Here's a no-brainer for the health nut in you - what do flaxseeds, walnuts, and salmon have in common? You guessed it omega 3's. Omega 3's help beat the blues by lifting your mood. These fatty acids fight depression by improving reception of the "happy hormone" serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter.
Flaxseeds, Walnuts, and Salmon
Here's a no-brainer for the health nut in you - what do flaxseeds, walnuts, and salmon have in common? You guessed it omega 3's. Omega 3's help beat the blues by lifting your mood. These fatty acids fight depression by improving reception of the "happy hormone" serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter. As a plus, they are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that provides the raw material your body needs to make serotonin.
These foods beat antidepressants by a landslide. As opposed to antidepressant medication that simply prevents serotonin from being absorbed, these foods help the body naturally make more serotonin.
Simply eating foods rich in tryptophan isn't going to ensure you've got all the tryptophan your brain needs. Certain cofactors are needed for your body to be able to convert tryptophan to serotonin efficiently. These include vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, and iron. A nutrient-dense, whole food, plant-based diet will ensure you're getting the most of the tryptophan you eat.
Did you know? Speaking of tryptophan, why does turkey get all the credit? We can easily name at least 10 plant-based foods richer in tryptophan than turkey. Spirulina, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, soybeans and tofu, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, oat bran, cashews, pistachios, spinach, and watercress. The list could go on but I've already passed 10.
Your Brain on Chocolate
Aren't you glad chocolate is on this list? See, your mood is already getting better. The trick is to choose the right kind of chocolate. Pure chocolate helps release a neurotransmitter and natural antidepressant - phenylethylamine, a mood-booster also known as the "love drug" because, well, you guessed it! It mimcs the same feeling your body naturally experiences when falling in love.
As opposed to SSRI's (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) that have a wide range of negative side effects (including insulin resistance, bone density loss, and even maternal depression (isn't that what we're trying to treat, here?) phenylehtylamine from chocolate is a safer way to increase serotonin concentrations at the synapse and prevent its absorption.
Positivity with a little help from your friends - Probiotics
I know what you're thinking. What on earth do bacteria in my digestive system have to do with my mood? While you can't expect any heart-to-heart empathizing peptalk from them, they can perform some fascinating gut-to-brain stress therapy and anxiety relief.
Yep, it's time to bridge the brain-gut gap. Your microbiome can modify your neural function, which then can alter your emotional and cognitive functions (the way you think and feel!)
Consider a recent French clinical study of a group of patients with diagnosed depression or anxiety. Half of the study subjects received probiotics and half received a placebo. After 30 days of treatment, patients taking probiotics reported less anxiety attacks, depression, anger, hostility, paranoia, and obsessive compulsiveness.
Include probiotic supplements and and probiotic food sources (such as fermented dairy, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, or kimchi) in your daily life. EnergyFirst's Probiotic Blend (http://www.energyfirst.com/probiotic-blend) contains 2 billion active cells per capsule.
Wait, but isn't that an anti-inflammatory spice? Indeed it is. What does depression have to do with inflammation? Plenty! First off, depression is often accompanied by physical symptoms including digestive complaints, muscle pain, fatigue, and headaches. All of these are linked to inflammation.
Patients diagnosed with depression also show high levels of inflammation in blood test results. Blood tests for inflammation search for markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
Consider those antidepressant meds you hear about in all those advertisements. Look carefully and you'll find that one of their actions is to provide a small anti-inflammatory effect.
Enter turmeric. Curcumin, turmeric's active ingredient, has demonstrated antidepressant-like activity. Consider how this property was demonstrated in a recenty RCT (randomized controlled trial) of 60 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Over the course of 6 weeks,
-1/3 of patients were given a commonly prescribed antidepressant (Prozac)
- 1/3 of the group received Prozac and 1 gram of oil-based curcumin
- 1/3 of patients received curcumin alone for 6 weeks (yay, no antidepressant side effects for them!)
At the end of 6 weeks, curcumin proved to be a safe and effective way to reduce depressive symptoms in patients with major depression.
EnergyFirst's Inflammation Blend has 200 mg of turmeric root extract (95% of which is the active ingredient curcumin) per capsule. Turmeric is combined
with other specialty antioxidants, including vitamin C, green tea extract, quercetin, and ginger for brain health as well as heart and join support.
Unstable blood sugar can also put down your mood. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with crankiness and low energy levels that can negatively affect your mood.
A natural whey protein shake can support mood by stabilizing blood sugar. The source of whey is important, though, since pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics can be counterproductive in defeating depression.
ProEnergy whey protein isolate uses whey protein from grass-fed cows not treated with hormones and antibiotics. A meal replacement shake with higih-quality lean protein, unprocessed carbohydrates, and raw fats blended in can help you replace inflammatory food choices that will only mess with your mood and emotions.
Your brain functions best when given high quality fuel. Nourish your brain. Protect it from oxidative stress and toxic, processed, refined fuel.
Once you implement these changes, don't forget to pay close attention to how you feel - both at the moment of eating but also throughout the day. You'll be surprised how much better you'll feel physically and emotionally.
Webmedcentral. 2013 Sep 30; 4(9): 4409.
Gut Microbes. 2011 Jul-Aug;2(4):256-61. doi: 10.4161/gmic.2.4.16108. Epub 2011 Jul 1
Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85.