You have probably heard it a million times…. You are what you eat. And now growing research supports that the quality of our food is not only important for our physical health but can influence depression and anxiety as well.
The current Standard American Diet (SAD, indeed) unfortunately is calorie-loaded, nutrient-poor, and highly processed, leaving us with extra calories and little high quality nutrition. Animal studies have found that a diet high in fat, sugar and processed foods leads to higher rates of anxiety and depression.
Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet high in fish, olive oil, nuts, and whole grains has been linked to lower rates of depression. One study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet for 4 years reduced their risk of depression by 40-60 percent. Another study found that using a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and berries called “MIND” (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)– a hybrid of a Mediterranean diet and a diet for people with high blood pressure– was linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease
So are you ready to boost your mood with food? Here are 8 different types of brain and mood boosting foods!!
1. Walnuts, Almonds, Hazelnuts. Nuts are a good source of Vitamin E, Zinc , Magnesium and even healthy Omega-3’s all of which have shown to boost mood.
2. Blueberries and other berries. Berries, especially blueberries, have been found to protect the brain. Not only have they been found to boost mood but in one study, eating two servings of blueberries a week was linked to a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 35%
3. Fish and Fish Oil. Studies have found that high fish consumption reduces depression. This is largely in part due to the fact that fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, an effective supplement to treatment for depression. For mood benefits you should try to get 1-3 gm of total eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) per day with the focus on EPA
4. Fermented Foods and Probiotics. Research is pouring in on the important link between the bacteria in the gut (your so-called “second brain”) and your mood. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and one of my new favorite beverages called kombucha contain probiotics and have been found to reduce anxiety. Several studies have also shown that fermented foods and probiotics can also help with depression
5. Mussels, Oysters. Although you wont catch me eating them, oysters and shellfish have high content of vitamin B12 which is important for neurotransmitters in the brain and nerves, and a deficiency can lead to depression and anxiety. Plus, we have all heard about the aphrodisiac properties of oysters and more intimacy is definitely a mood booster!
6. Dark Chocolate, raw cacao powder or nibs. Dark chocolate and raw cacao (powder from unroasted cocoa beans) contains specific polyphenols that have been found to improve calmness and contentedness. Raw cacao nibs and powder do not contain added sugars and can be used in smoothies and healthy baked goods.
7. Pumpkin seeds. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains almost half the daily recommended dose for magnesium, an essential mineral to protect you from depression and anxiety. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and tryptophan, which help promotes sleep.
8. Turmeric. There is mounting evidence that shows depression is largely an inflammatory disorder. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. The best way to increase turmeric consumption is to use it to spice up your food however some people even drink it as a tea.
Now get out there and get some mood boosting foods!!
Dr. Dyer, IntegrativeDO
Premier Integrative Health