Monday, February 20, 2012

Manic Monday: Fighting Depression with Food

Estimations suggest that nearly 10% of Americans suffer from some sort of depression.  That number continues to rise, even as the amount of people taking anti-depression medications rise.  Obviously, the medication is not working.  One cause of depression that is rarely discussed by mainstream media is diet.  However, even the Mayo Clinic and admit that eating a lot of junk food can contribute to depression.  Many even agree that inflammation caused by certain foods could be a leading cause of depression.

While there are certainly several factors that contribute to depression, nutrition is one of the keys.  Like every organ in the body, proper nutrition feeds the brain and helps the neurotransmitters function at a normal level.  These chemical messengers play a key role in mood and mental health.  Insulin resistance is another factor affected by diet that can have a huge impact on our mental health.

So, what foods are best to eat and not to eat for fighting depression?  First, cutting out grains has been shown to reduce inflammation and increase mood.  Our carbohydrates should come from organic, raw fruits and vegetables, with limited or no grains and starchy vegetables.  Amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters, so make sure you eat a well-balanced meal with protein from a variety of sources (nuts, seeds, greens, superfoods, etc.).  Foods rich in Vitamins A, B, C and D are also important.  Supplementation may be necessary for some, but you're better off getting most of these nutrients from an array of fruits and vegetables, as well as algae, sea vegetables and sprouts.

Of course, avoiding processed foods like sugar, flour, denatured fats, soda, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners makes a huge difference in how you feel and how your brain functions.  Instead, include natural sweeteners, good fats (flax oil, coconut oil, olive oil), and possibly some ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth.  For most people, switching to a diet of 80% or more raw, organic, plant-based foods creates a better state of being and elevated moods.

Our mental health is one of the best treasures we have.  Protecting it means a happier and more fulfilling life.  Your diet is your best tool to change the chemistry of your brain and nervous system.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

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