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Mental Mondays: 10 Yummy Foods That Help Fight Depression

Mental Mondays: 10 Yummy Foods That Help Fight Depression



hen you’re dealing with depression, your brain’s chemistry can get a bit out of place. But certain foods can help restore that balance and give you a mood boost. By nourishing your body with some or all these depression-fighting foods, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to feel better, both physically and mentally. Although it doesn’t promise a quick fix, over time you’ll notice the difference.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just about what you eat, but also how you eat. Enjoying meals with loved ones, savoring every bite, and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues can all contribute to a healthier relationship with food and mood. But even if you wish to enjoy your meal in solitude, these foods that fight depression can help your system respond better.

Check out 10 delicious foods that might help fight depression…

Photo: Adonyi Gábor/Pexels
  • Milk: Starting your day with a glass of milk can provide a boost of nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, which are linked to mood regulation. Vitamin D, in particular, is often called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies produce it when exposed to sunlight, and it’s been shown to have a positive impact on mood.
  • Turkey: This food is not only delicious but also a great source of tryptophan — an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin. Serotonin is sometimes called the “feel-good” neurotransmitter because it contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. Enjoying some roasted turkey breast can be a comforting way to support your mood.
  • Carrots: These vibrant veggies are packed with beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for brain function and has been linked to a lower risk of depression. Plus, munching on crunchy carrots can be a satisfying and mindful snack, which can help lift your spirits.
  • Leafy greens: Think spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. These leafy greens are loaded with folate — a B vitamin that plays a key role in neurotransmitter synthesis. Research suggests that folate deficiency may be linked to depression, so incorporating plenty of leafy greens into your diet can help ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient. These foods can help keep depression at bay, or at least improve your mood. Food is indeed medicine.
  • Beans: Whether it’s black beans, chickpeas, or lentils, beans are a fantastic source of protein and fiber, which can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels steady throughout the day. Plus, they’re rich in magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to have mood-boosting properties.
  • Other poultry: Similar to turkey, other types of poultry like chicken and duck are also rich in tryptophan. Whether you’re enjoying a grilled chicken breast or a comforting bowl of chicken soup, you’re giving your body a dose of this mood-boosting amino acid.
  • Probiotics: Foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi contain beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. Emerging research suggests that there’s a strong connection between gut health and mental health, and consuming probiotic-rich foods may help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Vegetables: It’s no secret that vegetables are good for you, but their impact on mental health is often overlooked. Eating a variety of colorful vegetables provides a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall brain health and may help reduce inflammation, which is thought to play a role in depression.
  • Mushrooms: Not only are mushrooms delicious, but they’re also a good source of vitamin D, which, as mentioned earlier, is important for mood regulation. Plus, mushrooms contain compounds like polysaccharides and antioxidants that have been studied for their potential antidepressant effects.
  • Coffee: For many people, a morning cup of coffee is a non-negotiable part of their routine. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Coffee contains caffeine, which can temporarily boost alertness and improve mood. Just be mindful of your caffeine intake and try not to overdo it, as too much caffeine can interfere with sleep and exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

See 8 foods to avoid…

Photo: Chicken Mackay/Pexels

When you’re fighting depression, it’s not just about what you should eat but also what you should avoid. You might be into leafy vegetables and many healthy foods but still binge-eat over-processed foods. This eating lifestyle might not get you the best result. Therefore, stay away from the following foods if you’re avoiding a date with depression:

  • Processed foods: These are often high in refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients, which can lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels and may contribute to mood swings and fatigue.
  • Sugary snacks and sweets: While they may provide a temporary mood boost, sugary snacks like candy, pastries, and soda can ultimately leave you feeling even more sluggish and irritable once the initial sugar rush wears off.
  • Fried and fast foods: Foods that are deep-fried or heavily processed tend to be high in unhealthy fats and low in nutrients. Consuming too much of these types of foods can harm both your physical and mental health.
  • Alcohol: While a glass of wine or a beer may help you relax in the short term, excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt your sleep patterns, worsen feelings of anxiety and depression, and interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications used to treat depression.
  • Caffeine: While moderate consumption of caffeine can have some benefits, too much caffeine can interfere with sleep and exacerbate feelings of jitteriness and anxiety. If you find that caffeine makes you feel more on edge or worsens your depression symptoms, consider cutting back or avoiding it altogether.
  • High-sodium foods: Foods that are high in sodium, such as processed meats, canned soups, and salty snacks, can contribute to bloating and water retention, which may leave you feeling physically uncomfortable and emotionally drained.
  • Artificial sweeteners: While they may seem like a healthier alternative to sugar, artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have been linked to negative effects on mood and may exacerbate symptoms of depression in some individuals.
  • Trigger foods: Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel emotionally and physically. If you notice that certain foods tend to worsen your mood or energy levels, it may be best to limit or avoid them, at least temporarily.

Featured image: @djamishere/Instagram 

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