Depression, a mental disorder that affects more 350 million people worldwide, has many treatment options available. Some work better than others, and some have more side effects than others. One of the simplest options to fight depression is a change to your diet. We all know good foods are good for you, but eating the right foods can actually increase certain chemicals in the brain, giving you a better chance at fighting off depression and other mood disorders. Here are just a few.
Foods Rich In Tryptophan
Your body needs tryptophan to make more serotonin and melatonin and most whole grains are rich in tryptophan. Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that helps you relax and feel good, while melatonin helps you to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Both of which are highly important when fighting off depression.
Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pistachios and almonds are all rich in tryptophan. They are also high in protein which is a great energy source. Walnuts get an added bonus because they are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which promotes overall brain health. Add a handful of these to your daily diet and you are sure to reap the benefits.
Whole Grains are rich in tryptophan. They are also great at maintaining your blood sugar, which keeps you feeling full and energized, fighting off those negative feelings. So the next time you're hungry, look for some high-fiber whole grain carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread or pasta, brown rice or oatmeal.
Cheeses are another food containing high levels of tryptophan. Look for low or reduced fat cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan or cottage cheese. The added calcium to your diet also helps to relax your nervous system helping you manage stress levels which ultimately can help decrease your depression.
Omega-3 Rich Fish
Fish like herring, mackerel and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids found in these fish are not only good for overall health, but also have specific brain-boosting properties that help fight depression. Studies have shown that an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids worked similarly to taking antidepressant medications. If you are concerned with mercury intake, Omega-3 fish oil supplements are an easy alternative. They do contain contaminants of mercury like some fish do. They also contain adequate amounts of EPA and DHA, important fatty acids that promote overall health.
Multiple studies have come out regarding coconut oil. Coconut Oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are fatty acids that are more easily broken down than their long-chain cousins, meaning they can be turned into energy more quickly. On a daily basis your brain requires 20 percent of your energy from food to function, meaning that if you aren't taking in adequate amounts of food, your brain isn't getting the fuel it needs to thrive. Thankfully coconut oil is a very versatile food source and can be used in many recipes. When you add coconut oil to your diet, your liver is able to break it down quickly and turn it into energy for your brain. The boost of energy from the MCTs and the antioxidants that are also found in Refined Coconut Oil help to boost your mood and found to be as effective as prescription antidepressants.
If fish isn't your cup of tea, then try green tea. Green tea is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that is incredibly good for you. Polyphenols can boost dopamine levels, which are vital to creating positive moods. Polyphenols also help to maintain glucose levels which are vital to maintaining insulin production, keeping your mind and body working in top condition. Certain green teas also contain theanine, an amino acid that causes a calming effect. Theanine stimulates the production of alpha waves in the brain, these are the waves that occur when a person is relaxed.