Friday, September 14, 2018

Foodie Friday ~ Top Foods For Reducing Mood Disorders

Usually, I share a recipe or two for this segment. Today, however, we're going to use our last day of raising awareness during Suicide Prevention Week focusing on the best brain foods to eat to ease some symptoms of depression and anxiety.

I call them 'brain foods' because it's very important to feed a hungry brain that is already enduring enough strain. Oftentimes, a person living with a Mood Disorder may experience an increase in their symptoms because their bodies aren't getting the right variety of nourishment.

There is a reason they came up with the expression, 'You are what you eat', because it's very true. The brain is like the hard drive of your body and it greatly depends on what goes in, and is going on around, your body in order to do its job most effectively. Think of how you feel when you eat too much junk food over a period of time or if you skipped a meal or you aren't drinking enough water. We can get cranky, irritable, lethargic, unable to concentrate, defensive, tired and, even, emotional. This is how it is for those living with mood disorders, but tenfold.

So, keep connecting with those who can help, take your medication if you need to be on it, get out and move that body a few times a day and, most importantly, take the time to feed your brain!

Here are a few tasty options you can eat on their own, or mix into your favorite recipes.

Happy Eating!

Nuts. Not only do nuts have protein and the good fats the brain craves, they also contain antioxidants, like selenium, that help to 'clean out' the toxins in the body.

Lean meat and fatty fish.  These are very high in protein and fish (like salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.), also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for those living with mood disorders. Another component I didn't know before was that salmon and sardines are one of the only foods that contain Vitamin D, which can be very effective in regulating moods (think of what some of us are like in winter with a lack of vitamin D).

Important vitamins and minerals: I discovered recently that those with deficiency in vitamins such as A (helps maintain muscle mass, regulates hormones/enzymes, heals wounds and maintains a healthy immune system), C (which helps boost the immune system), all the B's (which also boost immune system but also assist with red blood formation. See this link for a breakdown of the various B vitamins), E (antioxidant), D (regulates mood but is only naturally in certain foods), iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and folate. On a personal note, I understand the tremendous importance of not becoming deficient in any of these. A lack of these can not only affect mood, it can also cause a crash of the immune system, a low red blood cell count and the inability for the organs in the body to do their job.

Dairy products: It's well-known that not only does dairy help add some protein in the diet, it also contains healthy bacteria (especially yogurt) that help with mood disorders and a healthy gut. Things like milk, yogurt (apparently Greek yogurt is one of the best to choose), cheese, eggs, cottage cheese or even ice cream (eaten sparingly, of course) are excellent sources. Plus some brands often add vitamin D to their milk products and you can choose lactose free. Dairy (and meat) also contains amino acids that the body converts to 'happy mood' neurotransmitters (eg: serotonin).

Herbs and spices. There are a wide variety of herbs to try out that not only help to reduce anxiety and enhance healthier moods, they also make food taste great. I've been told chamomile, cinnamon and turmeric are some top choices (eat that Asian food!).

Deep green leafy vegetables. Not only are these high in iron, minerals and antioxidants, they are also high in magnesium and kale even has protein. Go for greens like kale (as mentioned), Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, watercress, collard greens and the greenest part of Romaine. Green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus and brussell sprouts are also great veggies to mix in.

Beans, legumes and seeds.  These are also very high in protein, the B vitamins and fiber. Seeds (like pumpkin and chai) are a great source of omega-3. These are so versatile they can be added to many different dishes.

Tofu, soy and tempeh: All excellent meat alternatives that contain high protein, among other essential nutrients. They don't really have much flavor on their own, but they take on the flavor of whatever you cook them with. Plus, with the huge variety of products made with these foods nowadays (eg: ground, sandwich meat, meatballs, sausages, 'chicken fingers', etc.) offer a wonderful switch from the norm.

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