There are a lot of lifestyle factors that can contribute to your depression and anxiety such as; lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of sun, and lack of the right nutrition! Often or not people jump to the medication before thinking about what they are putting into their mouths and their bodies.
Here are my 6 favourite foods that combat depression and anxiety by boosting your mood!
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin (and squash) seeds have some of the highest levels of the essential amino acid tryptophan. There are eight essential amino acids that your body needs and cannot synthesise (make) itself; isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. As the body can’t make these amino acids they must be obtained from food (or supplements).
Tryptophan is responsible for making vitamin B3 (niacin) in the liver and stimulates the production of serotonin the mood boosting neurotransmitter (the chemical that sends your brain messages) which is responsible for regulating your mood, your body temperature, your appetite, libido, and sleep patterns.
So crack out that trail mix and get munching!!!
2. Flaxseeds/Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds are the highest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and are full of dietary fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats. Omega-3’s help to inhibit inflammation, the body’s response to any threats such as infection and it is also responsible for a lot of autoimmune disorders and conditions such as asthma and eczema. Omega-3’s also reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for that horrendous feeling you get when you have a fright and your heart wants to explode out of your chest. It is what is responsible for your ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ reaction.
Your body again can’t make omega-3’s so has to obtain them from food or supplementation!
Other great sources of omega-3; walnuts, salmon, and mackerel.
3. Fermented Cod Liver Oil
I am a huge fan of taking fermented cod liver oil, such as the Green Pastures one, in the winter as it has super high levels of vitamin D. Cod, unlike us, do not obtain their vitamin D from the sun but rather from what they eat; phytoplankton and zooplankton. These microorganisms are high in vitamins A, D2, and D3, they absorb their vitamin D from sunlight.
If you can’t get out into the sun in the daytime your body will become deficient in vitamin D fairly easily and this can have an impact upon your mood. Nobody quite knows the reason why as of yet but research shows that it is the case. If you’re interested in how much sunlight you require listen to this podcast over on Primal Eye Magazine!
Other sources of vitamin D; regular cod liver oil and herring.
4. Matcha Green Tea
Greent tea, as you probably already know, contains high levels of antioxidants, but what you might not have known is that is contains the amino acid l-theanine. L-theanine produces several neurotransmitters key to fighting anxiety, it helps to regulate your cortisol and serotonin levels. This is often why when you drink green tea or a matcha latte you don’t feel the same caffeine jitters as with coffee or black tea!
Tumeric is an amazing spice that you can use in curries and even drinks such as my Paleo White Chocolate Sunrise Tea. Tumeric contains turmerones and curcuminods that possess highly anti-inflammatory properties and yup, you guessed it, help to fight inflammation and depression!
6. Cacao/Dark Chocolate
Cacao contains high levels of antioxidants and magnesium which helps to lower blood pressure and stress levels and improve blood flow. Cacao/dark chocolate decreases inflammation and reduces stress hormone production in the body balances the body’s cortisol levels. It’s best to buy some cacao powder or raw chocolate as it has higher levels of antioxidants and magnesium, and besides it means you can get creative in the kitchen and make some raw chocolate brownies! If you can’t afford such luxuries aim to eat chocolate containing 85% cocoa solids minimum but be cautious and only eat a square or two to avoid the sugar!
Other foods high in magnesium; spinach and dark leafy greans (kale, swiss chard), pumpkin seeds, and brazil nuts.
Do you find that any of these foods help your mental health? Or maybe you know of some more that you’d like to share? Drop a comment using the comments box below!