There’s been welcome coverage in the media of late about the issues of mental health, depression and suicide. It is time to talk about these things in public and to break down barriers and remove any stigma. That way sufferers can feel more comfortable and confident in seeking help and family and loved ones can find the resources to support tackling these issues.
Depression has affected various members of my family at one point or another and I dedicate this blog to my late uncle Joseph who took his own life when I was just 5 years old. RIP.
Dealing with depression
Mental illness and depression can be treated by a variety of interventions and certainly pharmaceuticals have their place in many situations. But, there are also a great number of effective non-drug interventions that can have significant success such as; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), talk therapies, hypnosis, exercise, mindfulness, meditation and yoga to name a few.
Foods to avoid
However, since this is primarily a food blog I thought I’d talk about mood foods. The foodstuffs to avoid or limit when considering mental health are in general processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners and particularly alcohol.
Mood enhancing foods
An interesting Harvard Study found coffee to be protective for mental health, but only up to 6 cups per day and not if it interfered with sleep. Also, the benefits were wiped out if coffee drinkers added sugar or sweeteners to their beverage.
But here I want to focus more of what we can consume that will positively affect mental health outcomes. Here’s a short list:
- High tryptophan foods – High tryptophan levels in the blood ensure that your brain can manufacture serotonin, your happiness hormone! Tryptophan is found in particular in seeds (such as sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds), but also bananas, oats, beans and lentils
- High anti-oxidant foods – foods (not supplements) high in anti-oxidant levels have been found to lower depression risk. In particular carotenoids, a group of anti-oxidants that produce red and orange colours in fruits and vegetables. One carotenoid in particular – lycopene – was found to be particularly protective. Where do you find lycopene? It’s most abundant in tomatoes.
- High folate foods – again foods and not supplements high in folate, for folate think foliage……. leaves basically! So, all of your dark leafy greens have been found protective against depression risk.
- High vitamin C foods – again its best to get your vitamin C from foods, but one study showed that even Vit C supplements can have a positive effect on mood scores and can help improve frequency of, ahem, intercourse between non-cohabiting couples! BOW CHICKA WOW WOW!
The best foods for Vit C are:
Dark green leafy veg
So the tweak for this week……. Get some good mood food onto your plate everyday, for each meal!
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