While there may not be hard scientific proof of the effect on nutrition and depression and/or anxiety, most people recognize the impact of what we eat on how we feel. We eat for different reasons. Many of us can identify as being emotional eaters. Food becomes a coping mechanism, so we eat as a response to stress. We experience cravings, often for sweet or simple carbohydrates, or salt. When we are depressed, we seek comfort from our friends, “Ben and Jerry”. This can actually worsen the anxiety and depression.
If you are struggling with depression and anxiety, or just want to maintain your good mood and calmness, what foods are best?
- Foods rich in anti-oxidants help counteract the body’s own natural destructive elements (free radicals). These include Beta-carotene (apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato); Vitamin C (blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato); and Vitamin E (margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ)
- Carbohydrate cravings are linked to lowered serotonin levels. This important brain chemical is believed to play an important role in mood. To boost your serotonin level eat foods that have complex carbs, (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes) rather than simple carbs (such as cakes and cookies).
- Eating protein can make you feel more alert. Sources of healthy proteins include beans and peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk, poultry, soy products, and yogurt. In addition, foods like turkey, tuna, and chicken have an amino acid called tryptophan, which is used to make serotonin.
- Depression is often associated with reduced levels of certain B vitamins. Legumes, nuts, many fruits, and dark green vegetables have folate. Vitamin B12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.
- Selenium is associated with depressed mood. Foods richer in selenium include Beans and legumes, lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey), low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, seafood, and whole grains
- Societies that eat less fish, or adequate amounts of omega-3s in their diet, have higher rates of depression. Good sources of omega-3s, including alpha-linolenic acid, are Fatty fish (anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines, shad, and tuna), Flaxseed, canola and soybean oils, nuts, and dark leafy green vegetables.
- Researchers have linked seasonal affective disorder to lowered levels of vitamin D. So get out and enjoy some sunshine! Have a healthy picnic lunch!
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, and need additional help to overcome these difficulties, call the professionals at Ketamine Wellness Centers. We offer comprehensive assistance across multiple disciplines. Call today! We can help!
Dr. Ellen Diamond is the Clinical Psychologist for Ketamine Wellness Centers.