25% of adults and 10% of children in America struggle with depression each year, according to The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Unfortunately, when we are depressed, we don’t reach for nutrient dense foods that may help improve our mood. Instead, we go for comfort foods, loaded with sugar, fat, and salt which though may give a temporary lift, ultimately make depression worse. The adverse relationship of course, is also true. Healthy food can improve one’s mood. Certainly anyone who is feeling blue for an extended period should see a physician or a mental health professional. But one should also consider all aspects of one’s lifestyle, and whether or not they are positive or negative influences on emotional health. A holistic approach is best. Here are some foods to avoid, and others to enjoy, when keeping our diet in mind, for helping to control depression and other emotional aberrations. One particular thing to avoid is artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame. This sweetener has been proven in studies to reduce the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin, the happiness compound in our brains. Sometimes the depressed drink to feel better. Limit your alcohol intake. One to two drinks a day can be healthful. But any more than that and you are putting your mood and your body at risk. Too much alcohol depletes one’s serotonin level. Heavy drinking is also associated with all kinds of mental disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Some find a good cup of coffee soothing. Caffeine can seem to lift your spirits. But too much can lower serotonin and cause sleep disorders. Limit intake.
In the latest research, scientists are finding more about the microbiome in the gut, and the role it plays in other aspects of the body, such as our immune system and emotional status. Microorganisms in the intestines actually create neurochemicals that alter mood, scientists have found. So eating probiotic foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut can not only aid the immune system, and digestion, they help lift a person’s mood too. Be sure to consume organic, raw food as much as possible. Limiting the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals can help lessen emotional disharmony. Make sure to eat many different kinds of fruits and vegetables in a cornucopia of colors. This way you will get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. B12 is one vitamin that can help. It carries oxygen in the blood and so lifts mood. Lentils, spinach, almonds, and beetroot are all great sources. Vitamin D has been said to help alleviate mood disorders. You can find it in milk and other dairy items, juices, bread, or just getting 10-15 minutes of sun a day. Selenium decreases depression. Find it in Brazil nuts, walnuts, poultry, and fish. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and level out emotional disparities, including depression. Flax seed, nuts, and oily fish are all great sources. Include healthful foods in your diet, and limit or avoid unhealthful ones, to promote emotional wellbeing and help control or even lessen negative emotional states, including depression.