According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are at least 300 million people of all ages who suffer from depression worldwide. It is the leading cause of disability globally, and primarily contributes to the overall global burden of disease.
Traditional medications are prescribed to improve symptoms of depression, but they also have side effects. Antidepressants take a while, about two to four weeks, before showing effects. Moreover, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Instead of spending money and risking your life on these prescription drugs, a variety of foods can help lift up your mood and treat depression.
“Fixing your brain starts with fixing your body. Optimizing what you put in and taking out the negative influences is the first start,” Bailey said.
Bailey based her recommendations on research on brain health and proactive lifestyle and dietary changes. She wrote in her new book, entitled The Brain Boost Diet, a diet that will boost your mood in three days. These foods contain nutrients that the body needs to produce chemical messengers that will naturally lift up your mood. (Related: Be aware of the link between food and depression.)
Eat your way to happiness
- Do not eat processed foods – Imbalances in blood sugar can easily deplete your mood, so foods that contain refined sugary carbohydrates, white starch, fruit juices, and sugary smoothies must be avoided. On the other hand, your meals should be based on lean proteins, antioxidant-rich vegetables, and healthy fats such as oily fish, avocado, olives, nuts, and seeds.
- Consume healthy fats – The brain is mostly composed of fat, most of which are healthy fats phospholipids and omega-3 fats. Healthy fats are important because they help in improving your focus, concentration, and mood. Olive oil, coconut oil, and omega-3-rich oils are some of the most common sources of healthy fats. Extra-virgin olive oil helps prevent brain cell damage and reduce inflammation as it is a good source of polyphenols and monounsaturated fats. To improve brain function, coconut oil is an option because it is rich in special fats called medium-chain triglycerides or MCT. Lastly, studies show that omega-3 fats found in oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds can boost mood and relieve depression.
- Have a cup of green tea – Green tea not only protects the brain because of the antioxidants it has, but also enhances focus and concentration and reduces stress due to the L- theanine it contains.
- Consume vitamin D-rich foods – Vitamin D in the body improves mood and depression. You may have felt being low on energy or your mood levels decreasing during winter. This may be because vitamin D is mainly obtained from sunlight, which makes it difficult to get during this time. Correspondingly, it can be found in some foods in minimal amounts such as mushrooms, liver, egg yolks, full fat dairy, and oily fish, or in vitamin D supplements.
- Eat fermented foods everyday – More studies have found an association between beneficial gut microbiota and mood. Eating more fermented foods that contain healthy gut bacteria helps the body manage stress, lessen anxiety, and enhance mood. Beneficial gut bacteria can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso.
- Consume magnesium-rich foods – Magnesium is an important mineral that has a powerful relaxation effect and is also required for energy production. Getting enough mineral in the body is helpful for people with stress, anxiety, or poor sleep.
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Read more ways to naturally improve your mental health at Psychiatry.news.