Depression and mental health seem to be a topic on the top of conversation right now. It can seem like a complicated and shameful condition.
Along with proper medical care and therapy, diet has a real impact on depression and anxiety.
I have put together some information about how what you eat affects your brain chemistry and what you can do to improve it.
Please remember that depression and anxiety is something to be taken seriously and if you know someone suffering please reach out, they need your support.
Nutrition and Supplementation are important for the brain to function properly and keep a stable mood.
It will help to keep you happier and in a better mood and also help with depression and
The brain is comprised of major neurotransmitters that are responsible for a variety of brain signals including mood and appetite. When neurotransmitters levels become very low and out of balance they can impair mood.
Serotonin one of the main neurotransmitters, allows us to perceive joy and pleasure. When are deficient in serotonin we tend to have depression, sadness for no reason.
A serotonin deficiency can manifest as cravings for starches and salts like pasta and bread.
Regulates sleep, pain sensitivity, and the processing of sensory information such as sight, sound, and feeling. A lack of serration in the brain may interfere with moods by causing chronic insomnia, eating disorders, low sensitivity to pain, and problems in processing sensory information.
If you believe you have low Serotonin levels try eating more foods rich in Tryptophan like turkey, cocoa, pork, duck, and chicken. Supplements like St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP, Yohimbe, and Boswellia may also help.
Dopamine helps to keep us energized and motivated. When you have low dopamine levels one tends to have low energy levels, poor focus and may find it hard to stick to a schedule like a meal plan or exercise routine.
When it is depleted it can cause tremors, reduced attention span and poor motivation.
When you are low in Dopamine try eating foods like beef, cheese, chocolate, eggs, fish, oats, pork, and turkey. Supplementation with Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, B6, and Glutathione.
Acetylcholine involved in the processing speed of the brain. People who are low in this neurotransmitter tend to have memory lapses, decrease in creativity. They also crave foods high in fat since they need the choline that they are deficient.
When low in Acetylcholine you want to eat more healthy fats like fish oil, olives, egg yolks, nuts, and avocados.
GABA helps us to relax and shut down. People that are deficient in GABA tend to feel anxiety and a restless mind. Emotional eaters tend to have low levels of GABA.
GABA deficiency you want to supplements with Valerian Root Extract, Passion Flowers, Manganese, Zinc, and Taurine.
Brain chemistry can affect depression. Did you know that your gut makes about 90% of the serotonin in your body?
Fact: your digestive system makes more neurotransmitters (NT) and has greater NT receptor density than the brain. Brain health, as well as gut health, is important.
When focusing on nutritional therapies you want to consume less of some foods and more of others.
It is important to eat less sugar and processed foods because eating too much sugar and fast foods can cause moods swings and sugar highs and lows. When these blood sugar imbalances happen it throws off the chemical in the brain and can result in depression and anxiety. Blood sugar imbalances are one of the biggest factors in mood disorders.
Eating sugar and processed foods can cause inflammation which can cause more stress on the body. Excess consumption of weight gain which can affect your self-esteem and lead to more depression.
Caffeine can raise stress hormones and interrupt sleep, which can lead to fatigue and feeling overwhelmed which can worsen the symptoms of depression. Caffeine can also cause highs and lows of energy levels.
Drink moderate amounts of caffeine and don’t rely on it as a source of energy.
Gluten (found in bread, pasta, grains, wheat) can cause causes digestive issues, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and mood fluctuations.
People with Celiac disease have been associated with an 80% increase in depression.
Gluten also causes inflammation and affects the brain and gut and can cause many systems of depression and anxiety. Removing gluten from your diet and then repairing your gut will help to increase mood and reduce inflammation.
Increasing fresh fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants will keep you overall healthier and happier. Fruits and vegetables also have high levels of fiber that are the building blocks of a balanced diet will help to keep blood sugar stabilized and avoid mood swings.
Foods high in Omega 3s- sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, and walnuts can increase the production of serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones and can keep your brain healthy.
Eating healthy fats like coconut oils and avocado help to support hormones like Serotonin and GABA (used to help keep brain healthy and working properly) require essential fatty acids to be produced.
According to studies people with lower levels of folate are more likely to suffer from depression. Therefore it is important to eat a diet rich in folate foods like broccoli, spinach, chickpeas, cabbage, and wheat germ.
Poor levels of selenium have also been linked to poor mood and depression. Foods Rich in Selenium, such as Beans and legumes, Lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey), low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds (particularly brazil nuts), and seafood (oysters, clams, sardines, crab, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish) are important to add to your diet.
Foods high in Tryptophan, protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, beans, and eggs are needed to make serotonin in the body.
Cocoa and chocolate have the reputation of making people euphoric and happy. There is a wide array of chemicals in cocoa that cause euphoria, including phenylethylamine (PEA), serotonin, tyramine, and anandamide.
One of the most well-known is phenylethylamine (PEA) which helps the body release its own opium-like compounds, called the endorphins, and also boosts levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Endorphins and dopamine gives one a sense of well-being and can act as an anti-depressant. PEA and dopamine flood the brain when we fall in love or have an orgasm.
The other “feel-good” chemicals in cocoa are serotonin and tyramine. Most people are deficient in the neurotransmitter serotonin and this is why many Americans are prescribed anti-depressants which boost serotonin levels.
Tyramine helps reduce anxiety and balance mood, but can also trigger migraines in sensitive people.
Looking for a specific plan to help your increase your mood with nutrition, then schedule and appointment with me!
Click HERE to book your session!