Depression is a chronic illness. If you’ve had one episode you are much more likely to have another episode. With each additional episode it becomes easier and easier for depression to take hold. In addition, depression can change how you think, feel and behave even after the episode is over and you’re stable. Luckily, you don’t have to sit idly by and wondering when the depression will hit again. There is something you can do. In my series Retrain Your Brain After Depression, I offer several suggestions that can help you start to feel more like yourself and possibly stave off depression in the future.
This week in Retrain Your Brain After Depression, nutrition is the topic. What you put in your body is very important for both physical and psychological health. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Below are several foods that when consumed on a regular basis can improve your mood and help you retrain your brain after depression.
- Salmon: This fish is rich in an omega-3 fatty acid called E-EPA which was shown to effectively reduce symptoms of depression. In addition, a serving of salmon has more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. People deficient in vitamin D were found to suffer from depression more than people with sufficient vitamin D. Take a look at these delicious salmon recipes.
- Turkey: This star of the Thanksgiving table produces tryptophan, an amino acid necessary in the production of serotonin, the brain chemical essential to keep depression at bay. Tryptophan is also found other protein sources including chicken, eggs, fish, beans and cheese.
- Avocado: This luscious fruit has many properties that help in the fight against depression. It’s a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Studies show that low levels of omega 3s can worsen depression. In addition, avocados are packed with anti-oxidants that protect against oxidative damage to the brain. Add avocado to sandwiches or salads or whip up a yummy guacamole to reap the benefits of this super food.
- Yogurt: A great deal of new research is showing a connection between gut health and mental health. Eating yogurt and other fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles and kimchee can increase the good bacteria in your gut and possibly decrease the incidence of depression. In addition, yogurt contains proteins that can reduce stress and promote relaxation.
- Turmeric: This spice common in Indian cooking is an amazing when it comes to brain health. According to a 2012 study at Howard University, turmeric increases Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Depression and other brain maladies have been connected to low levels of this growth hormone. Turmeric can also fight inflammation in the system. Many health problems, including depression, have been linked to chronic low-level inflammation. Make it curry for dinner tonight!
- Dark-Chocolate: When you eat this delicious treat the feel good chemical serotonin is released. In addition, dark-chocolate is packed with anti-oxidants to help protect the brain from free radicals. The higher the percentage of coco the more free radical fighting power is present. Enjoy!
One final note, please be aware that these suggestions are not intended to replace psychiatric treatment.