Can You Fight Depression With Food?
We’ve all heard of “comfort foods.” You know the one meal that works as the perfect pick-me-up when you are feeling down?
There has been a lot of negative talk about food and mood regarding depressive overeating. And of course, there is reason to be concerned if you or someone you know turns to food for solace. No doubt there are links between depression and obesity.
However, recent studies have also found that there are a number of foods that can boost mood and fight depression naturally. In fact they can do it just as well as, or in some cases even better than, drugs and antidepressants.
The truth is when we are depressed most people turn toward “junk foods” which are high in salt, sugar and fat. This is what causes depressive overeating or depressive obesity, which can become a never ending cycle of feeling ugly and overweight, which leads to more eating.
But according to nutritionist Dr. Shawn Talbott’s recent book, 7 Days to Unlimited Energy, Focus, and Well-Being, you can break this pattern and also significantly change your mood by fighting those cravings and substituting snacks for lean proteins, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and fish.
According to Talbott, these foods not only are good for you physically, they “short circuit” depressed states by raising your energy level and your mental focus, and emotional state.
Better Moodies for Foodies
So what are these positive provisions? One of the main bummer boosters is Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Low levels of Omega 3s in the diet have been linked to all sorts of depression and mental issues.
A recent study that looked at levels of depression all over the world found that one area with the least amount of depression and mental illness, surprisingly, was Iceland. Now you might think, “What? It’s cold, they have darkness almost 24 hours a day for six months out of the year – how can they not be depressed?”
The correlation is, not only do Icelanders have the lowest levels of depression and mental illness in the world, they have the highest level Omega 3s in their mostly fish- based diet! The fish highest in Omega 3 fatty acids are wild salmon, mackerel, bluefish, and tuna. Other than fish, a great sources of Omega 3s are walnuts.
All lean proteins are good, but turkey may be very good at fighting the blues. The same amino acid, tryptophan, that tends to make you feel sleepy after that Thanksgiving Dinner, also is a natural antidepressant, raising the level of serotonin – your “feel good” chemical in the brain.
Talbott also suggests that low-fat dairy products, skim milk, yogurt, and low-fat cheeses – in moderation – contain peptides and other nutrients that produce a sense of relaxation and well-being. See, your mom was right about that glass of warm milk!
Tea Totaling and a Nice Surprise
If you have read anything about healthy eating in the past few years, you have certainly heard about the many health benefits of Green Tea. Not only are the catechins in green tea powerful antioxidants for general wellbeing, but green tea also contains the amino acid Theanine. Theanine has been said to produce a sense of relaxed alertness.
Turmeric the spice in curry also has been used for centuries to improve mood and fight depression in India.
And now ladies (and gentlemen) here is a pleasant surprise – Chocolate can fight depression. No, that does not mean you should go out and binge on Snickers bars and Rocky Road, but really dark chocolate of 80% Cocoa or more, in small amounts has been shown to raise serotonin levels and fight depression!