Everyone feels down now and then, but depression is a debilitating disorder that is ongoing and that interferes with a person’s daily life. It should be noted that not all experts agree on what is “normal” sadness and what constitutes a “disorder.” However, it is safe to say that some people experience profoundly negative emotions, at times accompanied by feelings of worthlessness and inordinate guilt. Here is a list of 10 foods you should it every day in order to feel good:
1. Dark Leafy Greens
If you were to choose the healthiest food of all, the most nutrient-dense item available to us to eat, it would be dark, leafy greens, no contest. Spinach. Kale. Swiss chard. Greens are the first of the G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds) that Dr. Fuhrman describes in his book, The End of Dieting, the foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anticancer effect.
Walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce depression symptoms. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry is especially interesting. The lead authors ask the question, Why is the vast biological research — from genetics to psychopharmacology — concentrated on neurotransmitters, when the mammalian brain is approximately 80 percent fat (lipids), and there is a growing body of research demonstrating the critical role of lipids to help brain functioning? What’s more, the shift in the Western diet away from these necessary omega-3 fatty acids over the last century parallels the large rise in psychiatric disorders in that time.
Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are especially good for your mood because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fuhrman writes, “Not only do seeds add their own spectrum of unique disease-fighting substances to the dietary landscape, but the fat in seeds increases the absorption of protective nutrients in vegetables eaten at the same meal.”
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods available to us. I try to have a variety for breakfast in the morning. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, patients were treated for two years with antioxidants or placebos. After two years those who were treated with antioxidants had a significantly lower depression score. They are like DNA repairmen. They go around fixing your cells and preventing them from getting cancer and other illnesses.
I eat a whole one every day in my salad for lunch. Avocados are power foods because, again, they contain healthy fat that your brain needs in order to run smoothly. Three-fourths of the calories of an avocado are from fat, mostly monosaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid. An average avocado also contains 4 grams of protein, higher than other fruits, and is filled with vitamin K, different kinds of vitamin B (B-9, B-6, and B-5), vitamin C, and vitamin E-12. Finally, they are low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, containing about 11 grams each.
Here are two good reasons mushrooms are good for your mental health. First, their chemical properties oppose insulin, which helps lower blood sugar levels, evening out your mood. They also are like a probiotic in that they promote healthy gut bacteria. And since the nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80 percent to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin — the critical neurotransmitter that keeps us sane — we can’t afford to not pay attention to our intestinal health.
“Beans, beans, good for the heart. The more you eat, the more you … smile.” They make the G-BOMB list because they can act as anti-diabetes and weight-loss foods. They are good for my mood because my body (and every body) digests them slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar levels. Any food that assists me in evening out my blood sugar levels is my friend. They are the one starch that I allow myself, so on top of a salad, they help mitigate my craving for bread and other processed grains.