Recent research in neuropsychiatry suggests that there is a link between depression and the standard american diet, that consists in high fat, high sugar foods. The brain responds to the food that is ingested, and it needs essential fatty acids, amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water to function properly. If the brain is deprived of these nutrients, it can’t work like it is supposed to, and it could lead to depression.
Here are a few tips of foods that could help your brain to stay healthy:
1) Increase intake of omega 3 fatty acids: an increased intake of these essential fatty acids (they can not be manufactured within the human body) have been associated with a decrease in depression rate. Omega 3 fatty acids originate from plants and fish. Vegetable sources of omega 3’s include chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp, walnuts, and canola oil. Goods sources of marine omega 3 fatty acids are mackerel, salmon, anchovies, herrings, and sardines.
2) Increase intake of B vitamins: a low level of B vitamins in the blood may be linked with depression. There are a few of the B vitamins that stand out in regards to brain health. These are folic acid (B 9), pyridoxine (B 6), and cobalamin (B 12). Food sources of folate are lentils, dried beans and peas, broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra, asparagus, and citrus fruit and juice. Good sources of vitamin B6 are beans, poultry, fish, and some vegetables and fruits, especially dark leafy greens, papayas, oranges, and cantaloupe. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy.
3) Boost serotonin: the body needs the amino acid tryptophan to build serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite and sleep. Tryptophan can be found in vegetable protein such as soybeans, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and oats; and also in animal protein such as eggs, fish, cheese, pork, poultry and beef.
4) Balance blood sugar: There is a direct link between mood and blood sugar balance. The more uneven your blood sugar supply the more uneven your mood. Lots of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods,) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins. It is better to eat whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and regular meals; and stay away from refined carbohydrates, processed foods, caffeine and alcohol that don’t help regulate blood sugar levels.
At Prevention Foods we hope that this information motivates you to incorporate healthy brain foods to your diet! We offer chia seeds, a plant based source of omega 3 fatty acids, that have a delicious nutty flavor and that can be added to many foods. Enjoy!