Experts are exploring the power of foods to help alleviate symptoms of depression and increase feelings of well-being. Find out which nutrients to add to your diet to improve your mood.
Our diet is a determining factor in our mental state. In this vein, much research is looking at how to maximize the vast potential of different nutrients. Some foods may even contribute to improving symptoms of depression.
The research was conducted to provide physicians with tools to support them in prescribing more comprehensive treatments for depression that also consider the role of nutrition in improving a patient’s physical condition and mood, especially for those with certain nutritional deficiencies.
Based on the results of the study, a list of ‘essential brain nutrients’ such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins E, D, B1, B9, and B12 was compiled, the consumption of which could help alleviate emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Chocolate is one of the foods we turn to most often in times of difficulty because, in addition to its irresistible taste, it can increase the body’s production of serotonin. This hormone brings us joy and well-being. However, due to its high-calorie content, limiting its consumption to one ounce of sporadic and preferably dark chocolate is necessary to serve as an emergency in times of sadness.
loss of Lactobacillus – the bacteria used for fermentation – triggers the onset of the first symptoms of depression. In contrast, they found that yogurt contains these bacteria in large quantities, so eating it regularly could help prevent this affective disorder.
Walnuts are indispensable in the diet because, in addition to studies confirming their heart-healthy properties, they can also protect against Alzheimer’s disease and improve symptoms of depression. Their content of vegetable fats, which are beneficial if taken in the right amounts, as well as omega 3, magnesium, and selenium, could help us feel better. They are also high in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin and can improve mood.
4. Turkey meat
Like almost all lean protein-rich foods, Turkey meat is high in tryptophan, which scientists believe is an essential ingredient for stimulating the body’s production of serotonin. This natural substance is key to depression. Poultry meat can also be substituted for chicken meat, although the amount of tryptophan is significantly lower.
Good coffee will cheer everyone because caffeine makes us alert and awakens our attention. However, it also seems to have a protective effect, as it prevents stress that would lead to depression, although experts warn that its consumption should be avoided in pregnancy and postpartum depression, as it could have the opposite effect to the desired one and induce stress that intensifies this affective disorder.
Researchers have also highlighted hot foods as potential helpers in improving symptoms of depression. Like any spicy food, chili is thermogenic, i.e., it increases blood circulation and provides capsaicin. This chemical compound helps the brain produce more endorphins, another hormone related to happiness and emotional well-being. Capsaicin can also be obtained from ginger or the pepper family.
Salmon and other fish, such as tuna, contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fats. One of these is omega-3s, which are lower in people with depression than those without the disorder, according to one study. It is, therefore, advisable to eat this or other fish, such as anchovies or sardines, regularly, even if the amount of omega-3s in them is lower.
Milk is a great source of vitamin D – the ‘sunshine vitamin’ – found in very few foods. Those who consume this vitamin at a healthy level are less likely to experience depression. It’s best to choose the most natural, non-fat, unpasteurized varieties.
Eggs – especially the yolk – are rich in the amino acid par excellence regarding well-being, tryptophan. Despite the myths surrounding it, it
can be eaten four to five times a week, limited to three if a person has high cholesterol.
10. Green vegetables
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale have high amounts of folic acid or vitamin B9, which is essential for the proper functioning of brain cells. the risk of depression could be significantly reduced with regular intake of folic acid, which is abundant in these vegetables.
Serotonin, a natural antidepressant
There is a neurotransmitter in our body called serotonin, which is responsible for inducing feelings of well-being and happiness and which, if not present in normal amounts, can lead to disorders such as anxiety, depression, or sadness.
To produce serotonin, the body needs to take in tryptophan, an amino acid it cannot make, so we must get it from certain foods such as eggs, nuts, or fish.
It should be added that these effects are short-lived; in other words, our mood may improve after eating, but if we want to take advantage of these potential properties of food, scientists recommend eating a varied diet.
Although it should be stressed that there are no specific foods for treating depression per se, a healthy diet can be an important part of an overall treatment plan to help us improve our physical and mental state.