Depression causes us to feel sad and uninterested. It affects the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. About 20 per cent of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime and antidepressant use in Canada is among the highest in the world.
I set out on a mission to find out whether the food we eat impacts our mental health and the answer was clear:
What we eat can either positively or negatively impact our mental health.
Food has the power to worsen our mental health. Things like processed food, refined sugar, alcohol and gluten can create inflammation throughout our bodies, promote chemical imbalances in our brains and even deplete our nutritional stores to worsen symptoms of mental illness.
The good news is, there are foods out there that can help fight symptoms of depression. These foods are reparative, help to maintain chemical balances, promote brain health and fulfill all our weird and wonderful nutritional needs.
Let's talk about five of these healing foods that have the power to fight symptoms of depression and how they work.
Depression-Fighting Food No. 1: Sweet Potato
My beloved sweet potato! It's more than just a delicious treat. It's also super rich in vitamin B6. Low levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with symptoms of depression, so it is essential we get our fix of this nutrient.
Depression-Fighting Food No. 2: Spinach
Spinach is my favourite super food. So much goodness is packed into this leafy green including tryptophan and folate. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that floats around our brain and helps us feel happy. The tryptophan found in spinach helps increase our levels of serotonin. Spinach is also high in folate, another nutrient that helps increase levels of serotonin in the brain.
Depression-Fighting Food No. 3: Cashews
As if you needed another excuse to eat cashews. In the documentary Food Matters, Dr. Andrew Saul explained that eating two handfuls of cashews is equivalent to taking a prescription dose of the popular antidepressant Prozac! Cashews are also super high in tryptophan, which again, helps increase levels of that happiness-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Depression-Fighting Food No. 4: Berries
The "daily grind" often leaves our bodies worn down and inflamed. High levels of inflammation in the body have been linked to symptoms of depression. Berries contain high amounts of polyphenols, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects that help our bodies recover.
Depression-Fighting Food No. 5: Avocados
Last but not least, another favourite -- avocado. Avocado is a serious superfood when it comes to depression as it contains tryptophan, folate and omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps combat inflammation in the brain and also helps regulate our brain's neurotransmitters.
That Clean Life is a meal planning platform that makes eating healthy simple and fun. Sign up today to grab our Eating for Happiness meal plan, which is packed full of these mood-boosting foods!
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