Eat For Your Mental Health
Get More Amino Acids
The targeted use of amino acid supplements has helped some people with feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Research has shown that amino acids, the important building blocks of life (responsible for all human biological processes), can help balance out brain chemistry, increase brain function and promote mental health.
Our bodies produce about 12 amino acids; the remaining eight, called essential amino acids, can be found in the foods we eat. Essential amino acids are found in protein sources, such as meats, eggs, dairy, beans, peas, and grains.
Balance Out Blood Sugar
When you are depressed, you may find yourself reaching for sugary and carb-heavy foods. While the spike in blood sugar helps for a short period, it won’t be long before you crash and find yourself feeling sad and irritable once more.
Best Foods for Depression Management
Processed foods high in sugar can cause inflammation within the body and brain. These foods are typically also high in salt, which can increase blood pressure — a major factor in strokes and heart attacks among other things. Sugar and salt aren't all bad, as small amounts are needed in the body, but we tend to go overboard.
The good news is that with some small dietary changes, your body should feel better which should improve your state of mind and wellbeing. Consider including these foods for depression in your diet:
- Dark leafy greens. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are high in powerful immune-boosting nutrients and are loaded with vitamins. These power foods help to reduce inflammation in the brain that has been linked to severe depression. They may seem intimidating at first, but a spinach salad or a power-packed green smoothie is a great way to incorporate these leafy vegetables into your diet without feeling overwhelmed.
- Nuts and seeds. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds naturally support brain function, leading to fewer depression symptoms. Walnuts and cashews are great snacks and can be incorporated into salads and stir-frys. Seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds can be a great addition to trail mix, homemade granola, and granola bars, or even added to your morning oatmeal.
- Mushrooms. Mushrooms act in a similar way to insulin, helping to lower blood sugar and stabilize your mood. Mushrooms are so diverse that they can be added into almost any meal, including salads, pasta dishes, stir-frys, and so many others.
- Beans and legumes. Beans are full of protein and, much like mushrooms, help to level out blood sugar levels. They also take longer to digest so they are a great way to keep you full for longer and can help to fight the cravings for the easily accessible processed foods.
- Avocados. These fruits have become widely popular because of their high content of folate, betacarotene and plenty of other vitamins. They are considered a fat, but they can make a great addition to any sandwich, salad or pasta dish.
- Fatty fish and lean proteins. Salmon is a great example of a fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids that encourage a healthy brain to help combat depression. Lean proteins are essential to every diet and can help you to feel full longer and ward off any cravings for sugar and processed foods that make you feel worse.
- Antioxidants. Foods like berries, broccoli, carrots, nuts and seeds, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are all full of vitamins and nutrients that help to combat the effects of damaging molecules. Foods that promote a healthy brain will naturally promote increased mental health.
- Vitamins and supplements. If a change in diet and eating habits seems daunting or overwhelming, you may want to start smaller with something like a daily vitamin or supplements to increase your intake of important nutrients. Some of the more popular options are vitamin D and B, fish oil, and magnesium. Vitamins and herbal supplements for depression should still be considered as medications and should be discussed with your doctor before taking them to ensure that they won't interfere with any other medications or conditions.