If you didn’t see my last post, click HERE for a refresher. I discussed that a deficiency in ANY NUTRIENT can lead to depression or symptoms associated with depression. You could see from the fancy chart I included, that the source of these nutrients came from real food – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds to name a few. So real food in the sense that these foods aren’t typically found in a box or grown/created in a laboratory, so they are jam packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and healthy fats.
Think about this – our body and brain are made up entirely of molecules of our food, air and water. So if you had a choice, would you choose to consume fresh local produce or a big Mac and coke? I’ll leave you to ponder that one for a bit.
I make the choice to eat a certain way because I know how I feel when I haven’t made the best food choices because I’ve been on the run or have been eating out. It happens to the best of us, but it still comes down to choice and choosing what is best for us rather than what we are craving. Cravings are a big subject so I will share more information on that another day.
Here is one of my food choices from a few days ago - a quick and easy salad before running out for the afternoon. Here’s why I choose some of these foods when it comes to my mental health.
Walnuts: Not only do they add a spectacular crunch to the salad, they also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory, and brain/mood boosting properties. They are one of nature’s best sources of omega-3 short of flaxseeds and chia. As an aside, another important omega-3 fatty acid is found in oily fish, like salmon. Fish contains EPA and DHA and often people who are depressed lack EPA. It is known to reduce anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts, and decreased sex drive.
Quinoa: Although not pictured in the salad, the fresh greens are sitting atop a bed of quinoa. This grain-like seed contains magnesium, folic acid and adequate fiber to aid in optimal digestion, preventing low blood-sugar induced mood swings. Another great benefit is that it offers a complete protein – therefore a full spectrum of essential amino acids. Remember, tryptophan, one of the essentials is the precursor to serotonin, the happy hormone.
Kale: There is a lot of talk about this superfood these days. Kale is nutrient dense, and especially when eaten raw. A cup contains a huge boost of vitamin C to boost your mood and support your adrenals, as well as lending its anti-inflammatory properties. As mentioned in the previous post, leafy green vegetables contain folic acid, which helps ward of anxiety and depression. It even contains a small amount of omega-3s.
Sunflower Sprouts: Raw sunflower seeds in general contain a lot of condensed nutrients into one compact little package. When the seed is sprouted, the nutrients are multiplied 300+%, so just a handful can contain vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids as well as detoxifying chlorophyll. These little babies have all the nutrients needed to boost your mood.
Red Pepper: Tons of vitamin C, B vitamins and folate, these red gems are warding of depression too. When I mention vitamin C here, red pepper actually contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange and even contains a small amount of tryptophan.
So you can see this simple looking salad is packed full of amazing nutrients to keep depression and foul moods at bay, AND it doesn’t have to be complicated. I threw leftover quinoa into a bowl, tossed in some greens, sprouts, a little red pepper and topped with lemon, olive oil and sea salt. No fake food here!
Do you have a favourite mood-boosting food? Is it truly mood enhancing or just filling the emotional void for the time being?