By Sara Novak, Planet Green
We’re finding out more and more everyday that the mind and the body are integrally connected. The way we treat our bodies has much to do with the way we feel each day. The more stress we put on our bodies, the more stress that we put on our minds and vice versa. Mild depression and anxiety is often as connected to the body as it is to the mind. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, a few adjustments in your diet may be just what you need to feel better again. Keep in mind that you should speak to your doctor before making any serious changes to your diet and this is not a doctor’s advice.
“When researchers came up with the term ‘brain chemical imbalance’ to explain depression, the next step should have been to supply the brain with nutrients. However, chemicals were prescribed instead,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, an author and medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association.
Processed is a Problem
Nutrient deficiencies make our bodies do all sorts of weird things and depression can be one of the results. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and reported in Everyday Health, compared a whole foods diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish with a diet of highly processed meats, grains, and fast foods. Those who ate the whole foods diet had a one-third lower risk of becoming depressed. Not to mention that eating processed junk foods means you’re more likely to be overweight, a sure fire way of becoming depressed. Processed foods are empty calories meaning that they eat into your daily caloric allowance without supplying your body with necessary nutrients. Choose local, whole foods with all their enzymes intact in order to feed your brain the nutrients it needs.
Finding Relief in Whole Foods
Make sure you get enough B Vitamins, which are key to brain health and emotional well being. Add dark leafy greens into your diet as well as cantaloupe, asparagus, and beets for added folic acid or B-9. Get your B-2 from broccoli, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts, and munch on millet, wheat germ, and oysters for B-1. B-3 or niacin can be found in peanuts or peanut butter and B-6 can be found in fish, chicken, and watermelon. Get your fill of B-12 from raw cow’s milk or organic milk.
Magnesium is a mineral that’s known for producing serotonin, the body’s feel good medicine. Good sources of magnesium include halibut, almonds, cashews, unprocessed peanut butter, spinach, black eyed peas, lentils, kidney and pinto beans, baked potatoes, and long grain brown rice.
Study after study has shown the benefits of omegas as well. In the May 1999 Archives of General Psychiatry, a study of fish oil in 30 manic-depressive patients found that 61 percent of those who took 10 grams of fish oil per day for four months reported a marked improvement in their symptoms. By contrast, only 19 percent of those receiving the placebo benefited. But you don’t need to eat fish at all to get the necessary omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is made up of three acids EPA, DHA, and ALA. ALA can be found in hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. DHA and EPA are found in algae, spirulina, blue-green algae, and chlorella.
Don’t Skip Meals
Skipping meals not only causes hunger pangs, it causes mood swings. Skipping meals causes deficiencies in the nutrients needed for brain and emotional health and when you’re hungry you don’t get enough blood sugar to the brain which sends the emotions on a roller coaster. If you’re skipping meals you’re also likely exhausted and getting the necessary 30 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy becomes impossible.