Surprising Links: Diet and Depression - Culinary Therapy

Surprising Links: Diet and Depression

Depression and anxiety in Western society are more common than one would think. For many of us, relief comes in the form of a pill. For some, this is certainly warranted, and for others, there may just be another, more natural approach to this difficult mental health concern.

Anti-depressant drugs come with a list of serious side effects, which may cause more problems than they treat. And I’d like to argue that while drugs provide relief, they haven’t addressed the root cause of depression and anxiety, which studies have shown is linked to inflammation. And inflammation can be traced back to a weak gut, so to feel less moody, uptight, or anxious we have to start here.

Sometimes, all it takes is a diet rich in good, healthy, brain-supportive foods to boost serotonin and dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitters) in your brain. So, get crunching on pumpkin seeds. And make sure that you are eating enough protein which contains amino acids, the building blocks to neurotransmitter formation. Neurotransmitters are the precursors to some of our feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

Another key nutrient found in everyday foods that will naturally help boost your mood are the B-vitamins.

The B-Vitamins

The B-complex of vitamins have dramatic mood boosting and anxiety reducing effects – more than any other nutrient! These vitamins are crucial for optimal neurotransmitter levels in the body, which is crucial for good brain health.  In particular with regards to depression, B3 and B6 are of significance. B3 is a building block of tryptophan and tryptophan is a building block of serotonin. B6 helps to conserve the tryptophan in your body.  Both influence mood and anxiety, helping your body to relax.

Some great food sources of B3 are:

  • liver
  • peanuts
  • mushrooms
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • whole grains
  • almonds
  • avocado

Some great food sources of B6 are:

  • walnuts
  • dark leafy greens, like spinach
  • egg
  • wild-caught fish
  • poultry
  • beans
  • sweet potato

Your Simple Action Plan:

Choose 1-2 vitamin B-rich foods and add them to your weekly shopping list. If you’re feeling consistently depressed, stressed or anxious, a conversation with your nutritionist would be beneficial.

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