Healthy Foods That Can Improve Your Mood & Relieve Your Depression
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According to National Institute of Mental Health (2015), approximately 20 million Americans suffer from clinical depression, also called major depression.
Do you ever feel down? If so, do you feel down some times or most of the time? Are you looking for a way to improve your mood and relieve your depression – all at the same time? If the answer to those questions is - “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Then you are in luck because this article will teach you which foods can make you feel a whole lot better! So, what exactly is clinical depression? Well, it is a persistent/chronic sadness. More specifically, clinical depression is characterized by overwhelming feelings of despair, hopelessness, helplessness, worry, sadness, along with a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities. It is important to understand that “being down” or “having the blues” is not clinical depression; rather it is just a normal emotion that most people experience from time-to-time.
Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a chronic mental illness that affects every part of the sufferer’s life (i.e. self-esteem, self-confidence, relationships, and academic and career successes). The good news is that there is hope. You can boost your mood, and relieve your depression symptoms. How? Well, by following your doctor’s treatment plan, seeking counseling, and improving your diet. How can improving my diet help my depression? Well, truth-be-told, certain foods can improve or aggravate health conditions. In other words, some foods can help reduce the frequency and severity of depressive episodes. What are those foods? Well, keep reading, and you will find out, which foods can help manage your moods and health condition.
Listed below are healthy foods that can improve your mood and relieve your depression symptoms:
Fatty fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, and king mackerel can help improve your moods and ease depression symptoms. How? Well, these fish contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for improving moods, and fighting depression. According to recent research studies, omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to prevent or reduce neurotransmitter imbalances, which are thought to trigger depressive episodes. Results indicate that people, who consume little-to-no fatty fish, are more likely to develop depression, than those who eat fish at least 3 times a week. Other foods that contain healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include: walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, nuts, spinach, ham, margarine, and anchovies.
When was the last time you ate a heaping serving of liver? Not recently? Well, you may want to look up some ways to prepare it because it can boost your mood and help zap away depression symptoms! How? Well, liver is chocked full of vitamin B12, which is good for regulating moods, and strengthening nervous system functioning. It is also has the ability to produce a “calming” sensation throughout the body. Note: High levels of homocysteine, a protein produced in the body that increases when you are stressed, can trigger or worsen depression. Eating a diet rich in vitamin B12 can help lower your homocysteine level. Other foods that have healthy amounts of vitamin B12 include: cooked clams, crab, tofu, fortified cereals, bran, lean red meat, eggs, low-fat or skim milk, and Swiss cheese.
You can lift your mood, and relieve your depression symptoms by adding turkey to your diet. Why? Well, low levels of serotonin, a hormone responsible for regulating moods, can trigger or exacerbate depression symptoms. Note: In order to regulate mood, serotonin must work with an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan can naturally be found in animal proteins like turkey. In other words, tryptophan helps raise serotonin levels, which is needed to combat depression. Other healthy tryptophan-based foods include: shrimp, scallop, tofu, spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, Swiss chard, kale, low-fat cheese, skim or low-fat milk, lamb, eggs, and lean chicken.
Sugar? Are you serious? Yes, I am. Sugar can actually help improve your mood, especially if it is natural, healthy sugar. Note: I am not referring unhealthy sugars commonly found in cakes, doughnuts, and cookies. No, I am referring to the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables. For instance, sugar beets are tasty, regardless of whether they are cooked in a light cream sauce, or pickled in a jar. Moreover, molasses is a sugary treat that can boost your mood within minutes. How? Well, it contains large amounts of nutrients like: vitamin B, iron, calcium, and phosphorous. In addition, both sugar beets and molasses are rich in uridine, a nucleotide that aids in neurological functions (brain functions). Uridine has been known to reduce depression symptoms.
How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? One or two? If you aren’t drinking coffee, you may want to start. Why? Well, because coffee is highly caffeinated, and caffeine can reduce depression symptoms. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can improve your mood, reduce depression symptoms, energize your body, and simulate your central nervous system. So, grab a cup or two of “joe” to relieve your depression symptoms. Note: Caffeine is most effective for treating mild depression. Other foods that contain caffeine include: dark chocolate, black tea, and cocoa. Avoid caffeinated beverages like: sodas and sugary teas, because they can trigger mood swings, blood sugar fluctuations, weight gain, irritability, and anxiety. Also, do not drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day because too much caffeine can cause adverse effects.
Who doesn’t like a glass of fresh orange juice in the mornings? Well, if you love orange juice, you are in luck. Why? Well, because orange juice is an excellent source of both vitamin C and folic acid. Folic acid can alleviate depression symptoms, and ward off future depressive episodes. How? Well, folic acid supports brain function and serotonin production (the hormone responsible for mood regulation), which is needed to fight depression. Other healthy foods that are rich in folic acid include: dark leafy greens (i.e. turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens), broccoli, asparagus, citrus fruits (i.e. oranges, cranberries, strawberries, oranges, and grapefruits), peas, lentils, okra, avocados, Brussel sprouts, beets, cauliflower, corn, celery, beans, seeds, and squash.
You can get the right daily dosage of folic acid with one 8-oz glass of orange juice or one cup of cooked spinach.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Cowan, G. (2015). Why your diet can make or break depression recovery. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/01/08/why-your-diet-can-make-or-break-depression-recovery/
Health Mad. (2007). The benefits of caffeine. Retrieved from http://healthmad.com/nutrition/the-benefits-of-caffeine/
National Institute of Mental Health. (2015). What is depression? Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
WebMD. (2015). Depression and diet. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery