This piece was republished from Oxygen.
Many of us use food as a means of soothing ourselves when we’re feeling down, however this strategy might have unintended consequences: Poor eaters are 40% more likely to experience major depressive episodes than healthy eaters, citing a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. And vice versa, a negative outlook has been shown to enhance your inclination for snacking on unhealthy foods, according to research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. As a result, there is a growing body of research into the link between diet and mental health, with a particular focus on mood-enhancing nutrients.
According to Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of Food & Mood (Holt Paperbacks, 1999) and Eat Your Way to Happiness, “how you feel has a lot to do with what you eat — or don’t eat” (Harlequin, 2009). Those with depression may find relief by switching to a healthier diet, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One. Somer claims that eating certain meals can alter one’s mood, energy level, and stress levels.
Mood-lifting, stress-busting, and outlook-energizing minerals and chemicals are found in these uplifting foods. Include at least one of these dishes in your weekly menu and your scowl will quickly go.
1. Fruits and Veggies
Eating a lot of fresh food may improve mental health, whether your favourite berries are blueberries or cabbage. Clinical Nutrition released a research of almost 9,000 adults showing that a daily intake of 470 grammes of fruit and vegetable resulted in a 10% reduction in stress. Similarly, studies conducted at England’s University of Leeds indicated that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with improved psychological health and overall happiness.
Somer notes that, “since it uses more oxygen than any other tissue in the body, the brain is subjected to a very high daily dose of free radicals,” which can cause harm to brain cells. Specifically, “antioxidants neutralise these toxic chemicals, which in turn improves brain function.”
Rx: Eat at least three cups of veggies and two cups of fruit every day to brighten your smile.
This article originally appeared on Oxygen
A lot of us turn to food as a way to fill an emotional void, but in an inverse reaction, the very food you’re hoping will give you comfort could actually be making things worse: According to the Journal of Affective Disorders, those who eat a poor diet are 40 percent more likely to have major depressive episodes as compared to those who eat healthier. And, vice versa, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that being in a negative frame of mind increases your propensity for eating unhealthy foods. The burgeoning field of nutritional psychiatry (yes, it’s a thing) is dedicated to investigating this relationship, including foods with mood boosting potential.
“How you feel has a lot to do with what you eat — or don’t eat,” says Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of Food & Mood (Holt Paperbacks, 1999) and Eat Your Way to Happiness (Harlequin, 2009). In a recent study published in the journal PLOS One, subjects suffering from depression found that eating healthier foods led to a reduction in or elimination of their symptoms. “Certain foods can tweak brain chemistry and help you stay happy, energized and calm,” Somer says.
These feel-good foods contain nutrients and compounds that naturally boost your sagging mood, zap stress and energize your outlook. Add one or more of them to your weekly meal plan and turn that frown upside down.
1. Fruits and Veggies
No matter whether you prefer blueberries to blackberries or kale to cauliflower, eating lots of fresh produce may boost your mental health: A study of nearly 9,000 adults published in Clinical Nutrition revealed that eating 470 grams of fruits and vegetables daily meant a 10 percent reduction in stress. Similarly, research done at the University of Leeds in England found that those who eat more produce reported a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction, likely because of the higher intake of antioxidants.
“The brain consumes more oxygen than any other body tissue, which exposes it to a huge daily dose of free radicals that can attack and damage cells,” Somer says. “Antioxidants deactivate these harmful compounds and in turn improve brain function.”
Rx: Green up your grin by eating 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily.
Get your fix
- Smoothies made with blended spinach.
- Pears, sliced, make a lovely addition to salads.
- Grate carrots and add them to your cereal.
Reach for the bad stuff if you want to feel good about yourself. Nutritional Neuroscience released research showing that people who ate more fermented foods (including kefir, miso, and sauerkraut) had lower levels of anxiety and sadness. The bacteria aid in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, a critical hormone in mood regulation, and are thought to work with the brain to induce the release of feel-good neurochemicals.
Rx: Daily use of a cup of kefir (or other fermented food) is proven to be effective in eradicating negative emotions.
Get your fix
- Consume as a smoothie foundation. (Much more liquid than yoghurt.)
- Mix into batter for things like pancakes or muffins.
- Blend into a smooth dressing for a salad.
3. Chia Seeds
Recent research has found that premenopausal women who ingest more fibre are less likely to experience feelings of depression and fatigue.
Fibre’s role in regulating the body’s glucose and insulin levels has been linked to improved mental and physical well-being. Chia seeds are an excellent source of energy because they include 10 grammes of fibre per 2 teaspoons. Somer says that eating foods high in fibre and antioxidants can protect brain tissue from injury.
Rx: A daily serving of 1–2 tablespoons is all it takes to plant the seeds of joy.
Get your fix
- Scatter on top of bowls of cereal and smoothies.
- To make a crispy coating for meat or fish.
- Prepare chia pudding as a sweet ending to the meal.
Those who consume fish on a regular basis (at least twice a week) are less likely to experience depression, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry. The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel help hard-wire our brains for happiness, as the anti-inflammatory effect of omegas helps short-circuit negative thoughts, as reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Somer says that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is a component of brain cell membranes. If you get enough of this fat in your diet, your brain is more likely to function normally.
Rx: Enjoy three 4- to 5-ounce portions of fatty fish once a week.
Get your fix
- Prepare over the grill, then serve over crisp salad.
- Make a big quantity and use it for a week’s worth of tasty sandwiches by blackening it.
- Make a fishy frittata by chopping it into chunks and adding it to the eggs.
Research published in the journal Nutrients found that women who frequently eat nuts, especially walnuts, have less depressive symptoms, less hopelessness, and more energy. Studies have shown that alpha-linolenic acid, which is found in walnuts, can help reduce inflammation, which is a risk factor for developing depression.
Rx: Take one ounce of walnuts every day to ward off anxiety.
Get your fix
- As a sub for pine nuts in pesto.
- Mix and toss with chopped zoodles.
- Shred into tiny pieces and use in homemade power balls or bars.
Magnesium, which is abundant in green soybeans, has been linked in multiple studies to a decreased risk of depression. Magnesium helps the brain produce serotonin, which regulates mood by adjusting chemical levels.
Rx: Two cups each week of this will help keep the blues at bay.
Get your fix
- Prepare a bowl of edamame from frozen by boiling and seasoning it.
- Toss edamame that has been shelled into salads and stir-fries.
- Mix into sauces and spreads.
7. Green Tea
A major meta-analysis indicated that the risk of depression was reduced by 37% for every 3 cups of tea drunk daily, especially the green kind. Additionally, those who consumed 4 or more cups of green tea daily had a 51% lower risk of experiencing depression, according to a study published in Public Health Nutrition. The amino acid L-theanine and the antioxidant catechins found in green tea have been shown to have a positive effect on cognitive performance and stress levels.
Rx: Depressing feelings can be chased away with two to four glasses of green tea everyday.
Get your fix
- Prepare rice in a pot of green tea.
- Green tea, after cooled, makes an excellent liquid base for smoothies.
- Used tea leaves can be recycled by including a small amount in dishes such as stir-fries.
Lentils are high in fibre, which has been shown to improve mood, and they also contain a lot of folate, which the National Institute on Aging suggests can help prevent depression in women. Folate is required for the synthesis of mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Folate is essential for health, but the body can’t store it, therefore it must be consumed regularly.
Rx: Folate levels will remain high if you consume 2 cups (cooked) every week.
Get your fix
Fill tacos with this vegetarian alternative.
Swap your cereal for this in your next superfood bowl.
Mix into a base for vegetable burgers.
9. Cacao Powder
It’s not a dream; eating chocolate can improve your mood. Eating as little as three ounces of dark chocolate each day can help keep your mood up, according to a study published in the journal Depression & Anxiety.
Somer claims that chocolate’s strong antioxidant content is responsible for the food’s transformation from “pure pleasure” to “mind and health guardian.” The phenylethylamine and polyphenols in dark chocolate have been shown to increase emotions of contentment and serenity when consumed on a daily basis, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
If you’re watching your sugar intake, try cacao powder instead of a chocolate bar, and choose for natural rather than Dutch-processed cocoa powder, as the latter’s manufacturing process dilutes the natural antioxidants and, by extension, its mood-boosting potential.
Rx: One tablespoon of chocolate every day can give you a nice little boost.
Get your fix
- Add to bowl of warm cereal.
- Incorporate into baked items for a rich chocolate flavour that won’t raise blood sugar levels.
- Combining this with honey and cinnamon in hot water makes for a really rich hot chocolate.
These are some of the most glum foods available.
A high intake of ultra-processed meals, including those that have been fortified with sugar, preservatives, and harmful fats, has been linked to an increased risk of depression. Inflammation is caused by the oxidation and disruption of the gut flora and the promotion of bad emotions that are all caused by eating processed foods.
According to research published in Medical Hypotheses, consuming a diet high in added sugar may set off the metabolic and neurological processes that are linked to depression. You should be wary of “hidden” additions in foods like salad dressings, pasta sauces, and condiments.
Excessive intake of fast food has been related to an increased risk of developing depression, according to a study published in Public Health Nutrition. Poor emotional state is a direct result of the elevated oxidative stress caused by consuming fatty and salty foods.
White Bread and Pasta
Eating too much white bread, spaghetti, and other high-glycemic meals may increase your risk of depression, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Researchers in Spain discovered that consuming trans fats was associated with feeling down. On the other hand, scientists found that eating more monounsaturated fats, such those found in olive oil, almonds, and avocados, protects against depression.
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