Depression and Food
What you eat can have a tremendous affect on your moods. There are foods that support a healthy body and provide the nutrients necessary for healthy brain chemistry and brain function. There are also foods that are so denatured that they provide little support for a healthy brain. American tend to eat a nutrient poor diet as our food supply becomes more increasingly processed, refined, and manipulated through modern scientific ways of preserving, genetically modifying, and making food more appealing (and addictive) to the general public. It is unfortunate that the idea behind marketing food is about making the highest profit, not about providing healthy food. Many skip meals and most skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Not enough food can cause depression as the millions of constant dieters can attest to. Low-fat, low calorie, and low protein diets are all a recipe for a bad mood, your body needs these nutrients and a cup of coffee is not a suitable substitute. We have become deficient in nutrients, overweight, subject to degenerative diseases, and just plain feeling bad and in a bad mood. We do not have to put up with all this…..all we have to do is to learn how to eat better.
The Standard American Diet today is made up of processed, refined sugar and starch, along with unhealthy fats. The animals that are factory farmed are full of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides and fed a diet that is not healthy for them, all to make more money. If we do eat a few vegetables or fruits they too have been subject to pesticides in an effort to have the best looking sale-able product that has also been irradiated to last longer. None of this is good for human beings to consume. When your body and organs and brain are full of all of these toxic substances feeling “good” is not possible. The foods that are particularly toxic to your mood are unfortunately the mainstays of the American diet. Sugar, syrups, fructose, and all the other forms of sugar are among other things highly addictive. Sugar is added to almost every processed food, and keeps you coming back for more. Sugar is bad enough on it’s own but in combination with refined white flour starch can not only have a negative affect on your mood, it can drastically affect your blood sugar, weight and predisposition to diabetes. Cookies, crackers, breads, pastries, cakes and cereals all have high amounts of sugar and refined starch and if you have ever tried to stop eating these things you know they are quite addictive. By eliminating just these two substances (sugar and refined starches) from your diet you can improve your mood considerably. All of the items I mentioned before also have unhealthy fats in them and that contributes even more to a bad-mood food. Vegetable oils, rancid nut oils, margarine, and trans-fats are all used as a healthy alternative and this could not be farther from the truth. Oxidation makes them carcinogenic and the processing that they go through to make them last longer has dangerous side effects. These unhealthy fats affect our moods because we are eating them instead of healthy fats that our brains thrive on. These oils also contain a lot of omega-6 and that is not good. It is important to keep a balance of the omega fatty acids and more omega-3 and less omega-6 is preferable. When we eat fish and nuts and seeds and receive healthy essential fatty acids as opposed to these denatured, rancid fats our mood will be much improved because we will have the right nutrients for our brain to function properly. Wheat can also be a bad-mood food due to its gluten content. Many foods contain gluten and some people do not tolerate it well. Gluten can irritate, inflame and rupture the lining of the digestive tract. This in turn makes it nearly impossible for nutrients to be properly absorbed, and malnutrition can take hold. When this happens many diseases begin, and depression can be a big factor for people who are gluten intolerant. This depression usually goes away when the gluten containing foods are withheld. The last food I want to mention is soy. Soy has also been proclaimed a healthy food to eat. Soy is not only one of the most heavily sprayed crops (pesticides), it is also one of the most genetically modified products along with corn. Genetically modified products have been banned in Europe and the big political lobbies are not informing the American public of the detriments of these products as it increases their profits to keep us in the dark. Soy adversely affects mood-regulating sex and thyroid hormones. When your hormone levels are out of whack your mood can be affected. So I have talked a lot about the bad affects of food, so let’s explore the good-mood foods.
A healthy diet of plenty of protein, fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and fruit is not only beautiful and tasty it will improve your mood. All of the brightly colored fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients that will make you feel great, plenty of protein and healthy fats will keep your brain nourished and happy. Protein helps you to feel optimistic, enthusiastic, calm, and comforted. I know some of you are saying, no I am comforted by my donuts, but once you get past your addiction to these foods (and you will), you will see how comforting a meal of protein and vegetables can be. I feel more satisfied, lighter and energized when I eat protein and vegetables for dinner as opposed to a starchy, fatty meal, which makes me want to sleep. The numerous neurotransmitters in your brain are responsible for these positive feelings and they can only be made by amino acids (protein). Organic meat and eggs, wild game, nuts and grains all contain protein. Healthy fats are another sure way to enjoy a good mood. Your brain is comprised of 60% of specialized fatty substances that need to be replaced constantly and have very complex mood related duties. To feel your best you need to provide healthy fats for your brain. Omega-3 fats are one of the best good- mood foods you can eat. Omega-3 fats provide your best moods where as omega-6 fats your worst. As I said before a proper balance of these two is crucial. Omega-3 can be found in fish, fish oils and flax seed oil. Avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds all contain healthy fats and some organic butter, yogurt and sour cream can be an extremely satisfying addition to your diet, in moderation. I believe butter is a much better choice than the unhealthy fats we discussed earlier. Carbohydrates fuel our brains and good carbohydrate such as vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains provide our brain with the nutrients it needs to be energized and ready to work. The bad carbohydrates we discussed earlier give us too much energy too fast, contain no nutrients, and are detrimental as the good carbohydrates release the energy our brains need more slowly and consistently to keep a good balance for our brain.
Eat three meals a day, eat organic foods as close to their natural state as possible. Read labels, don’t be fooled by foods that say they are low-fat or low-carb, look at the ingredients (they are usually full of sugar and chemicals). Shop the outside perimeters of the store where the fresh foods are and forget the processed, refined boxed and canned foods in the center of the store. Pick colorful fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, legumes, fresh nuts and seeds, healthy fats, quality proteins, and some dairy if you choose. Go to the farmer’s market or health food store for more healthy options. Exercise, sleep enough, keep your stress levels down and you will find yourself in a positive state of mind and in a good mood all the time!
Submitted by Tricia @ Nutrition by Tricia