adequate intake of potassium can help guard against circulatory diseases, heart disease and stroke, all of which leads to higher levels of depression.  Not only are avocados a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but it is also a very concentrated dietary source of antioxidants, in particular the “carotenoid lutein”.  A few slices of avocado in salad, or mixing some chopped avocado into salsa will not only add  a rich, creamy flavor, but will greatly increase your body’s ability to absorb the health promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.

 

Asparagus:
A good source of dietary fiber, asparagus is also rich in niacin, phosphorus and very low in sodium.  One of its most impressive qualities is that it is one of those few vegetables that actually has the calcium and magnesium in the ideal ration of 2:1.  It is an excellent source of potassium, vitamins A, C and K, traces of B complex and folic acid.  Folic acid is essential for the nervous system and helps to reduce stress levels.  Asparagus is a prime source of antioxidants and glutathione that can help prevent cancer, cataracts, and produces anti-inflammatory effects which help relieve arthritis and rheumatism.

Ginseng:
Is an herbal supplement derived from the roots of the ginseng plant.  It is often claimed to be an “adaptogen”, which is a term used by herbalists to describe certain herbs that increase the body’s resistance to physical or emotional stresses.  Ginseng is helpful for a number of general uses, such as: stimulating the immune system, improving overall mental health and functioning (including improving memory), slowing the aging process, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression, to name a few.

Broccoli:
Provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold.  The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking broccoli fmsbirth control pills and during pregnancies.  The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.  The vegetable is also fiber-rich, which enhances the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as aims to reduce blood cholesterol levels.  Additionally, the health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling the following medical concerns: Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process.

Brown Rice:
Contains vitamins B1 and B3, and folic acid. Brown rice is also a low-glycemic food, which means it releases glucose into the bloodstream gradually, preventing sugar lows and mood swings. Brown rice also provides many of the trace  minerals we need to function properly, as well as being a high-fiber food that can keep the digestive system healthy and lower cholesterol. Instant varieties of rice do not offer these benefits. Any time you see “instant” on a food label, avoid it. 

Brewer’s Yeast:
Contains vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Brewer’s yeast should be avoided if you do not tolerate yeast well, but if you do, mix a thimbleful into any smoothie for your daily dose. This superfood packs a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals in a small package, including 16 amino acids and 14 minerals. Amino acids are vital for the nervous system, which makes brewer’s yeast a no-brainer for treating depression.

Turkey:
Contains the amino acid, tryptophan, which produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps improve your mood.   It is a very rich source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, B12, and zinc, all of which help to elevate and lead to improved moods.  Being a rich source of vitamin B6, turkey facilitates methyl donation in the basic cellular process of ‘methylation’.  Through this process, methyl groups are transferred from one molecule to another, which results in the formation of a wide range of active molecules that are important for the body.  The vitamin B6 and niacin present in turkey are essential for energy production in the body.  Niacin is also important for converting the proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the body into useable energy.

whole grain oatsWhole-grain oats:
Contain folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6 and B1. Oats help lower cholesterol, are soothing to the digestive tract and help avoid the blood sugar crash-and-burn that can lead to crabbiness and mood swings. Other whole grains such as kamut, spelt and quinoa are also excellent choices for delivering brain-boosting nutrients and avoiding the pitfalls of refined grains such as white flour.

Cabbage:
Contains vitamin C and folic acid. Cabbage protects against stress, infection and heart disease, as well as many types of cancers, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. There are numerous ways to get cabbage into your diet; toss it in a salad instead of lettuce, use cabbage in place of lettuce wraps, stir fry it in your favorite Asian dish, make some classic cabbage soup or juice it. To avoid gas after eating cabbage, add a few fennel, caraway or cumin seeds before cooking. Cabbage is also a good source of blood-sugar-stabilizing fiber, and the raw juice of cabbage is a known cure for stomach ulcers.

Also worth mentioning:
Foods like raw cacao, dark molasses and brazil nuts (high in selenium) are also excellent for boosting brain function and eliminating depression.

Things to avoid 
If you feel you are depressed or at risk for depression, you also need to avoid certain foods and substances. Some commonly prescribed drugs — such as antibiotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, pain killers, ulcer drugs, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, anti-Parkinson’s drugs, birth control pills, high blood pressure drugs, heart medications and psychotropic drugs — contribute to depression. If you are taking any of these, don’t quit them without talking to your doctor; but be aware that they may be contributing to your condition by depleting your body of depression-fighting vitamins and minerals.

You should also avoid caffeine, smoking and foods high in fat and sugar. Keeping your blood sugar stable and getting B vitamins is important for stabilizing your mood. Cacao can be good for mood because it releases endorphins in the brain, but watch out for milk chocolate and candy varieties high in sugar.

Other non-food things to do:sunshine fibromyalgia

  • Get plenty of sunshine. Natural sunlight is a proven cure for depression.  Take vitamin D3 supplements in the winter time.
  • Engage in regular exercise at least three times per week. Exercise lifts and mood and alters brain chemistry in a positive way.  Try walking, swimming, yoga, or weight bearing exercises.
  • Experience laughter. It’s good medicine.  Watch a movie, read, or laugh with friends.
  • Take a high quality range of mood boosting supplements to help even more.  This may include vitamin B-complex, A, C, E, D, zinc, selenium, and alpha lipoic acid.
  • Steer clear of synthetic fibers, and wear natural ones such as cotton, silk, linens, & wool.  Synthetic fibers have been known to not only cause skin irritations in some people, but can prevent your pores from ‘breathing’ and taking in oxygen or expending toxins and can lead to feeling cranky and irritable.  This includes the sheets and beds covers you sleep under and on top of each night too.

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